Do any of you find yourselves overwhelmed by an endless to do list? How about feeling insecure because you dont’ think you’re good enough?
You might need more self care……. or BETTER SELF CARE
You see self care has over 20 different ways of positively impacting our marriages and those around us. From increasing your availability to your spouse. To preventing burn out. To increasing your health!
It can decrease worry, increase confidence, it can help You be your best self!
We are looking at Proverbs 31 and taking a look at how the excellent wife does self care for a number of reasons today.
#1- This passage is in The book of Proverbs, also known as the book of wisdom. It is not a set of promises but instead a book of sound advice.
#2- Even if it was not written for women to look up to, this passage has certainly been looked to as such and therefore needs to be addressed accordingly as a considerable starting point, for how we as wives and women are meant to live our lives.
#3- Proverbs 31 has great examples of setting positive boundaries, self care and walking as women of God.
The poem starts with a huge set up for mixed emotions. I don’t know about you but I think the first question says it all. Starting in Vs 10: “An Excellent Wife, Who can find?” Christian women all over the world want to be this wife. Who wouldn’t want to be talented, productive, strong, caring and fearless as this woman?
But not everyone has the talents for business opportunities, gifts and creativity to make clothes for the family. I don’t know of anyone that may be a morning or night person like this Proverbs 31 woman!😊
Its the standard that can never be reached. So shame begins to creep right in. Other emotions may show their face too, anger, disappointment, sadness, fear, stress to visit our days just to remind us how far we are from succeeding as an excellent wife.
As the stress rises, so does the discouragement. And we have to wonder is this the life God meant for us to take out of His Word?
A wise author once quoted “God never urges us to feel guilty for not having Gifts we’ve not been given. Or for not doing good that we are physically unable to do”.
So if the Proverbs 31 woman only makes us feel guilty or inadequate, we are likely not understanding her and the way God designed us all.
These mixed emotions comes from stressing out over the wrong things. I have been there in life stressing out over what I can’t do rather than what I can and are able to do.
So what is really going on here in Proverbs 31 and what can we as women gain from it?
I found something from several authors as I studied out who wrote Proverbs 31 and the background behind these verses.
You see, this was written by the mother of King Lemuel in the bible for her son to learn what to look for in a Wife some day. Some say King Lemuel was actually King Solomon.
Also In Jewish culture, Proverbs 31 was meant for men to memorize and sing as a song of Praise to the WOMEN in their lives. That is WOMEN (Plural), from little to big, daughter to friends and for the men to sing to them. That is women of all gifts and talents.
These verses could be written to indicate a summary of a fruitful life of a woman over many productive years, highlighting faithful things she did at various times throughout her life.
It is not just some high bar set up for us to achieve and shame us when we don’t. It was said as something to encourage us. Can we get a big SIGH of relief!!! That sounds better than it seeming like we as women have ALL that to do at once!
Proverbs 31 is not just a laundry list of “to do’s”, rather than for the SPIRIT and motivation that drives this virtuous woman.
What guides her heart of wisdom in everything she does, the most important motivation can be found in the last verse of Proverbs (31:30) “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”!
This woman fears the Lord! In other words, she sees the wisdom in wanting to obey what God tells her to do and to honor the Lord her whole life. It is her heart for honoring the Lord with her life, and living with true wisdom that God wants us women to imitate and follow.
Lets keep going to the next verses: Vs 11-12: Is more of how we as wives are to be trustworthy. A woman who fears the Lord wants to love and honor her husband. Clearly the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband affirms her efforts because it says his heart trusts in her. In Verse 12 it says “She does him good and not harm all the days of her life”. She doesn’t just do him (her husband) good on special occasions, but every day. Even when she may feel upset with him. It is important to her that her husband trusts her. To confide in her and know she will keep his words private.
Guarding the husbands honor and not speaking unfavorably of him before others. Managing the home in a way he feels secure entrusting it to her. We do not need to have special gifts to be trustworthy, we simply need to value our husbands in a way that honors them and the Lord.
If this is a hard area for you that you struggle in: Pray for God to give you a different perspective. To view your husband the way God sees him and not through our limited view or raw emotions at different times.
The excellent wife sets priorities as seen in Vs. 13-16– She is hard working with willing hands. We see the Proverbs 31 woman has many gifts and can do many things.
But the point is not to make every woman feel like they have to do EVERYTHING this woman does. The point is that we need to be WILLING to work hard at what God is calling us to do, and that it pleases God when we desire to do our labor as excellently as we can in whatever season we are in.
How should we do good work? With WILLINGNESS. Willingness comes from the heart, its driven by LOVE. Not to be confused with desire. when we have willingness we can be ready to do almost anything.
“Remember each women may be in a different season of life with different gifts, talents and priorities; with each having a different calling. If we are in the baby/toddler season; do that work as excellently as you are called to do. If you are in a teenager season, do the same. If your season looks like the empty nest phase with no kids or just starting out thinking of growing a family; still do your responsibilities with excellence. Each season looks different with different priorities, but still doing them with the same willingness and love that God requires with our own individual gifts and talents.”
This Woman does not waste time, rather she fills her time with productive, helpful activity. There is no indication of her complaining about her responsibilities. She is concerned with serving her family and others, bringing a spirit of openhanded willingness to her work.
With God’s help we are able to work hard, resist wasting time, bring a willing gracious spirit to the things and people we are entrusted with in our lives.
In Verse 17-strength . This woman dresses herself with Strength. She knows taking care of her body is a priority. She is up and moving, eating right and tackling everyday tasks.
Where does the strength come from? It comes from the Lord. What does putting on strength mean? Fearing God, walking in the way of the Lord, Praying and seeking the Lord, keeping your body fed with nutritious food, meditating on Gods word and gaining wisdom. Faith and Hope in God and most importantly salvation and trust in God.
Aside from taking care of our physical body, the majority of self care that increases our strength comes in the form of spiritual disciplines including prayer, worship and meditating on Gods word. Taking care of your new creation and walking in the strength of the Lord allows you to continue making sacrifices and serving the Lord and loving on your family weathering well the stress of life.
Vs. 25 we see Dignity. Dignity is defined as the state of being worthy of respect as well as a composed manner. We use dignity by deciding what is worth doing. Clothing yourself in Dignity looks like taking care of yourself and whats in your control. You have to have self care in order to be composed, and when you are composed you are demonstrating self control, your actions are trustworthy, and your words are thoughtful. She is not a worrier- in fact, she laughs at the future to come. She has trusted God with Her life and future.
Vs 26- She is strong in Wisdom and Kindness. “The teaching of kindness is on her tongue”. We see evidence of this truth when she daily does her husband good (Vs 12) and her children rise up and call her blessed as she teaches them (Vs 28) and she opens her hand to the poor and needy (Vs. 20).
Do those around us delight in our kind and caring spirit? We can all with God’s help work to deal kindly with the people that God places in our lives, and we can make it a point to devote some of our time, talent and gifts to helping those less fortunate.
A woman who trusts in the Lord is finally free to be truly strong. she isn’t worrying over things which she has no control. She trusts God to help and care for her and her family in all the ways she cannot, then she works to do the things she can.
Her part is to live, work and love in a way that honors God. He is responsible for the rest, and His Son has covered her many shortcomings with His own blood.
The nature of how this proverbs 31 woman does things matters. Each task the excellent wife completes throughout the days can be summarized by fearing God. Clothing, food, decision making and generosity . Lets set an expectation that we will serve out of love and not out of desperation. We will work out of the abundance the Father has supplied for us. And not as a slave to our fleshly desire to be praised.
The proverbs 31 woman does not present an impossible standard; she presents a godly standard-what we could actually call “Christlike” today. These verses should inspire us to desire her fear of the Lord, her dedication to earning the trust of her husband, her work ethic, her strength and kindness.
The time the Virtuous woman spends is wisely, she works diligently to complete her daily tasks . She does not spend her time dwelling on those things that do not please the Lord . To summarize it all, as a virtuous woman, we are called to continue doing good all of our lives in each stage and season we are in. We do not need to grow weary in doing good because we have God.
Proverbs 31 is not a reflection of someone who is running themselves into the ground. Nor is it a reflection of someone with super powers. Our self care is gaining appropriate support, seeking wise council and friendship if needed.
Self care is setting realistic goals for ourselves in each stage of life, knowing what we can and cannot do, not taking on too much or things God never meant for us to take on. Not stretching ourselves too thin that we have no time for our own responsibilities. We can become overwhelmed when we do not set boundaries, recognize our priorities, and not live within our values we will feel constantly stressed.
No matter what others are doing around us, not comparing ourselves but recognizing the women God created us to be with motivation from the Spirit and doing life with honor and love.
Now, say goodbye to comparison!! Rely on God to lead and provide in your life in each season we find ourselves in. The proverbs 31 woman had confidence knowing who God is and who she was. Taking care of yourself is less about being self centered and more about being God centered. Let your works speak for themselves. Set your priorities with God at the head and stop looking for praises . Your Father in heaven knows everything you do and will provide for your every need. Be strong and courageous.
You are loved! Never give up!