This afternoon, while the babies were napping and the husband was mowing the grass, I was putting laundry away, working on the dishes, doing some general tidying, and pondering this unexpected quiet time. At times I bulk at the many chores that come along with being a parent. I dislike that my days start before the sun, and don't finish until far after the babes go down for the night, and even then the babe still calls me throughout the night. But I'm glad we work hard, my husband and I. We're seldom idle, working each day, and we will, for years to come.
There is much to be said about the hard working life. The Proverbs 31 Wife, for one, is admired for the long hours she puts in each day,
She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her female servants.
She evaluates a field and buys it;
she plants a vineyard with her earnings.
She draws on her strength
and reveals that her arms are strong.
She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night"(Proverbs 31:15-18, HCSB).
I usually shy away from reading about the Proverbs 31 wife. I already struggle with feelings of insufficiency, with my imperfect housekeeping and mothering skills, why would I want to compare myself to her? Her description seems like something I could never measure up to. But maybe, by ignoring her, I'm missing out on some beautiful, encouraging, things as well.
For you see, I'm not the only wife who puts in long days, who sees to her family, even throughout the night. There's a light that stays on in our house, just like the Proverbs 31 Wife's lamp. We both work hard, as I'm sure you do as well.
The Proverbs 31 woman is admired for her diligence, not her perfection. She's admired for the good name she gives to her husband. For the encouragement and peace she brings into his life.
She's admired for the work she does with her hands.
Sure, I don't weave my own clothes like the Proverbs 31 woman, and while I do know how to sew, for the most part I'm happy buying my clothes at a nearby store.
Still, as wives and/or mothers we're taking care of our families. We're keeping them clothed, keeping food on the table, and loving them.
I'm sure the Proverbs 31 woman isn't perfect, none of us are. She probably does lose her patience with her children, fall behind on chores, and forget her grocery list at home sometimes. But the writer of Proverbs isn't interested in pointing out her faults. No, perhaps he views her more like Jesus views us. Sins already pardoned, true, inner beauty shinning through.
It's a comforting way to be viewed. An encouraging reminder that we don't have to meet the perfect standards of this world.
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.For the world looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart" (Proverbs 31:30, HCSB).
"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB).
God looks at our heart, and the softening work being done there. He knows our struggles, our temptations, the things we look at and can't understand how they'll ever come out right, and He understands. He knows all. He is all, and He's ready to be in control. He sees us as beautiful in His sight. May that be an encouraging thought for you as you go about your day.