The Great Debunk
Tea for two and a dream come true can soon become hot dogs for five and the will to survive. Imagine a cartoon of a bedraggled mother with four or five children hanging on her. The words of Proverbs 31:28 grace the top of the cartoon. “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed . . . .” Sprawled across the bottom are these words. “My children just rise up and call me.”
Who is this Proverbs woman anyway, the original Superwoman? And what on earth does “rise up and call her blessed” mean? When she pulls on the toes of her children for the third time to get them up for school, do they bounce out of bed and say, “Bless you, Mom.”
The NIV note for this verse says the person who is blessed is “one who enjoys happy circumstances and from whom joy radiates to others.” The woman in this cartoon would probably like to try a few happy circumstances on for size. And the last time she radiated anything was probably when she sat too long in the hot sun at two of her kid’s back-to-back baseball games.
The same verse also says the Proverbs woman is praised by her husband. Then he goes on to tell her she excels all other women. Women, before we all collapse in a heap of despair, I suggest we join together and debunk the Superwoman Myth. When I first read Proverbs 31, I decided I may as well take a slow train to nowhere. I knew firsthand there was no way I could do all those things. Finally, I faced the big question head-on.
Does God expect me to do the things this woman does in order to be a successful wife and mother? Am I really supposed:
*to bring good to my husband all the days of my life? (Is that really possible?)
*to work with wool and flax with eager hands? (I’m allergic to wool and I don’t know where to find flax, whatever that is.)
*to shop far and wide for food? (I do well to make it to one grocery store, not to mention what it would cost for me to shop far and wide.)
*to get up before daylight and cook food for the whole family? (You cannot be serious.)
*to dole out portions for the servant girls? (Who’s doling out the servant girls?)
*to dabble in real estate? (I hear the exam is really tough.)
*to plant a vineyard? (Talk about a full time, slow return, long-term job.)
*to build up my muscles so I can work vigorously? (I would have to lift weights to build up my muscles, and then I’d be too tired to do anything else.)
*to work part time for profit? (How do I do that if I’m already working full time for free?)
*to leave the light on all night for whoever needs help? (What is this? Motel 6?)
*to spin thread with my fingers? (I thought that wheel thing was a decoration.)
*to embrace the poor and extend my hand to the needy? (And where do I get the extra hand?)
*to prepare my family with the best and warmest clothes? (On my budget?)
*to make all the bedspreads and to always be dressed in nice clothes? (Yea, right!)
*to send my husband off to take his seat with the guys? (You mean from the couch to the court?)
*to excel in the craft of elaborate embroidery to wear and to sell? (What if I’m not crafty?)
*to be a woman of strength and dignity who is optimistic about the future? (Looks good on paper. Tell me again just how I do that?)
*to speak with wisdom and faithfully home school all my children (Who? Me?)
*to watch over what everybody is doing all the time? (Pardon me, Lord, but isn’t that your job?)
*to never eat the bread of idleness? (Not even one hour to kick back and do nothing?)
No wonder this woman with her noble deeds surpasses all other women. Who could compete with her? Besides, think about it. These are the sayings of King Lemuel as taught by his mother. How many wives do you think the king had to accomplish all these tasks? And the queen mother? How would you like to have her (with her expectations) as your mother-in-law?
Verse 30 says. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.” That’s true. I tried the charm thing at my house, and nobody fell for that. The beauty part? I don’t know about you, but what little beauty I had has already fled.
Seriously, does a woman have to do all this to be a good wife and mother? They’re all good things, but all of these in one person, is that even possible? Or is this perhaps a composite picture of womanhood in biblical times? What then is a less than perfect wife and mother to do? The rest of verse 30 gives us the secret to success for wives and mothers—and by the way, for singles and men, as well. “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Hallelujah! It isn’t a matter of stepping into your closet and coming out Superwoman, is it? It’s a matter of stepping into the presence of God and coming out blessed.
How then, are we to fear the Lord? In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “The true expression of the Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness.” As we focus on God, His life is free to flow through us, making us more like Him. And then, as Oswald Chambers says, “. . . when we come in contact with things that create confusion and a flurry of activity, we find to our own amazement that we have the power to stay wonderfully poised even in the center of it all.”
Consider these ten suggestions to evaluate your walk with the Lord, as well as encourage you to grow in your faith. Perhaps your children will rise up and call you blessed and your husband will praise you. It could happen, you know.
1. To fear the Lord is to know Christ, in whom are hidden all wisdom and knowledge.
2. To fear the Lord is to give Him first place in your life.
3. To fear the Lord is to consider intimacy with Him your #1 goal and your greatest blessing.
4. To fear the Lord is to desire His will more than your own.
5. To fear the Lord is to keep short accounts with God concerning your sins.
6. To fear the Lord is to give up trying in your own strength to live your life for God.
7. To fear the Lord is to live moment-by-moment in the power of the Holy Spirit.
8. To fear the Lord is to invite Christ to live His life in and through you.
9. To fear the Lord is to use your God-given gifts to fulfill the potential of His will for you..
10. To fear the Lord is to position yourself to be blessed by Him, and then in turn to bless others.
Phew! Aren’t you relieved? Superwoman is debunked! The secret is simply to surrender ourselves to God’s goodness, grace, and guidance and then we will discover “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20