Stop Trying to Be the Proverbs 31 Woman

Have you ever compared yourself to the Proverbs 31 woman? Here are my thoughts on why we should stop trying to achieve this perfection and what we should do instead!

 

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?

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Seeking God when He Seems Far Away

We've all had those mountain-top experiences. But what about when God seems to be far from us? How do we seek Him in those times? Click here to find out!

I loved going to youth conferences in high school. The bus trip, hanging out with friends, staying up late, great worship, amazing speakers. I would leave the youth conference so on fire for God, eager to love Him unconditionally and serve Him every day.

But inevitably, within the week, the spiritual “high” I was on would fade, and I would come down from the mountain to the plateau of everyday life. I was left wondering where my eagerness went, and if I was a bad Christian for being less interested in God.

The reality is that the Christian life isn’t supposed to be fuelled by these mountaintop experiences. There are lots of times of our lives during which God seems far away. The question is, what do we do when He seems to be far from us?

Spiritual check-up.

Whenever I realize that I’ve been drifting from God, I stop and take a look at my life lately. Have I been spending time in the Word? Have I been praying regularly? Am I taking time to worship and seek the Lord? If I’m not making an effort on my part, my relationship with God won’t grow. Great friendships happen when both people put an effort in; it’s the same with God. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but my relationship with Him won’t mature if I’m not putting any priority on it.

Re-prioritize spiritual disciplines.

There have been so many times where I’ve felt distant from God, only to realize that I haven’t been in the Word for two weeks. Not spending time with God has an impact on our lives! When I make Jesus a priority again, He is able to reveal Himself to me and I’m able to grow closer to Him.

Spend time in prayer.

There have been times when I’ve found myself far from God because I’ve actually been walking away from Him. There are so many things that get between us + God—new relationships, school/work stress, pride, selfish desires, wrong choices. I have often wondered why I’m far from God only to realize that I’ve been making decisions based on my own wants, rather than His will from my life.

Ask God to show you areas in your life that you need to give back to Him. Before I can seek after the Lord, I need to come to Him with these things and confess them. When we make ourselves right with God (that is, accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and intervention for us before God), we are free to seek Him and grow in our relationship with Him.

Seek, and you will find.

James 4:8 says this:

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…

God does not withhold from us. When we pursue Him, He awaits us with open arms. He is waiting for us to return to Him, and He will meet us where we are. Next time you’re feeling far from the Lord, remember that He has not left. He loves His children and has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Join the conversation! How do you seek God when you feel far from Him?

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Bible Study Tools: My Top 5 Essentials for Quiet Time

Are you overwhelmed by the number of Bible study resources available, or simply looking for a good place to start digging into God's Word? On the blog, I share my top 5 favourite Bible study tools! You can click here to read more!

Whether you’re a brand-new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for several years, Bible study is so important. But it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the number of resources and tools out there designed to help you study God’s Word. I’m a back-to-the-basics kinda girl, and I prefer studying the Word by itself to reading through a devotional. Reading books by Christian authors designed to help you grow in your faith is super valuable, but it still doesn’t replace time spent in God’s Word.

Today I’d like to share some of my favourite Bible study tools with you, as well as some tips to help you get more out of your quiet time!

1. My Bible.

I thought I’d start with the obvious: the actual Bible. Personally, I love my Thinline ESV Bible. I like the ESV version because it’s a word-for-word translation, rather than a phrase-for-phrase translation. The language they use is also great—it’s not too hard or too easy to understand.

Although it doesn’t matter what translation of Bible you use, it is important to use one you can understand and apply to your life. If you love the NKJV, stick with that! If you have an easier time understanding the NLT version, use it! Neither is wrong or right—as long as you’re understanding it, use whichever version you feel most comfortable with.

2. Coloured highlighters.

As I read through a Bible passage, I like to highlight. I use three different highlighters. I colour-code as I go to make it easier to find verses by topic. Yellow is basically anything that is important or spoke to me, pink is anything to do with God’s promises to me, and blue is for verses about God’s love for me (SO important to remember!). Although there are several different kinds of highlighters for Bibles, my favourite are these gel ones. 😊

If I want to make notes in the margins of my Bible, I use a pencil (I have commitment issues to using ink in my Bible…)

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3. A notebook.

I’m a journal-er. If I’m not writing down notes, verses that stuck out to me, or general thoughts, I feel like nothing I studied has really sunk in. Writing down what I’ve learned is a great way for me to reflect on the passage. In my notebook, I write down:

  • the date
  • what Scripture I’m studying
  • verses that stood out to me and why
  • prayer requests/notes
  • any other thoughts

Now, I do want to say this…journalling is not for everyone. Writing stuff down may not work for some people, and that’s okay! If having a prayer journal or notebook doesn’t help you retain God’s Word, don’t pressure yourself to do it. Bible study is about learning God’s Word and applying it to your life, not doing what everyone else seems to be doing.

4. Coloured pens.

Because I like to journal as I study the Word, I like to have pretty pens. I bought a package of multi-coloured Sharpie pens, and I love using them! I use different colours for headings, dates, and passages as I journal. Of course, plain ink works just as well. For a couple years I only used pencil, and the quality of my quiet time didn’t suffer at all. 😊

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5. My phone.

I know, I know…major distraction potential. But I can justify this. I promise.

I use my phone for a couple different things when I have my quiet time. The very first thing I do is put my phone on silent/do not disturb, and I place it face-down. This means that I won’t even be tempted to check what my friend just texted me, or who just commented on my Instagram photo. When I can’t see or hear my phone going off, I can focus on God. Satan will use every distraction to pull us from time in the Word, and I try to prevent that as much as possible.

Then I use my phone for two things: worship and study. I play worship music (softly!) on my phone in the background as I have my quiet time. But I have to be a little careful with my music choices. I love music, and sometimes my favourite jams end up being more distracting. No, Emily, now is not the time for a private dance party. I made up a worship music playlist on my phone, packed full of Hillsong, Bethel, and Chris Tomlin.

I also use my phone for different Bible studies. Currently, I’m working through IF:Equip’s Joshua study. Sometimes I used She Reads Truth as well. I love both of these communities and the study resources they provide!

Part of following IF:Equip’s study is the journalling aspect of my quiet time as well. For each passage you study, they suggest you journal three questions: 1) What does this mean about God? 2) What does this mean about me? and 3) What does this mean about the world? These questions help me to take what I just learned and apply it to God, myself, and the world around me. I use these questions even when I’m not doing my scheduled Bible study; they apply to any passage, which I love!

If you’re not into journalling, I would still encourage you to check out IF:Equip! They also have brief video discussions for each study, as well as a question of the day and a comment/discussion forum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into my Bible study time!

How do you study the Bible? What’s your favourite way to learn God’s Word?

 

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Stress: Dealing with It in a God-Honouring Way

We all have stress in our lives. But how do we deal with it? And how do we deal with it in a way that honours God? Click here to read my top four ways to de-stress!

In today’s world, a lot is expected of teens and young adults. At a young age, we need to decide what kind of career we want, where we’ll go to college, where we’ll live, who we’ll marry…the list goes on and on. How is is possible to make all these decisions without some level of stress?!

The thing is, we millennials aren’t the only ones who are stressed. Stress doesn’t just go away once you turn 27. We’ll always have stressful things to deal with. The problem with stress is that it steals our joy. And stress is a dangerous mix of busyness + worry, which are both things God tells us not to entertain.

But how do we avoid stress? I mean, life happens. It’s pretty hard to avoid, unless you want to live your life hidden in a room (and I doubt many of us want that). Today, I’m going to share with you my top four ways of dealing with stress!

1. Tell God you’re not okay.

How many of us run to our phone and text our best friend when we find out that we failed a test for the first time? (Guilty!) The thing is, God should be the first one we go to when stuff happens. He created us, and He loves us. I can’t tell you the number of times (if I had to guess, it would probably be about a gazillion) that I’ve gone to God and said, “God, this really, really sucks. I don’t even know what to do or say.” God is with us in everything—and He’s never leaving. He created us, and He loves us. Why are we so hesitant to approach Him with our problems? I promise He’s big enough to handle it. And His grace is enough to get us through it. It’s been my experience that when I go to God with my issues + problems, He comforts me like no other. He knows my spirit like no other, and He knows exactly how to comfort me. I’m blown away by His love.

2. Have time to yourself.

I’m an introvert—very much so. This means that I need to be alone to recharge. I love people and being around my friends, but at some point my tank gets empty. And the only way to fill it back up is to spend some time by myself–whether that’s reading a book, working on a sewing project, or just doing my nails and listening to music. When I’m feeling stressed out, it always helps to have some me-time. Once I have more energy, it’s 10x easier to deal with whatever I’m facing!

3. Spend some time in the Word.

One of the things that helps me a LOT when I’m feeling overwhelmed is opening my Bible to the book of Psalms. Sometimes I find something that really speaks to my situation and God uses His Word to put me back into perspective. Other times, I’m just reminded of how great our God is and how He is so wonderfully in control.

4. Go for a hike.

Okay, so there aren’t that many places to hike in southwestern Ontario. It’s pretty flat down here. But going for a walk does wonders for a stressed soul. There’s something about doing something physically active and spending time in God’s creation that is a huge stress-reliever. When I walk around and take the time to see how incredible God is, I’m comforted that He can handle whatever it is I’m going through. Often, we drive by gorgeous autumn trees, new spring flowers, wide blue lakes, and towering mountains and we forget Who made them all. When I take the time to seek out and look at our Lord’s creation, I find myself wanting to praise Him all the more.

How do you deal with stress?

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