Proverbs 31 scares me. The Virtuous Woman’s kitchen floor was always perfectly clean, no sticky messes for visitors’ sandals to stick to. She never ran by the bakery fifteen minutes before school for “homemade” cookies because her child forgot to tell her she was homeroom mother that week. And I assure you the Virtuous Woman never said to her husband, “Whoops, I forgot to go to the market. Can you bring a lamb home to roast?” I’d be afraid to let that paragon of virtue into my home. If there’s a checklist for perfection, there are no checks in my boxes. Seriously.
Take cooking. As a newlywed, I’d drag myself out of bed and make a full breakfast for my man. Remember this was over thirty years ago, when wives still did things like that. After a week, he confessed he didn’t like breakfast but ate it so my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. Well, I didn’t need to be told twice. I threw in the spatula and went back to bed. I didn’t make breakfast again until my son came along.
My sewing skills didn’t earn any medals either. Again, hark back to the olden days when schools still taught Home Ec. Knowing how to sew was a top priority for women. However, even my supportive, loving mother couldn’t figure out how to wear the apron I created.
And then there’s cleaning. If God is in the “big upstairs” wearing a white glove, ready to sweep it across the top of my shelves, I might as well give up now.
Fortunately, the lady in Proverbs isn’t a real woman. She’s a combination of virtues for which to strive. And that’s good news for people like me, who find “adequate” a sometimes daunting task. Even though I know God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, there are still nights I snuggle under the covers waiting for sleeping bliss, but instead my mind says, “Let me remind you how you screwed up today.”
It doesn’t help that it seems like everyone but me has their act together.
Is there some domestic secret? Why does everyone else seem to breeze through being a wife and mother, while I barely manage to limp along?
I remember one Sunday morning, between class and worship service, I caught up with a friend and fellow mother of a two-year-old.
She taught as a college professor.
Her house always looked perfect.
All the treats at her son’s birthday party were hand-crafted.
Maybe, just maybe, she could give me some tips on being perfect. Or at least help me achieve average a little more often.
“Sometimes, it just gets overwhelming,” I ventured to say as my son wiggled in my arms.
She laughed. “I know exactly what you mean. This morning my husband had to grab a pair of socks out of the dirty clothes.”
I managed to shut my mouth so it didn’t look like I was angling for someone to drop a worm in it. “The dirty clothes?”
“Yes. That’s just the way it goes some mornings, isn’t it?”
She helped me that day. Her secret wasn’t perfection. It was confidence in the fact that she didn’t have to be perfect.
So what if the cake isn’t homemade? It’s bought with love.
So what if I read a bedtime story instead of cleaning? I’ll just tell everyone the dust bunnies are pets.
So what if I’m sometimes slow at getting the laundry done? If it doesn’t smell, no one knows the difference.
No one is perfect. We tend to cut everyone else some slack while holding ourselves up to impossible standards we can never meet. So, my challenge for myself is to start treating myself like I’m my best friend. When I look in the mirror every morning, I give my best friend a compliment. When I screw up, I cut my best friend some slack.
God loves me imperfections and all.
As for the Virtuous Woman, although there are days I like to imagine her cowering beside the washer, eating chocolate and hiding from her kids, I still strive to emulate her. I’ve just learned to give myself a break when I fail.
I am a woman formed by God’s hands, shaped by His love, and saved by His sacrifice.
And that’s perfect enough for me!
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I feel for young wives these days. So much pressure from social media to have perfect homes and perfect meals and perfect lives. This was spot on. Thank goodness for the true perfection of Jesus Christ and his love that covers me!
I feel for today’s young moms who have to deal with social media and the images of perfection it portrays. Perfect homes, perfect kids, perfect bodies, perfect meals, perfect lunches etc. etc. Thank goodness for the true perfection of Christ and the love he lavishes on us all. This was beautifully written!
I have found myself feeling defeated before I ever got started when it came to the Proverbs 31 woman. When we lived overseas and even everyday ordinary things were so so hard, I would think “I’m never going to get this right. Not even a little bit.” Thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to be perfect–just willing to listen to the One who can make all things good and new again.
OH MY GOSH THIS: Her secret wasn’t perfection. It was confidence in the fact that she didn’t have to be perfect.
Pinterest gets me these days. I always have to stop and remind myself that the photos on there are posed, and chances are peoples houses DON’T look that clean all of the time. I’m with you, sometimes you just have to get through the day!
“We tend to cut everyone else some slack while holding ourselves up to impossible standards we can never meet.” — this is SO true!!!!! MORE GRACE, LESS PERFECTION. 😉 Great post.
I recently read that the Proverbs 31 woman did not do all of those things simultaneously, but over her lifetime. I hope so. There is only one me.
One thing that has helped me is proper communication with my husband. When I know exactly what is expected of me, then I can be the virtuous wife that HE needs. For example, my husband couldn’t care less if I served him a frozen pizza for supper, but he wouldn’t like it if I left a sink full of dirty dishes consistently. Knowing what he wants helps me to invest my time in the areas he deems most important!
It’s God’s ideal woman – and we just strive and do our best every day
We need to remember that the Proverbs 31 woman accomplished all those things in a lifetime, and that she had lots of servants.
My favourite part was telling people that the dust bunnies are pets. Social media is the worst, but if feels like there is more of a backlash amongst moms my age.
So grateful that the blood of Christ makes of perfect before the Father.
Amen! I found that I do a pretty good job of acting like I have it all together, but that the women around me needed to know it was work, that I sometimes failed. And I needed humility. My brokenness is more powerful than my pretense of perfection ever was. Through my brokenness God’s power is more perfect.
Thanks for the reminder that the Proverbs 31 woman is an ideal, not a living, breathing, forgetting, failing person like the rest of us. I don’t know if this is true or if people have always said this, but I feel that the societal standards are ever higher. Todays moms are expected to look like supermodels, maintain beautiful houses, have successful professional careers, and produce attractive and well-adjusted children. It just can’t be done! I have great respect for my mother for being wise enough to choose what to value and strive for and what to let go to enable… Read more »
Such a timely message for all of us! Thanks for sharing it.