I don’t know about you, but every time I read Proverbs 31, I feel tired. Maybe a little incredulous too (Seriously? This woman wakes up early, stays up late, weaves blankets, cooks, works outside the home, helps the needy, makes savvy business deals, wears a purple dress she made herself, and then probably posts it all on Pinterest? Who is this woman?).
Mostly, though, I just feel weary. And then I skip over to the next book in the Bible (Ecclesiastes) to remind myself that everything is meaningless anyway.
But I’m currently reading The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, and she has given me a new perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman.
Apparently this chapter was written as an acrostic poem, intended as an ode to honor women, not a bunch of to-dos. In Jewish culture, this wasn’t a checklist for women to strive for; instead, men praised women with the phrase “Eshet Chayil” (“Woman of Valor”), taken from the first line of the poem.
In other words, this depiction isn’t intended to describe one woman, and it certainly isn’t meant to capture a single day of her life. Rather, it’s a shout-out to all women.
So today I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of you women of valor out there. I see you, and I honor you.
You give of yourself—your talents, your time, your tears—and usually do it without getting much thanks. Eshet Chayil!
You wipe bottoms and blow noses and get up in the middle of the night. Eshet Chayil!
You work inside your home and outside your home, in your career and in your kitchen and in your relationships, and my guess is that you’re tired. Eshet Chayil!
You are fierce in your love, zealous in your protection, tenacious in your prayers. Eshet Chayil!
You hug well, you comfort well, you bring life and goodness and joy. Eshet Chayil!
You don’t know it, but you shine. So here’s to you, you Woman of Valor! Eshet Chayil!
P.S. A special Eshet Chayil to my mom, Cindy, who just celebrated her birthday. Mom, you showed me when to stand up for myself and when to stay on my knees. You showed me how to how to make homemade snickerdoodle cookies and when to rip open a box of Keeblers. You taught me that sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. You showed me how to follow through, how to clean an oven, how to knit a family together, how to giggle on waterslides, and how to fall in love with God’s Word. No woman fulfills the entire Proverbs 31 picture, but I have to say that you come pretty close. Happy Birthday, Mom of Valor!
This is very freeing, Stephanie. Thanks for this post! And beautiful words about your mom.
Stephanie Rische says
Thanks, Linda! I have such an awesome mom…it was fun to give her a shout-out. 🙂
Oh, I’m so relieved to have a new understanding of Proverbs 31. Thank you!
Stephanie Rische says
It’s freeing, isn’t it? Thanks for your note.
Sniff, sniff. So beautiful! Thanks for sharing!