About two years ago, I was in the throes of what I can honestly describe as depression. I am willing to admit that I made a mistake in not speaking up and asking for help and seeking psychological counseling. I was a young mom living halfway across the country from family, and I was piling on the blame for feeling exhausted and emotional, for not being strong enough to handle running our household and raising our son. I convinced myself that I was nothing but a failure who would never be a Proverbs 31 Woman that I somehow had been convinced was a commandment from God. Too often I find that our culture has caused us to have the ultimate case of self-doubt and a spirit of comparison to the woman described in that passage. I certainly did.
By the grace of God, I was given support and tools to lift out of that fog. My sister-in-law had just finished reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evens and recommended it to me. It also happened to be on sale for $0.99 for the e-book. How could I ignore that opportunity? I won’t go into detail about the book because it is complicated and mildly controversial to some, but I recommended looking it up for yourself. I found freedom in what she learned about Proverbs 31.
The author reached out to several women and men of many different Christian denominations and Judaism. Upon receiving a letter from a rabbi’s wife from Jerusalem, she learned that the Proverbs 31 text we are all so familiar with is a poem that is taught to young jewish men as a prayer for the Sabbath dinner. He is to recite it as a blessing over his wife, proclaiming to his family and guests that this woman is brave and honorable because she loves the Lord. It is not a list of to-do’s or traits to look for in a future partner.
It’s a blessing. A prayer. An honor. A declaration.
I read this over and over, and wept at the thought that I didn’t HAVE to do anything! I was instantly reminded that Jesus already did it all. I am worthy because HE is worthy. I am saved because HE did all the work. I am honorable because HE honored the father with his life and sacrifice. I am those things, a wise woman, a strong worker, a tender wife, a compassionate mother, because God made it so. So why was I letting the world, even our own Western Christian world, convince me that I wasn’t?!
I remember texting my husband and thanking him for all the times he held me when I cried over a messy apartment. I thanked him because he always reminded me that my job wasn’t to be perfect, but to love our family and God, and that was enough. From that point on, I stopped trying to meet a list of self-imposed demands and I stopped listening to that spirit of comparison and condemnation to embrace the freedom I knew I had in Christ to enjoy the life I had.
So the next time you feel less than all of those things, speak boldly against that and proclaim with certainty WHO YOU ARE.
In Bravery and Honor,
See her posts here: https://herroar.com/author/clhowley/