You have to give it to King Solomon. I mean, really. He writes enough proverbs, aphorisms, and proverbs for wise living to fill 30 chapters. And then he pens an Epilogue that would alternately confound and infuriate women for the next 2500 years. Who is this woman? And how did she do it all without losing her mind? Because frankly, I don’t do half of that and I’m about to lose my mind!
Her husband is confident in her (Proverbs 31:11). Okay, that I can handle. God matched me with a guy who trusts me and supports me in everything I try. I respect and admire him, and brag about his culinary skills, his ability to get along with pretty much anyone, and his work ethic. Our marriage is a mutual admiration society of two. So, King’s Solomon’s note about the marriage relationship can be checked as accomplished.
From there; however, it’s a downhill slide for me. As I read it, this woman seeks out the best clothes made from sustainable fabrics for her family, finds the best organic food, prepares a hearty breakfast before her family arises, and makes sure her hired help is paid a living wage. Well, the only thing on that list that doesn’t strike me full of guilt is the part about ensuring the well being of the servants—and that’s because I don’t have any. I can assure you that my whole family is clothed and fed, but as for sustainability and organic? Well, the thrift store does count as one of the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), and food is food, right? That whole getting up before the sun, though—I’m a night owl married to a morning lark. He likes to cook. I can’t deny him the blessing of preparing breakfast, can I? So, I suppose I’m not a complete failure on verses 13-15 either.
Evidently this woman has a knack for real estate, marketing, and budgeting—plus she is a DIYer. I consider myself pretty crafty, but I don’t produce much that is actually marketable—even if I had any skill for promotion. Real estate? I’d like a cottage on the beach, but I don’t know the first thing about buying or selling, unless you consider binge-watching House Hunters an education. Budget, though? That I can do. I don’t like it, but I can make a budget so the bills get paid on time and the power stays on. Still that’s less than 50 percent success, so, I can’t really claim verses 16-19 as skills.
Helping others? Oh yes, I do that. I love making scarves and hats and leaving them to be found by people who need them. Food drives and other events are part of my regular habit, as is supporting charitable groups that secure clean water and education for communities that don’t have ready access to either. And my children never went cold in winter unless it was by choice. I get a momentary respite from guilt in verses 20-23.
Clothed in fine linen? Sure. The thrift store is a treasure trove. Making and selling? Not so much. One actually needs skills to do that. I have cerebral skills but nothing that produces anything practical for the merchants. Verses 22-24 are pretty much a bust.
Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t intend for every woman to have these skills. It would be a pretty boring world if every woman could sew professionally, compete in the real estate market, dress like royalty, and thrive on fewer than six hours of sleep each night. But, women are as varied and unique as the flowers that bloom in spring. God gives each of us the skills and talents we need to fulfil the roles He has for us. And for some of us, it may be the well-put together homemaker-business woman with husband and children who appreciate her abilities and her devotion. But, many of us are not in that situation. Some of us have skills that don’t have a place in the market. Some of us are single. Some of us have no children. Some are single moms, working long hours and still feeling insecure and inferior. Some of us have children who run away from the values we try to instill in them. In fact, there are far more of us who look at this list of desirable qualities put together by Solomon and are ready to forget trying to be noble. Why bother if it is an impossibility?
For more of King Solomon Said What?, order your copy of the Spring 2016 issue here.