Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come
Young female Christians often have a preoccupation with becoming the proverbs 31 woman. It’s often used as a compliment- to suggest that someone embodies the values and characteristics of the woman who ’can laugh at the days to come’.
We are shown a field-buying, vine-yard-planting, bed-covering-making, purple-clothed, flax-selecting superwoman, a wife and mother who works hard to support her family. This loving, generous and clearly extremely talented figure is the kind of woman who would provoke other women to whisper to one another, ‘how does she do it?’
So how does she?
And how do we?
Is it even possible to adopt all of her character traits, to truly embrace her character as our own?
As young followers of Christ it’s easy to feel inadequate when confronted with Proverbs 31 but we need to remember that the woman the scripture describes is an idealised version of womanhood. She has qualities we should value greatly and pursue for ourselves, those of selflessness, gratitude, diligence and resourcefulness but we don’t need to put pressure on ourselves to be her right now.
We are young followers of Christ and for all the small groups, devotionals, discipleship and growing in faith, we still have flaws, insecurities, struggles.
There are some days when I don’t feel clothed in strength and dignity. There are days when deadlines seem too pressing, that ‘To-Do’ list is growing and things all just feel a bit too much.
I’ve learnt that this is ok.
Unfortunately we can’t do it all. You and I aren’t excessively productive, always happy and active robots sent here to do God’s will. We are human. That comes with baggage. Fears, hopes, dreams, emotions, desires, the lot.
God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
It’s ok to feel like you don’t have it together all the time, that life isn’t running smoothly and that you can’t channel that proverbs 31 spirit and spring out of bed before sunrise every day. God can use you as you are, with all your human-ness.
In an environment such as Uni where you may in your immediate surroundings be in the minority as a Christian this pressure to be a role-model, to have it all together in order to prove that being a Christian is the magic formula to the perfect, stress-free life. I’ve come to realise that being honest about your short comings rather than attempting to hide your imperfections will only show others how much you rely on God, that in a time when stress and anxiety can be high as people attempt to settle into their new environment you can be open about your failings and remain trusting in that struggle.
It’s also important to remember that guys can also feel they are falling short when presented with an identity such as a ‘man of God’. Being a Christian means that you literally have the word ‘Christ’ in your identity. What a terrifying and exciting prospect for both guys and girls, that we live with His love and purpose within us. Of course, we desire to glorify him through our lives but I want to stress that when you surrender your life to God you can be broken and He’ll use those weakness’ as part of His greater plan and ultimately those short-comings will glorify Him as He transforms you, mends you, strengthens you.
It’s ok if you wake up tomorrow and don’t feel clothed in strength and dignity because you don’t need to live in your own strength. You can wake up feeling tired, perhaps a little irritable, maybe pre-occupied or just generally uninspired because when you bring those feelings to God He can use them, He can work in you if you let Him.
So when the storms of life hit and you don’t feel clothed in strength and dignity but weighed down with insecurity or shame know that God can still use you, He’s not done with you yet. So keep trusting, keep casting your insecurities and keep pursuing the characteristics of the proverbs 31 woman but always remember that we don’t have a responsibility to be perfect but to point people to a perfect God.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S Lewis