Last fall, I had the opportunity to meet frequently with a very popular and inspiring woman. Every week for 13 weeks, I got to know more of her. She is truly amazing. She has everything put together in her life and is beautiful inside and out. She is married and devoted to and adored by her husband. She has a tight bond with her kids and they are grateful for all the love, care, and support she gives them continually. She works to help provide for the needs of her family and still has the heart and energy to extend to the needy in her community. Her words are wise and she gives instructions lovingly. She is disciplined, diligent, and is a great steward with her time and she must be this way being a married, working mom, right? This woman…well, you probably DO know her. She’s none other than the Proverbs 31 woman. As much as I would’ve loved to have met her in person, I came to know her through an in-depth study of Proverbs 31 that was offered by the women’s ministry at my home church.
She sure is perfect, isn’t she? Although I knew I could not be like her 100%, I was still encouraged, ignited, and inspired to care, love, and live life like her. I would pray, read the Bible passage frequently, and go back to my study book for notes and reminders. I would look for real-life examples to model after and imitate. But, honestly, my efforts seemed fruitless most days, as I would be so far from having any of her traits or God-pleasing practices. More or less, a typical day for me would be something like this:
Beep! Beep! Beep! After the 4th time hitting the snooze button on my alarm, I get up in a frenzy and rush to each of my sons’ rooms to make sure they are awake. Being heavy sleepers, I resort to a nagging and obnoxious “It’s time to get up. Get up! You’re late! Get up!” And then, after I do a crazy round of loud instructing from one room to the next, I go back to my room to get ready without giving my husband a warm and loving morning greeting. I rush downstairs to feed the dogs and clean up the kitchen from the mess left from the night before. Once my boys and husband leave for school and work, I do a quick devotional and then plop myself down at my desk in front of my computer and start working away at my 8-5 home-based job. Eight hours later, my family comes home and I’m still working away. It’s 5:30 pm and nothing is prepared for dinner and we head out the door for a fast-food meal before completing the evening’s activities.
My daily routine bears no resemblance to the Proverbs 31 woman. The loving, caring, and God-centered working mom and wife who managed her time well was nowhere to be found in me. On days like this, feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and doubt take control of my mind and bring me straight into a dangerous comparison trap.
Look at Ms. So and So over there who works full time, cares for her own family at home, and still finds the time to prepare a meal for another family who is going through difficulties. And then there is Ms. Such and Such who is so loving and sweet to her husband despite her busy schedule and ministry commitments. Why can’t I be like these real-life Proverbs 31 women and get it right? Why is it easy for them to embody and naturally use these godly attributes?
These thoughts and questions are frequently on repeat in my mind and often lead me to a place of being discouraged with the belief that I will never progress or measure up. I thought I was taking proper steps by looking at exemplary and actual Proverbs 31 women around me to glean some insight and practical steps on how to change and improve. But, the constant comparing was unhealthy and foolish. I ended up being envious and put myself down rather than focusing and looking up at God for guidance in this pursuit of “Proverbs 31-Ness”…not a real word but you know what I mean.
I had read it time and again in the Bible that “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise,” 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV).
Scripture also says to “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others,” Galatians 6:4 (CEV).
But I was not applying these truths and the posture of my heart was all wrong. I wanted to be a Proverbs 31 woman for the wrong reasons: self-achievement and success. I wanted to be like the women who embodied her and join their ranks of being a Go To example. How awfully prideful and sinful was that? But God was so good and gracious. Before I could let the comparing, pride, and selfishness take me to spiritual regression and move far from Him, He reminded me about my purpose: to love, follow, and honor Him and His Son Jesus Christ, which meant…
1. Dying to self every day (Luke 9:23)
2. Giving Him the authority of my life (Psalm 22:28)
3. Daily choosing to love and glorify Him (1 Corinthians 6:20)
4. Holding negative thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
To become anything like the Proverbs 31 woman, I need to be a good and serious Christ-follower and not a self-achiever or an others imitator. I must live in awe and reverence to Him. I must break free from the comparison entrapment and seek first His kingdom and righteousness, so then all these things, which include being a Proverbs 31 woman, would be added to me.
By: Emily Mariano