It was Women’s Day the other day, and I’ve had a little time to reflect. In a recent class assignment we looked at the Proverbs 31 woman. To be honest, I’ve had a bit of a love hate relationship with her. She was both something to be admired and a symbol of oppressive ideology.
You see, I once belonged to a church where they used the Proverbs 31 woman as an example of what a wife and mother should be: a woman who submits, whose place is in the home, cooks, cleans, raises kids, and is frugal in all her ways. All of the Proverbs 31 woman’s other attributes and the full scope of her accomplishments was ignored. I had never felt like a second class citizen as a woman until this particular church organization. Keeping a house looking immaculate has never been my strong suit, and struggling with my mental health didn’t help in those endeavors either. I lost myself in trying to become this Proverbs 31 woman that was portrayed to me as the ultimate goal in becoming a godly woman. I tried to force myself into a mold that wasn’t designed for me (a mold that required me to give up desires and drives God had given me), and became increasingly frustrated that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fit the mold. When equality is measured in terms of how much equality others say you have it isn’t really equality. In other words, if a wife’s equality is measured by how much equality her husband says she has, then it isn’t true equality because it is dependent upon his definition of what equality looks like to him in the relationship. That is precisely the type of equality that was promoted in this version of the Proverbs 31 woman and she was expected to fit in that mold. Equality isn’t something that is given but rather it is a result of being viewed and treated as an equal.
The real Proverbs 31 woman while she may follow the lead of her husband as a leader (not a ruler) of the home she is a woman who is more than capable of holding her own and rocking it. She isn’t a slave to her house duties or husband but is a manager of the in’s and out’s of her household. Yes, she’s a great cook, makes sure her house is in order, knows how to spot a great deal, and is a great mother. But she is so much more than all of that. She is also an entrepreneur and business owner who is talented in many areas. She takes the time to help those who are in need, and is an all around Super Woman. She has the time management and leadership skills anyone would want to have.
I still view her as having awfully big shoes to fill but no longer view her as a subjugated woman. To make deals, to be an entrepreneur, to run businesses, and do all that she did requires respect, fortitude, and to not settle for be treated as less than. I now view her as a force to be reckoned with but not in an aggressive demanding way. She knew how to cultivate respect by treating others well. Becoming this version of the Proverbs 31 woman is well worth striving for because she shows us just how capable women are. I may never perfectly fill her shoes but she reminds me that I am more than capable of doing anything I put my mind to. The same goes for you. You are capable of great things. Your equality isn’t measured by what others may define as your equality but is a God given right to be viewed and treated as an equal.