I was working at my standing-desk. Suddenly, I remembered I was supposed to drop my daughter’s cello at school during my morning walk. Her lesson was 2 hours ago. Once again, I had got wrapped up in work and neglected something my child needed. She was gracious about it, but for me, it was more evidence of my failure to balance home and work.
For as long as I can remember, the Proverbs 31 woman has been a problem for me. This woman juggles more than I do, and she NEVER drops a ball. Like most women, I can’t measure up to her awesomeness and ability to be all, do all, and have it all. I want my children to rise up and call me blessed. I want my husband to be praised because of me. I want to have a great career while being an amazing homemaker. I want to work early in the morning and late at night, and still have a smile on my face.
The reality is that I struggle to manage my home; my career feels like an uphill struggle; and my family barely get their dinner on time. They are not clothed in purple. They just about have enough clean clothes to cover them in all seasons, because the laundry is piling up. Needless to say, the utility room door needs to be kept shut at all times!
Where am I going wrong? I have asked myself this question for over 20 years. I don’t have an answer, but I do have another question: Who says I need to have it all or be it all? What does Proverbs 31 even mean? I suspect Solomon was aiming deeper than what a woman achieves in her home, work or community.
Have we been reading the chapter superficially all this time? External measures are easy. Cooked dinner on time? Tick! Got a promotion at work? Tick! Kids not lost at the shopping centre? Tick! Contributed to school or community activity? Tick! Husband pays you a compliment? Tick! Interest earned on investments? Tick! We can wear ourselves out ticking all the boxes, but I suspect that this is not what Proverbs 31 is pointing to. The heroine in Solomon’s poem is deeper than her actions. He calls the woman ‘Khayil’ which cannot be translated in a single English word. It means that she is mighty (like a warrior), fearless, wealthy, excellent, morally righteous, has substance and integrity. She possesses the wisdom that Solomon talks about in his opening chapter of Proverbs (see Proverbs 1:2-7).
Married or not, with children or without, employed or unemployed, this kind of woman has a superior mindset. She knows God personally. He directs every aspect of her life. She honours God anywhere she has influence. She trusts Jehovah Jireh to provide in all seasons. She gives generously. She does not fear. She smiles genuinely. She uplifts others. She gives and accepts help. She avoids complaining. She speaks with love and wisdom regardless of what life throws at her.
I challenge us to respond differently to our mistakes today. Instead of beating ourselves up, let us lean in, to hear what God says about us. Our achievements do not determine our value. Jesus proved at the cross that you and I are worth far more than rubies.
Practically speaking, this lady demonstrates that it is okay to accept help from others (verse 15). Community is a God-given gift as we try to balance the roles we are called to. This same gift-giving God wants to lead and love us personally. Step away regularly to hear from God. He will show you what is important and what is not. With God as the source of your strength, you are free to be the ‘khayil’ person He created you to be. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there IS liberty! (2 Cor. 3:17)