Last week, I wrote about Supermom—the Proverbs 31 woman. While it is noble for us as women to aspire to the example in Proverbs, many of us find ourselves crippled because we don’t measure up (at least in our own eyes). It is a daunting description of the ultimate multi-tasker; she seems to bear all of the weight of her family on her own shoulders.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
“At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”
We women were created to be helpers, to give of ourselves for others. We were created to love and nurture, to come alongside and support. For me personally, few things fulfill me like helping others. But, how often do we fail to realize that the helper role is only one part of who we are.
In addition to a helper, God created us as His daughter, a Princess, a royal-heir of the kingdom of God. He created us to build up and encourage the body of Christ. He created us to nurture our children and lead them into a deeper faith. He created us to fulfill our specific role in the Body of Christ, to use our spiritual gifts for the good of the Church. He created us to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
Too often, we lose ourselves in the role of helper. I know I did. In my years as pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom, every moment of my time was spent helping others. I poured myself into helping my husband with church work. I poured myself into caring for my kids. I poured myself into leading children’s and women’s ministries at the church. And I neglected every other part of who God created me to be.
You see, I was so busy doing that I failed to focus on being.
I did great things! I began an AWANA program that reached half the kids in our small Texas town. I stepped in and taught Wednesday night services when my husband was out of town. I was even known to take the pulpit a couple of times on Sunday mornings (shhh… Good Southern Baptist girls aren’t supposed to do that!).
But, when did I learn who I was? When did I step out and use the gifts God gave me beyond my husband’s ministry? When did I use the gift of writing that I always knew God had planted within me? When did I allow God to mold me into the vessel that He could use?
Not until everything was stripped away from me.
When I lost my ministry, I was still. When I lost my marriage, I had nothing but Jesus. When I lost my financial security, I had to be dependent upon God to provide.
I had been so busy doing good things that I had missed the most important things.
So, where does the Proverbs 31 woman fit into our lives? After the most important things.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Martha may have been the perfect Proverbs 31 woman. Perhaps she had studied the passage and sought to emulate it to perfection. But, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was best: sitting at His feet, listening to His voice, resting in His presence. All the doing in the world was just a distraction to being what Jesus wants us to be.
I so often get caught up in the cares of this world that I become distracted from what is really important. My relationship with my Savior must be my priority at the expense of everything else on my to-do list. If I am not taking the time to be in my Savior’s presence, my life will be chaotic.
In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 1 Peter 3:1-5
These words may strike outrage in today’s society! After all, why are men to be the authority? For me, the words bring comfort. As a single mom, I bear the weight of making all the decisions for myself and my children. I may get the glory when things go well, but I get to bear the responsibility when things don’t turn out the way I hoped. I am responsible for determining the direction of my family, and I don’t have anyone else to guide me. I, personally, long for the day when I no longer bear the entire burden on my own shoulders.
I would love to be able to look at my husband—a man that I know has the best interest of our family in mind, a man who is seeking God’s will, a man who loves me and protects me—and be able to say, “Honey, I trust you to hear God’s voice and be obedient.” I long to have a man who desires to lead me and our children into a deeper relationship with God. I long to have a man who exercises loving, respectful authority over me.
While every woman was created to enjoy beauty, God tells us that it is inner beauty that He values. He values a quiet and gentle spirit. He values pure and reverent lives. He values our faith in Him and our submission to authority. How can we cultivate these values if we are so busy in our daily lives?
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
God wants us to love Him so much, to be so lost in Him, that His words simply fall from our lips. He wants us to get His words inside of us, because we can’t get them inside of our children unless they are inside of us. He wants us to talk about His word, His commands all the time—while we are driving the kids to activities, while we are hanging out in the front yard shooting hoops, while we are eating dinner. He wants us to talk about His word as we tuck them in at night, when they get up in the morning.
Have you ever been dry spiritually? You know, you can’t seem to have a conversation with God or a conversation with your kids about God? Is it possible that you’ve been so busy doing that you’ve failed to focus on getting the word into your heart? Luke 6:45 tells us that our mouths speak from the overflow of our heart. If your heart isn’t filled with God’s word, you won’t be able to speak it.
This season as a single mom is incredibly busy. However, I am learning to let go of some of the Proverbs 31 expectations in favor of time with my Savior. Will it really count that I had homemade meals on the table seven days a week? Will it matter that my house was perfectly clean every time someone stopped by? Will my children remember that the toilets were always sparkling clean?
I’m learning that it’s much more fun to have the house where all the kids want to hang out. I’m learning that sitting at Jesus’ feet frees me to focus on being a better mom. I’m learning that my beauty is from the inside. I’m learning that my children will rise up and call me blessed because of who I am—not just what I do.