If you’re a young woman associated with almost any Christian circle, you’ve probably been told at some point that the Proverbs 31 woman is what you should strive to be. And while the woman described in Proverbs chapter 31 is an excellent example to follow, maybe we shouldn’t be striving so hard to be just like her.
When we strive to be the woman described in this passage of scripture in our own strength, we actually cripple ourselves. When we pick a person in scripture to be like, we often lose some focus and suddenly find ourselves worn out from humanly trying to exemplify another human. We forget that we can’t do anything or become a better version of ourselves in our own strength; we need our Saviour to transform us.
In our pursuit of becoming the Proverbs 31 woman, we start the vicious cycle of comparison and find ourselves grossly inadequate. But…maybe we were never meant to be like her. Let’s look at some context here.
First, Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is a book of King Solomon’s wisdom. It’s full of advice for dealing with different relationships, as well as discernment and finding wisdom. At the very end of the book, we have a passage apparently written by Lemuel, who writes out an oracle his mother used to tell him.
Yep, Proverbs 31 was written to a man, not women.
The second part of this passage is actually describing the kind of women this woman’s son should be seeking for a wife. So yes, these are excellent virtues we should be seeking. But we cannot wear ourselves down trying to obtain the perfection described in this passage.
I’m not saying that we women should not seek to have the characteristics described in Proverbs 31, or that we can ignore that passage because it’s addressed to a guy. Definitely not! We don’t get to ignore passages of scripture simply because they don’t seem to apply to us. What I am asking is, are we looking at Proverbs 31 with the wrong perspective?
Rather than Proverbs 31 being the goal to achieve, it should be a guideline to use. What I mean is that though we will probably never achieve the perfection described in the passage, we should still seek those characteristics and work towards them in Christ’s strength. Proverbs 31 hurts us when we set standards for ourselves that we can’t achieve in our own strength.
In seeking to become a Proverbs 31 woman or wife, we can take our focus off of being like Christ. And when anything becomes a distraction from being like Christ, it is a stumbling block in our path.
However, we know that we can become worn out seeking to be like Christ in our own strength. The key to being successful in molding our hearts into that of Christ’s is allowing Him to do the work in our hearts. Just like looking to the woman described in Proverbs 31 as our example, we need to ask God to change and mold our hearts into ones that reflect His.
Have you ever compared yourself to the woman described in Proverbs 31? Did it help you or hinder you in your walk with Christ?
As we near the end of the summer wedding season, newlyweds and weddings have been on my mind (and in my Facebook feed). The whole process of becoming engaged, planning a wedding, and barely remembering the special day because gosh, it went by way too fast, is super exciting. But once you settle into your new role as wife, it can be overwhelming. I’ve been married for almost a year (which is kinda crazy) and I’m still trying to figure out running a household with both efficiency and grace. Not an easy balance, I might add.
So for all the new wives or soon-to-be wives out there: here are some tips for finding balance with your new responsibilities!
1. Have an honest discussion with your husband about expectations.
You’ve probably heard that communication is the key to marriage. I can say with confidence that this is so true! Discussing expectations with each other is crucial to figuring out your individual responsibilities as a couple.
When William and I got married, I had never cut the grass before. I grew up with a dad and two brothers who took care of that; it was just never required of me. But William grew up in a home where his mom was usually the one cutting the grass. It seems like a minor thing, but we had to figure out our responsibilities. Who would be the one cutting the grass or doing dishes each night? Did I want his help cleaning the house? Did he expect me to help with yard work?
Talking through your expectations can help avoid a lot of needless conflict later on. If you can reach compromises before the issue even arises, you can save yourself some hurt.
2. Realize that you’re his wife, not his mom.
You’re marrying him. You are equals. You complement each other in different ways, and hopefully you’ve figured out a rough guideline for what your roles and responsibilities will be in your new home. While you’re filling your new role, recognize that replacing his mother is not part of that role.
This is mostly an attitude thing. Sure, in some ways you’ll take on some responsibilities that his mom carried in her household. Maybe you do all the housecleaning, or you cook a good meal every night. Maybe you get his lunch ready and make sure he always has a good stock of clean socks. Those are all good things, and are great ways to show him that you love him. But don’t cook just because he’s “incapable” of feeding himself. Don’t do those things because if you don’t, he won’t be able to figure it out. Don’t pick up after him constantly because he’s not responsible enough to clean up after himself.
Those are things you will do for your kids because kids often don’t know better or aren’t old enough to operate a washing machine. When you treat your husband as a kid, as someone who isn’t capable of taking care of himself so you “have to”, you’ll become resentful very quickly, and you will no longer be doing those tasks willingly and with joy. When you carry out your tasks out of love for you husband rather than obligation, you’ll have more joy in your attitude.
3. Remember you’re building a new household, not imitating your parents’.
You were raised one way, and your husband was raised another. Some couples were raised more similarly than others. It’s super important to remember that you’re taking two different ways of doing things and creating a new way. Rather than debating over who’s way is better, find a new way to do things.
This is something William and I quickly realized was important. Not long after we were married, I made a comment about how I felt like a bad wife because I didn’t have a full, home-cooked meal on the table every night. I was comparing myself to my mom, who had supper on the table every night like clockwork. William’s response was, “But your mom stayed at home when you were a kid. You’re working full time.” He was right. The other part of the equation is that a lot of the time, William isn’t home for supper. His job requires him to work late anywhere from one to three times a week. When he’s not home, it’s easier for me to just heat up leftovers. We aren’t doing things the way our parents did, but we’re doing what works for us. We aren’t here to prove who’s way is better, but to create our own way of doing things.
If you’re married, what were some things you had to adjust to in the early days of marriage?
No one is perfect, and this is especially true in marriage. Marriage is the closest relationship you will ever have with another person. As a result, marriage reveals two people’s greatest flaws.
When you’re a wife, you experience both the greatest joys and deepest hurts that come with marriage. There will be times of laughing and times of sorrow. One example of sorrow is when your husband hurts you (and unfortunately, it will happen; remember, we’re all imperfect). Here are some practical ways to respond when your husband hurts you, and honour God in your response.
1. Don’t say anything right away.
Chances are, whatever it is your husband confesses to you is going to hurt you; maybe hurt you very deeply. You may be able to just take a breath and move on, or you may be left reeling for a couple days. No matter the gravity of your husband’s confession, give yourself a few minutes to process. Personally, I need to internally process something before I can even hope to communicate my feelings clearly in a tense situation. Take all the time you need, but even more importantly, communicate that to your husband.
2. Stay calm.
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the first point, but staying calm is crucial. First of all, your husband has really just stuck his neck out to confess something to you, and the last thing he needs is to be called all kinds of names or yelled at for doing something so dumb. Trust me: if he’s confessing to you, it’s because he has been convicted and knows he needs to tell you. Now is not the time to preach at him.
When your husband hurts you, the last thing you are going to feel like doing is praying. Yet it is the best thing you can do. Satan is going to try and use hurts, arguments, and anger to tear your marriage apart. God created marriage, and Satan doesn’t want to see it succeed. You could be strongly tempted to completely shut down and harbour bitterness toward your husband, but you need to say “no” to the temptation. Instead, pray. Even if it’s just a “help, God.”
4. Forgive. And forgive. Then forgive again.
For the longest time, I thought forgiveness was a sweet emotion that came a couple days after someone hurt me, and then all would be right in the world again. But I quickly learned that forgiveness is a hard, often painful choice. It is not easy to forgive someone. Look at what Jesus had to go through so that the Father might be able to forgive us through Him! Yet because of His great love, Christ died for us, despite the pain. It was a hard choice for Him to make, yet out of love He chose the path of forgiveness.
You are going to have to decide to forgive your spouse when he hurts you. And then the next morning when you wake up and remember the hurt, you will have to forgive him again. Then a few days later, you’ll be walking into work and Satan will remind you of what he did, and you’ll have to forgive again. You’ll have to ask God to help you to forgive your husband over and over and over again. It will be hard. But guess what? It will slowly become less and less difficult to forgive him. When we remember how much God has forgiven in us, it becomes an easier choice to make. You do not have to feel forgiving in order to forgive.
5. Talk it out.
Before I got married, I always heard that communication is important in marriage. When I got married, I realized it wasn’t just important…it was crucial to having a God-honouring, thriving marriage.
When you’ve had a chance to calm down and think a little more clearly, listen to everything your husband has to say. Ask questions, even if you’re not sure you want to know the answers. Complete transparency is important. Then share how you’re feeling (calmly) and how this affects you. Please don’t shut down and block out the problem. Be brave and deal with it head-on, relying on God for His perfect strength.
6. Get some support.
Honestly, this is somewhat optional. Depending on what your husband confesses to you, it may be wise to seek other Christian help, such as talking through the issue with a trusted pastor or mentor. If the issue is serious, don’t try to deal with it alone! Talking to others can go a long way to bring you both closer to healing.
This is also a good idea if conversations between you and your husband aren’t going well. If you seem to flare up and speak out of anger, it is wise to have a wise Christian person “moderate” these discussions so that effective communication can happen. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help! We were all made for community, and God often works in our lives through other believers.
7. Stay on your husband’s side.
Remember, he is hurting too. It took a lot of courage for him to talk to you, especially if he knew it would hurt you. Yes, you may be hurting, but you are his wife. He needs your support, especially right now. Try to encourage him, let him know he’s forgiven, and that you’re not going anywhere. No, you don’t need to overlook the offense—it will need to be dealt with—but through that, you still love him. Satan is trying to pull you apart. If he can turn you against each other, he has won. Don’t give him that advantage. Fight for your marriage! A strong marriage is so worth it.
8. Have courage…take heart.
Sister, take heart. The Lord of Lords and eternally-loving Father is near. He hears your cries and feels your broken heart. He will never leave, nor forsake you. He is with you every step, and the struggles you’re going through right now will pass. It is in our struggles that we see His strength.
A verse that has really encouraged me is 1 Peter 5:10:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
What a wonderful promise! Paul doesn’t deny that we will struggle, but he says that there is an end to the suffering. And not only that, but God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
I hope this has helped some of you. If you have any questions or comments, you can email me by going to the Ask a Question tab at the top of the page or you can leave a comment below. Blessings!
In the last little while, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts popping up about how the church needs to do more to accommodate for the millennial generation, or why millennials are leaving the church. (You can check out one of these posts at Recklessly Alive–he has some good points!) I can understand why so many young people are looking at their church and wondering how they can get more out of it. I’ve made a list of some things you can do if you’re struggling with liking your church.
1. Check your motives & attitude.
The first thing we should be doing when we don’t like the church we’re at is look at ourselves before we look anywhere else. Ask yourself, why don’t you like your church? Is it a matter of the church or do your motives need to be checked? It’s important to make sure your reasons aren’t selfish. When your heart’s in the right place, you can start to look around.
Seeking God’s will and listening to His voice is always important to do in every situation. What would God have you do? Take the time to tell Him of your struggles, then listen to hear what He would have you do. Does He want you to wait or begin to seek out a new local church? Ultimately, nothing will truly help your situation if you are not walking in His will.
3. Find a place to serve.
Every church has an area you can serve in, no matter what size it is. I’ve been a part of a smaller church (approximately 30 congregants at the time) and more medium-large churches (services of 300 attendants). In every church, there is always an area to serve—whether that’s helping out in the nursery or serving coffee after church; leading a group of youth or simply being an encouragement to those around you. There is great joy in serving. Christ Himself came to serve, not be served. If you’re feeling a little disconnected, getting involved is a great way to connect with others!
4. Find someone to mentor & disciple you.
Your pastor is only one person! Unfortunately, he probably simply doesn’t have time to take the time to mentor you individually. Because of this, it’s a great idea to find someone in your church who can mentor or disciple you. Find someone you admire, such as an older woman, and ask if she would be willing to mentor you—meeting together every now and then. Ask her to keep you spiritually accountable and pray for each other.
Take this one step further and find someone you can mentor. There are so many younger girls who are going through middle school and high school, trying to figure out the world of boyfriends, womanhood, and everything else life has to offer. By taking someone under your wing, you’ll not only be a help to them, but you’ll also learn and grow in your own spiritual walk.
5. Check your devotions and prayer life.
Church is great when it comes to corporate worship, fellowship with other believers, and learning. But it’s not meant to keep you going all week. If you’re feeling a little spiritually dry and believe your church is the problem, check again…it could be your personal prayer life. If you aren’t regularly spending time in the Word, you won’t grow closer to Jesus. Church isn’t meant to replace your own personal time with Jesus.
6. Look at your church.
Yes, evaluating your church is the last thing on my list. When I moved to a different city for my last year of school, my roommate and I began the oh-so-fun church hunt. We chose against some because there were no young people, and others because there were way to many (literally a few hundred university students). You should definitely look at your church and seriously consider whether or not it’s a good fit for you, but only after you check yourself. There’s no doubt that there are many different churches out there—churches with mostly older people, churches geared towards younger families; some churches are super-charismatic, while others are really structured.
Finding a church you’re comfortable attending is so important. The problem happens when we believe the church is there to serve us. The truth is, we are the church, and we are to serve each other. Let’s start being the change in our churches!
I’ve been noticing a trend on the Internet lately, even in Christian circles.
“10 ways to find yourself.”
“3 ways to learn self-love.”
“7 habits to discover who you are.”
When I see these posts on other blogs and social media, my heart aches.
You do not need to find yourself. You do not need to learn to love yourself. Oh, sister…no.
What does the Bible say about self-love?
You won’t find the words “self-love” in the Bible, but you will find the word “pride” over and over…and over again. God has a lot of not-so-nice things to say about pride. His Word says that pride is the root of all evil. Satan loved himself, and he fell “like lightning from heaven.”
To paraphrase Francis Chan (love that guy), Satan’s power is deception. His main weapon is to lie to the children of God; to twist the Truth and pull us away from Him. One of his talents is making sin look beautiful. Satan takes something that goes against God’s Word and makes it look beautiful by making it sound good or by putting good music behind it. It’s not a stretch to say that while self-love sounds so good, it’s really just pride.
I can’t find any place in the Bible that tells us to love ourselves. We are told to love God and love others, but never ourselves.
You do not need to love yourself.
Jesus died so that you did not have to love yourself. He died so that you could be loved by your Father, the God of the Universe.
If I love myself, I won’t get anywhere. As a human, I need love. But I was not designed for my own love, or any other human’s, for that matter. I was designed to be loved perfectly, by my God.
I was not created for myself, but for God. So how could I get love from myself? I won’t ever “find myself”, no matter how long I search, because I was created to be Christ. If I start to focus on loving myself, my focus is pulled from loving the Lord and the people around me, which is what I’m commanded to do.
Instead of trying to love myself out of my own human imperfection, I can accept the unconditional, ever-present, unchanging love of my Father. When I find my worth in Him, I find who I truly am.
Maybe we need to stop trying to be ourselves and start striving to be Christ—the One we have always been meant to illuminate.