When God made me a woman, what did He intend for me to be? What part of His image do I reflect? What is my purpose? My worth? I have been reflecting on the ways in which my own mom shaped my world view and gave me the skills I still use today. I have contemplated how she is continually influencing who I am becoming. And, I have been asking the tough questions. Lord, how do I convey the value of womanhood to my daughters? Let them know of their great value to You? How do I help them see their role in Your world at this time in history? How do I build their strength to face whatever comes their way?
As I mull over all these things, my heart is drawn to the Proverbs. Written as a relational guidebook, Proverbs consists of wisdom from a father to a son about how to fear God, respect your parents, and find a good wife. For those of us whose chromosomes are XX, Proverbs 31:10-31 is a familiar passage of Scripture. As Christian women, we often see it as a standard of godly womanhood…and often a tall order we cannot possibly fulfill. But, a quick reading of the passage, or even a thoughtful memorization of it cannot provide the insight we need to understand its intent. For all its familiarity, I think we often miss its true meaning. Proverbs 31 was written as a Hebrew poem, and it is actually a representation of wisdom in female persona. In other words, all of the other advice given in the book of Proverbs is summarized in Proverbs 31—in female form.
Sometimes we read through what this chick does, and we think, yeah, right! I’m not everybody’s slave. I’m not burning the candle at both ends. I can’t be all those things. But, I think we have the wrong visual image of the woman being depicted. May I present you with the woman I used to see when I read Proverbs 31?
You guessed it. Cinderella. Before said prince sweeps her off her feet. This woman works her fingers to the bone and endures the harsh words of her mean sisters and stepmother. And, she does it all with the grandest work ethic and the sweetest disposition. All she needs to endure her life of servitude and mistreatment is an occasional song with a couple of adorable mice. She is the original super woman.
You can imagine my relief when I discovered that my imagery was all wrong. This is the woman I should have been picturing:
Where in the world did you get that idea, you may ask? None other than the original Hebrew, my sister! Let’s take a look at Proverbs 31:10, shall we? Now, I don’t know what Bible translations you’ve been reading, but all the ones I’ve ever seen look like this: “An excellent (noble, capable, virtuous) wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” Ok, I like jewels. I like the idea that I am worth a lot. And, being excellent, capable, and virtuous are all good things. But, did you know that the Hebrew word used here is “Chayil” and that it means strength and might? The same word, used in Judges 6:12 to refer to Gideon, is translated “mighty man of fearless courage” (AMP), “mighty man of valor” (KJV), “mighty hero” (NLT), and “valiant warrior” (NASB). What a far cry from our Cinderella-in-rags view of the Proverbs 31 woman!
There is an unmistakable military motif in Proverbs 31:10-31. This woman is a fighter! A scrapper! She is fearless and courageous. She is strong. She not only provides for her family, she fights battles on its behalf. She brings them the “rich plunder of a victorious army” all the days of her life (v. 11-12). This is an image I can get behind. It more accurately describes the fierce spirit God has put inside of me.
There is no doubt. You are a princess, sister. You are a daughter of the King. So, which kind of princess are YOU? Are you the princess-in-rags just waiting to be discovered, or have you gotten in touch with your inner warrior princess? Cause, girl, you’ve got work to do! And, the work you do matters in this world! The strength with which you fight your battles will be your legacy.
Happy Mother’s Day—to ALL God’s mighty women!
To the Warrior Queen:
Mom, how can I thank you for showing me how to be a strong woman? You are the original warrior princess. You always told me I could do anything, that I was capable. Then, you showed me how. Strength didn’t always mean getting your way. In fact, you most often showed your strength in your willingness to put others first, to love with a fierceness that never lets go. You have shown us all who we truly are by believing the best in us, even when we weren’t there yet. I love watching your faith grow, listening to the things God is teaching you, and walking through this journey together. I’d thank you for raising me if I thought your task was done, but I still call on you to be my mom, and you answer excellently. There is no substitute for your influence. I can only pray that I will honor your commitment to me with my life—may it always be a sweet reminder that the work you have done has consequence.
I am infinitely excited about sharing this next adventure with you as you “retire” to Austin. We will discover together what God has planned for you and for our whole family as He continues to reveal the “whole truth” to us. Fight on, mighty woman of valor!
To My Warrior Princesses:
Caroline, how I love watching you bloom into the little girl God has made you to be! Helping you with your writing assignment on the back porch last week will go down as one of my favorite moments in time with you. I loved seeing your excitement as we played with the gift of words, twisting them to bring more meaning and life to the story you had stored up in your imagination. I dream that someday we can share this love of writing—maybe even write together for God’s glory-- but most of all, I count on us sharing the love of each other’s company. I refuse to believe that ends at age 13. When you looked at me recently while I sang Mandisa’s “Only the World” with gusto and said, “Mom, you’re a cool mom,” you touched my soul. I can only pray that you will always think so.
You are a helpful, compassionate, and insightful kid. God has good things planned for you. May you always know that I am your fiercest advocate. I will fight for you. There are many things I wish you did not have to endure that you have already suffered. A younger, less-experienced me would have grieved over that forever. But, as un-motherly as it sounds, I do not wish for you to be sheltered from suffering. For, that would make you a weak woman. Instead, I wish for you to glean every ounce of wisdom from whatever you must endure, that you may be a mighty, mighty warrior princess for the kingdom! And, you will be! May God fill you with a deep sense of purpose and joy throughout your life. May God grant you the desire of your heart since you were four—that you would be able to hear God’s voice.
Mary Claire, what a delight you are! I caught a glimpse of your warrior spirit last week when you spontaneously decided you were ready to pierce your ears. When you get your mind set on something, you do it, girl! I saw your true beauty in your bravery as you sat with a big grin on your face and giggled nervously with the guns held steadily over both ears. After it was over and a few tears were shed, your crying turned into uproarious laughter. Your next words will never leave me: “Mom, when I do something that I thought wasn’t possible it feels so good.” Yes, it does, child! And, there is no limit to what you can do when your heart is turned toward Jesus! He has made you for a purpose, and I am going to love figuring that out with you.
You are constantly making me laugh, Mary Claire. Your love for bringing joy to others and for performing dramatically is evident. I can see you acting or singing someday. Whatever you do, you will do it with gusto. Don’t ever lose that sense that you are capable of the impossible. No matter what this life throws at you, fight! You will do big things for God someday. You are already big in our family and big in our hearts.
Audrey, I cannot wait to do “normal” things with you when I get there. I still hope God lets me raise you…in a perfect place. But, until then, I can’t help but think of Revelation 13:6 when I think of you. It says that the devil opens his mouth to blaspheme God’s name, his dwelling place (Heaven), and those who live in Heaven. That’s the God you see face-to-face, the place you live, and who you are, dear one! I wish I could just be your mommy here, but apparently my new role is to fight the enemy for your honor! There are many here, sweetheart, who do not know Jesus and who don’t believe in Heaven or know what it is like. I promise to fight until many more do. I hope it makes you proud.