Rethinking the Proverbs 31 Woman

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Since I was a little girl in Sunday school, the Proverbs 31 Woman was always taught as the ‘it’ girl — she is who I should be. She is who I need to be to honor God, or so I thought.

If you grew up in church or have ever heard of the Proverbs 31 Woman, you probably know what I mean. This woman David writes about in Proverbs is the epitome of a Godly woman, but her perfection does not stop with her faith.

This woman is the perfect everything. She is the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect follower of God.

We live in a world obsessed with perfection.

Stop and look around. Everywhere I turn, people around me are reaching for this unattainable quality in their grades, their bodies, their faces, their closet, their performance, their relationships, their jobs.

It is so tempting to make the Proverbs 31 Woman our poster child in 21st century Christian culture, where appearance equals everything.

The attributes of the Proverbs 31 Woman (Proverbs 31:10-31) are in fact what we should strive for as Christian women. These qualities are biblical, important and good. The issue is when we try to embody this perfect woman and as we inevitably fall short, guilt takes over.

We can never measure up to this woman, and I do not believe we are meant to.

Reading through the Bible, hearing stories of women God used in the Old and New Testament to advance His kingdom, and even listening to accounts of real-life, flawed women God used for His glory, I realized this woman is fictional.

Since the beginning of time, God has been using imperfect women from all walks of life in key roles to spread His word and love for mankind.

Take a look at Sarah — a good wife, but a woman who laughed at God’s promise to her. She did not trust God, yet He kept His promise to her and through her lineage, Christ was born.

Or look at Rahab, yet another woman who many people today would turn their noses up at. God chose her, a prostitute, to include in His story and help His people.

Looking at the New Testament, there are other examples of God using broken women. One of my favorites is the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan woman, for one, an ethnic enemy of the Jews. Not only so, but she was divorced five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. Yet Jesus saw her heart and gave her a calling to preach the Gospel to her community.

God wants us all.

No matter how broken, flawed or damaged we may feel, God sees beauty in our brokenness.

Maybe instead of obsessing over becoming the perfect woman of God, we should instead focus on our realness. We are messy. We are flawed.

But God’s power is greater than our weakness. God can use each and every one of us, whether we are stressed students, struggling graduates, newly engaged, new moms, missionaries, teachers, preachers, lawyers, doctors, journalists — He can breathe purpose into our messy lives to tell His story of love.

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