Have you ever read Proverbs 31? It’s that passage in the Bible that describes the ideal woman. She cooks, cleans, sews, runs a business, volunteers for charity, plans out the meals and housework, supports her husband and raises her children properly. She wears beautiful clothes but has an even more beautiful character. She exhibits strength and joy in all she does.
This passage brings to mind a toy my daughter has, called a shape-sorter. It’s a box with several different kinds of holes in the lid. It comes with plastic shapes, and the idea is to pop the plastic shapes through the matching holes. My daughter is forever trying to jam the circle shape into the star-shaped hole or the square shape into the circle-shaped hole. She pushes with all her might, but the shape just doesn’t fit.
What’s the correlation, you wonder? Well, when I first read this passage, I felt like one of my daughter’s misplaced shapes. Oh the pressure of trying to fit an ideal that seems so out of reach! Let me be completely transparent, okay? Here we go…
My husband can cook. In fact, he is an incredible cook. When he cooks, it’s like eating at a five-star restaurant. When I cook, you choke down what you can and then pray you survive. My husband can also mend clothing quite well (he learned how to sew in middle school). When I mend the clothes, you are guaranteed to get some blood spatters and part of a finger in the bargain. My husband also seems to notice when things need to be cleaned and when the laundry needs to be done. I whirl through the house like a tornado, oblivious to the chaos that I leave behind. My husband has infinite patience with the kids and with me. I have an extremely short fuse and tend to react to situations, rather than respond.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wimpy about my husband. He loves all those typically “manly” things, like wood-working and portaging. The garage is full of power tools and the attic is full of camping gear. His most prized possession, his canoe, is carefully chained in the backyard to a special stand that he and his dad built. He loves adventure—the crazier, the better.
I can’t compete with him. I gave up a wonderful career to become a housewife and a stay-at-home mom. I love my family deeply. But I miss work. I miss the constant flow of information, the mental stimulation, the challenge of meeting deadlines and doing something that fulfills me. I try really hard to do this domestic thing. I really do. But I often feel like a square peg in a round hole.
When my daughter has difficulty with her shape-sorter, she calls out to me in desperation. “Help! Help, Mommy! Please help!” she begs.
When you have difficulty fitting the mold, where do you turn for help?
God will never tell us to meet a certain standard and then leave us to flounder. I doubt that we are supposed to do all of the things the Proverbs 31 woman did to the letter (I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for a spinning wheel to make yarn for knitting). But I do believe that this passage holds the key to discovering how we can become the women that God designed us to be—taking into account that we come in all different shapes and sizes, each with a unique purpose.
As I delve deeper into this passage over the next few days, please feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences in the comment section of the blog. There is so much more to Proverbs 31 than meets the eye! I’d love for you to join me on this journey.