Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who Was She, Really? This woman of Proverbs 31

So, I've been thinking about this lately. A friend told me that she went to a marriage enrichment class with her husband and they spent some time on Prov 31. She was singled out and asked "What stands out to you about her?" Her answer was that she was a business woman, and that she obviously had servants. To her dismay she was confronted after the class for being disruptive to what they were 'trying to teach'. That the verses are about being a good wife and mother and THAT is what she should have seen out of these verses. She was told to go home and rethink her 'career' and how she parents her children.
So here's my first problem. I've never found a good way to describe it until now, but Travis found a book that really makes it clear to me. The bottom line is that I think people have the whole Bible wrong. It's treated as a recipe book or a magic formula that if we could just figure out the write combination we will be perfect Christians. If we keep analysing and marking our 'good deeds' on a list we'll make the grade. I don't think it works that way at all.
The Bible is a novel full of passion, pain, sacrifice, love, bondage and freedom. It was written to draw our hearts and make us fall in love with our Creator. Yes, there are obviously some clear Do's and Don'ts. I'm currently mourning a precious friendship lost due to a stand I was forced to make based on God's obvious will. But adhering to the rules should be a desire that comes as a SIDE EFFECT of the love affair of our soul with the one who Created it.
So having said that, I find the issue of the Proverbs 31 woman to be quite the opposite of other Biblical excerpts. Typically, I find that people will pick apart every word of every verse, tracing them back to the original Greek or Hebrew to unlock some mysterious intent. Not so with her. The description of Miss 31 begins in verse 10 and extends to the end of the chapter in verse 31. It's long and detailed. But every teaching I've heard focuses on less than half of the proverb. The parts where her husband praises her, her children rise and call her blessed. Charm is deceptive, to be sure, but that's just one verse out of twenty-two. These are the rewards and results of who she was. And who she was was more than these 22 verses tell us. That's what I want to find. Her heart.
So in these verses it is quite clear that she was, in fact, a business woman with servants. I don't intend to have servants. I wouldn't want them. I think I would panic if someone wanted to fold my laundry. Wait, I think I HAVE before more than once when it was offered. Sigh... I'm quite the mess.... So she spends every minute doing something productive. She doesn't wast her time, blah , blah...
OK, here is what I see. Miss 31 had a passion for life and everything in it. She was creative and loved beauty and found a way to express it in a way that would bless her family financially. She was wise, shrewd, bold, confident, creative in her art and in what she feeds her family ( I like that one). She was giving and had a heart for the poor and needy. She was passionate. Not many women back then had scarlet and purple clothing but she loved the beauty of color. She had no fear of the future but 'laughed at the days to come' as if to say bring it on! It talks about her husband being respected, but not necessarily because of her. I wonder if their marriage was so full of love that it was written all over their faces and their passion became an honor to him.
To be honest, I know that I can't live up to a list like that. If that's what was required, I wouldn't even try. I don't think it's healthy to use it as a checklist to work off of. What I do see is that this is the most clearly described woman of the Bible. This nameless woman who seems able to do anything and conquer all odds. My question is how did she get there?
This is what I believe. God called David a man after his own heart. I see these verses as the praise of a woman that God was well pleased with as well, so I will compare the two.
David was a mess. He was a murder, and adulterer, a liar. He wrote just as many Psalms of Angst and pain as he did of praise and awe. He groveled in ashes and was told to stop and be happy. He danced unabashed and was told to keep still. He was full of passion, yet made painful mistakes. Every time he fell flat on his face before his Creator. He poured out his pain as guiltless as his joys, knowing that his God was big enough to handle it all. And that he wanted it all.
Provers 31 is an epilogue. It comes after everything is said and done. Often to tell what does/will happen in the future. If we were to write an epilogue for King David it would be full of all of his victories and Triumphs. It would praise and honor him with every word. But there was more to him that that, to be sure. He was desperately human and flawed. Yet he never ceased to humbled himself and above all he NEVER EVER hardened his heart.
Miss 31 was what happened after. She was the reward to a son who heeded his father's word. That's what the Proverbs are all about, teachings to a son. She is the prize. And I'm OK with that. I would be honored and I WANT to be a reward to my husband and children. But I know that she had a life between the lines of this epilogue. She was passionate, full of trials and passion. I know that she was desperately flawed like me, and she struggled. But I believe she held her heart open to her God at all times.

So in my journey, I plan to work diligently with my budget, to be honorable with my business, to bless my husband and to raise my children as well as I can in my imperfection. I'll blog about my shopping. My findings. But I will be blatantly honest with my pain and struggles. As soon as something comes to mind I want to grab it and deal with it. That's what this is really about. Because I know that the bottom line is that Miss Proverbs 31 had an amazing heart. I'm doing the best I can to find my Creator in all of my trials and joys because ny heart wants to be like hers

No comments: