the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Monday, May 7, 2012

That Woman: Part One

That esteemed woman. I hadn't known much about her personally, just hearsay. This distance has allowed me to judge her more easily. Oh, and judge her I have…as outdated, out of touch, and, at the heart of it, antagonistic to my idea of what it means to be a woman. Yet, I have compared myself to this woman I have barely known at times, usually to my detriment, which is probably also what has made me dislike her so. She has made me feel…correction, I have made me feel “less than” when I am mindful of her. Ignorance, after all, is often the breeding ground of ill feelings. Where there lacks truth there lacks freedom.  So, after all these years of being unfairly oppressed by (read: feeling ignorantly insecure about) this woman I have decided to meet her one on one.  How did I find her? That was the easy part; I have always known where she was. In my Bible she is on page 552 her description takes up the final chapter of the book of Proverbs.

Yep, that’s the woman. The Proverbs 31 Woman.

Surprised? I am. I didn’t know I had so many ill-feelings toward this woman until a few months back when I felt the nudge from the Spirit of God to study her. “Ewww” was basically the maturity of my first response back to God. I did not wish to box myself into some role within my vocation of motherhood by studying some antiquated woman.  Frankly, I know all I need to know about her and I wish to know no more. But thanks for the idea! Got anything else, God? I would really like to move on to something else. Well, in good, God-type fashion He would go nowhere else until I listened to that Word of His. So, with exemplary maturity I begrudgingly opened to the proverb and began reading.

Yes, yes, I had read the words of the proverb before.  But, in all my 30+ credit hours of Bible/Theology, never had I studied her. I only listened to others speak of this “proverbs 31 woman”, heard of a ministry with her namesake, maybe a book or  two, and I distinctly remember guys in college looking for her on campus with vomit-inducing piety. Piety is an honorable characteristic to possess no doubt, but this kind was vomitus, just trust me. The only girls on campus who fit this bill were the ones there to gain only marriage from college, who would follow these guys wherever in the world they went (without consideration), and had basically few, if any, needs of their own save existing to meet the needs of their husband.  This woman always had this 1950’s Americana feel me…and I esteemed her not.  

Once realized, I do try to hold my preconceptions loosely and hold onto the foundational understanding that God’s Truth is freeing. Therefore, if I am feeling bound up I am either incorrect in my assessment of said truth or I am resisting it because of my own stubbornness and sin. So, by this figuration, I conclude I have nothing to lose but my ignorance or my stubborn heart.  This foundational understanding usually gives me the gumption to jump in with trust.

I began by reading through once to get the overall feel again…it had been a while. I then created two main categories on a piece of notebook paper labeled “Is” and “Does” into which I fit most of the verses about this woman. It looks something like this:
Far more precious than jewels
Trusted by her husband
Like a ship of the merchant
Not afraid
Strength & dignity
Not idle
Good and not harm to her husband
Seeks wool and flax
Works with her hands
Awakens while it is dark to provide food
Considers a field and purchases it
Plants a vineyard
Dresses herself with strength
Makes her arms strong
Perceives if merchandise is profitable
Puts her hands on the distaff
Laughs at the time to come
Opens her hands to the poor
Makes bed coverings with fine linen
Makes garments and sells them
Opens her mouth with wisdom
Teaches kindness
Looks to the ways of her household

Wow, so I notice she does a lot of things! But based on the fact that she “works with willing hands” (v.13) she does not merely exist subserviently in her responsibilities but enjoys them. Equally notable, though she is hard at work providing and preparing she “laughs at the time to come” (v. 25) revealing her surprising lack of stress amongst it all. Okay, okay, I like these two qualities about her…a lot.

Under these two lists I wrote more about my initial reaction on this sheet of notebook paper:

“I actually notice many things that are already being done by me. I thought I would read this and it would be this far-reaching idyllic woman. But as I read I am not pressed upon in that way. I saw things I ready do, do not do at all, and things I want to grow in. But also that the quotidian tasks that fill my days are, in fact, holy. God took time to be sure so many of these tasks were put into a chapter in a timeless book of wisdom and, inasmuch, deserve consecration to God task by task, that He may fill them and guide me. That I may, less & less, dichotomize life into the hallowed & unhallowed. But that all of my life become one:
                                        The purchases and considerations I make


                                        Dressing my daughter


                                        Speaking kindly to my husband


                                        Strengthening my frame (exercise)


                                        Scrubbing le toilette [yes, I wrote le toilette…weird]


                                        Praying for my friends and neighbors


This is what I notice right off.”

There is something powerful about inviting the Spirit of the living God into your Scripture reading. He will reveal Himself. I was refreshed by the end of this first study of her.  Even the part in verse 15 where is states “she rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…” I was then waking 3-4 times a night to feed Elsa. I connected with this woman in many ways. I am not calling myself a “Proverbs 31 Woman”, but I am saying I related with some of these things as a hard-working mother of a newborn, meal-planning, cleaning my home, loving my husband, managing our resources. Not near perfection on any of them, but dare I say she may not have either? I am getting off track as I do not desire to assess her abilities, but I am expressing encouragement in finding the places I connected with her versus the many years I spent despising her. This was a necessary bridge to gap so I could gently begin to hear what the Lord was saying to me:

Hallowed. These things are hallowed. Even this woman did these things.

So when I clean, manage, love, plan, care, feed…I am in the presence of a Holy God. In a Holy place. For the ever-visioning dreamer I am this is profoundly settling. I want to do what matters. I really love to see the bigger picture (though when I do not see it, faithfulness must remain my posture).  As I work on a Vision for Motherhood I am warmed by this woman. Challenged by her as well, I will likely never do all the things she has done. But the things I do, they are sacrosanct as I offer them up.

That woman, she continues to live into her calling of wisdom (v. 26).

{this concludes part one…stay tuned!}


  1. Wonderfu!. How many people think Kimberly should write a book, raise your hand? No wait right a comment!

  2. Love this, Kimberly! I never really liked Prov 31 woman either, but maybe she's a cool lady after all :)