An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is night and provides food for her household, portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Wow. What an impossible standard for us women, wives, and sisters! I have read this passage many many times. Before I was a wife and mother, I would read this passage with a romantic vision of the woman I wanted to be when I grew up. In my mind, I would picture a mother who could do it all, and have it all. My home would always be perfectly clean, a three course dinner would be served promptly at 5:30pm every night, laundry would magically be washed and folded and put away in the same day (imagine that!), and I would float around singing songs with my hair and makeup perfect, wearing a beautiful dress and a smile on my face…oh my. Somebody put on the brakes! It did not take long after getting married and having children, for me to realize how unrealistic this fairy tale was. I quickly learned that it takes an act of God for clean laundry to not sit in baskets for a week, putting on makeup just takes too much effort, and the only thing I can do effortlessly is burn dinner! Verse 18 is the only verse I can confidently say I excel at: “her lamp does not go out at night.” Can I please just have a night of 8 sweet hours of sleep, uninterrupted by a snoring husband or children who refuse to sleep through the night in their own beds! Can I get an amen! It’s a wonder why most of us are crazy!
But I don’t think that our loving and faithful father included this passage in His Scriptures, just to make all of us mothers and wives feel even more insecure and inadequate than we already do. We can read this passage with healthy eyes, looking at a painting crafted by God, to show us what a woman of faith looks like. To show us what standard we should reach towards. To show us that the absolute only way to honor God in our roles as wife and mother, is to first fear the Lord. When we tend to our relationship with Jesus and make it a priority in our lives, then we have the hope of honoring Him in our families.
A sweet mentor and friend of mine once told me, “You need to give yourself permission to not be perfect.” And I pass these words along to you…
Give yourself permission to not be perfect.
Give yourself permission for your floors to not be perfectly swept or vacuumed.
Give yourself permission to leave dirty dishes in the kitchen sink when you go to bed.
Give yourself permission to order a pizza and not cook dinner.
Give yourself permission to wait another day to shave your legs.
Give yourself permission to break the routine.
Give yourself permission to accept a compliment from somebody.
Give yourself permission to not be perfect!
Give yourself permission for your children to not be perfect!
Give yourself permission for your husband to not be perfect!
I see so many beautiful women who are imprisoned by their constant efforts to meet the expectations of others. They will not leave the house unless their hair, makeup, outfit is perfect. They would never dare to share their struggles with others. And every morning they look in the mirror and see their reflection defined by the words “not good enough!”
I am inviting you to be free. You are “enough” because you are a daughter of the King! Let’s proclaim the freedom we have in Jesus Christ, and watch the chains shackling our hands, feet, and hearts shatter before us!