Proverbs 31: making space for a man

After spending any short amount of time around Christian culture you will eventually hear about the Proverbs 31 woman.

Personally, I groan a little inside when this is the main text at a women’s ministry meeting. I ache when I hear a single guy say they want to be a “P31” wife. And I may even get a little nauseous when someone tries to compare a real person’s daily life to the woman in that text.

The Proverbs 31 woman works tirelessly day and night, has all kinds of record-setting skills, is oozing goodness- and everybody knows it. It’s kind of overwhelming to think of living like this, and my reaction to it unveils my cleverly hidden lazy nature.

Of course, I know that we can do all things through Christ, and that with God it’s (probably) possible to be as amazing as this woman described in Proverbs. But, this text is from the Old Testament. Which means that at some point in history, women were trying to be this awesome without the living God on the inside of them.

Ah, yes, yet another reason to be grateful to have been born on this side of the Resurrection.

If the Proverbs 31 woman were alive in the modern era, she would be the living embodiment of Pinterest, Martha Stewart magazine, and a female version of Dr. Phil all rolled into one.

As I read the list of amazing accomplishments of this woman, my lazy heart is struck by something. She works diligently, tirelessly, bravely for the sake of her husband and family. And yet, her faithfulness to her responsibilities also raises her in the estimation of those around her.

Her labor makes space for her husband to be the man he needs to be, and for her own value to be known.

There was a time that I shunned such a concept. In the days when I had babies on my hip and a husband who traveled for work, all I wanted was to be free from the weight of my labor.

I was overwhelmed and I resented it.

I wanted Mr. Fantastic to save me from the very thing God wanted to use to bring me closer to Him.

So I made him feel guilty for going to work. (Gah, that is so ugly in print.)

Then one day he looked at me and said, “I want you to send me to work, not make me feel horrible for leaving you.”

So I gritted my teeth and did just that. God met me in the exhaustion and the craziness, and made me into something new by His grace. He made me His own strong vessel.

Mr. Fantastic went off to work and as it turns out, God had a plan to teach him some things, too. After a few years of working too much, for too long, and coming to the end of his performance-driven self, my husband became something new, too. God made him His own gentle and mighty voice.

My labor made space for my husband to be who he needed to be. If I had dragged him home, we might both still be who we were, which would be a very sad thing indeed.

The only thing worse than forgetting who God says you are is never knowing who God made you to be.

In marriage, a diligent wife who faithfully carries what God has entrusted to her makes space for her husband to do God’s will, too.

And in the end, when her family rises up to bless her, that will make all the difference.