A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant, she brings her food from far away. She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all her household are clothed in crimson. She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the city gates, taking his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the city gates.
While I was listening to this reading, I was struck by how much this reminded me of me – or at least the me that I strive to be. The way that this woman works to make her family safe and cared for is something I strive to do. Let’s break it down and think about what’s written here. (Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, an expert, or anything else that gives me the right to interpret scripture. I am, however, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a person who likes to interpret things and relate them to my own life. And perhaps we all have the right to interpret scripture.)
First let’s talk about this woman and her husband. She builds him up, supports him, trusts him. He can trust her, he loves her. Jesse and I are coming up on the tenth anniversary of our wedding, and we’ve been a couple for over fourteen years. We have had ups and downs, trials and celebrations. I can honestly say that right now, in our marriage, we are happy. This past year has been so hard, but I know that it has brought us closer together. These days, we support each other, and we listen to each other. We’re taking the time to connect and appreciate each other. I am so proud of Jesse and how hard he works for our family, and I rejoice in the fact that he is making a name for himself in our city, he is known, and he is taking a seat with some of the elders. I honestly couldn’t love him more, or be more proud or thankful.
This portion of Proverbs reminds me to strive to keep our relationship as it is right now. To continue to listen to Jesse, to support him. It reminds me that it takes work to be the kind of wife who surpasses all the rest. But, it also reminds me that it is worth all that work.
Next, this passage talks about all the things this virtuous woman does to protect and care for her household. I love to make clothing for my children. I love to make clothing for myself. I have visions of closets full of mama-made clothing for the girls. I have dreams of owning my own sheep, shearing their wool (is that even what you’d say?), spinning it into yarn, and crafting beautiful sweaters and hats and mittens. I know that this is just a dream that will never happen, and honestly, I’m not sure I would really want to do all that. I can, however, buy fabric and sew clothes for our family. I want to do this more, because I truly love doing it. I’m still working on rising before my family in order to get things done… this is the week… my alarm is set…
This woman is also charitable, kind, and wise. We should all try to be all of these things. Coming into Autumn, I always start to look for ways to be more charitable. Advent is coming, and then the Feast of Stephen. I’ve written about how I want to focus on giving during the Christmas season, more than getting. This year, I think the girls are old enough to start understanding this concept. I plan on teaching this by example this year, and seeing how well the girls catch on. By doing this, I expect that I will feel happy, and the hope is that my children will see this and know this, and rise up and call me happy.
She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. This line seems important to me, especially now, this year. My One Little Word is STRONG and I feel like I haven’t done much with my Word this year. My resolve is renewed by doing the Whole30. This month has taught me how strong I am. When it comes to food, I’ve never felt like I have much self restraint. The month has taught me that I do. I’ve also started getting my ‘wrist party‘ daily again, and it feels so great to not eat the ‘bread of idleness.’ I’ve been moving more, eating better, and have been more motivated to create and write. This, to me, is strength and virtue.
So, it all comes together, doesn’t it? This past month, I have felt more active and inspired. This past month, our marriage has been stronger and happier. This past month, I have been creating and happy. I see that these are all related, and that one couldn’t happen without the other.
I am not trying to say that I am like this woman of virtue. I am not trying to make myself look amazing. I’m just trying to share my reactions. I also know that there are other ways to be a virtuous woman. Working full time to provide for their families, I have friends who are also virtuous wives and mothers and women. They show their strength and love to their families in ways that are just as valuable and important as all of this. They support their husbands and their children call them happy.
Things work in mysterious ways, and this reading from Proverbs coming into my life, on this particular Sunday was just one of those things.