Intro 1 "That Too Perfect Proverbs 31 Woman!"
“The words of King Lemuel, the oracle
which his mother taught him”
Let me begin by saying that the “Proverbs Woman” is entirely fictitious and this woman does not exist, but of course you knew that. Nevertheless, I felt it was important that we all agree that she’s simply not real. The reason we need to agree is also simple. It’s because this “woman” was my hero and I wanted to be just like her—so much so, that I patterned my life after her. Then I foolishly used her as a measuring stick to determine how well I was doing as a wife, mother and homemaker. And if I had to guess, you’ve been struggling with competing with this mythical character too.
So, I don’t know about you, but this woman has haunted me long enough. All my life, especially my married life, I desperately struggled and clawed through my days to be just like her so I would be “good enough” and “righteous enough” and “pleasing enough” to God.
What I found out only a few years ago was that this is not God’s measuring stick for women; instead, Proverbs 31 were guidelines that a mother used to instruct her son when choosing a wife—a wife who would be his queen. So it’s fine to encourage our sons to look for such a wife, knowing even more now than it was then, that this is a woman who is almost impossible to find, a rare and costly jewel. Thankfully, nothing is impossible with God, and as mothers we can trust He will bring the perfect helpmeet for our sons, as long as we are putting our trust in Him.
In this chapter it is my hope that you will understand the truth regarding the Proverbs Woman not being real. I hope it has already lifted a heavy burden and weight off of you, just as it did me, so that you will no longer try to be like her. Since now I am free from this burden, it has allowed me the freedom and ease of simply allowing Him to make me over. Though I still do, and will always desire to be well-pleasing to my God, and also my Lord, who is now my Husband, I no longer will believe the lie that I need to measure up. Instead, by living drenched in His love, for more than a year now, I know that there is nothing, not-one-thing, I need to do to please Him—as long as He has my entire heart, that’s all He wants. Isn’t that delicious?
Now, because of this newfound understanding, everything that I do springs from that love. There is no effort, and no disappointment on my part because, as I said, I know I don’t have to measure up! Freedom at last: Freedom to love others and freedom to enjoy living my abundant life!
Forgive me, I just couldn’t go on with this chapter without first stating this foundational point again: Your Beloved is crazy about you, just the way you are. It may sound impossible, unreal, and too good to be true, but just remember this, “while we were yet sinners . . .” that’s when He died, laid down His life, for you and me. We did nothing, it was “while we were sinners.” He didn’t lay His life down once we repented or even tried to be good. That’s the point. It was when we were rotten, bad, and had no desire for Him at all that He showed His love for us—stretching His arms wide—those same arms He longs to embrace us with throughout eternity. So stop and take a moment and really ponder that truth for a while. There is no greater truth that exists.
Alas, it now seems a bit hard to just jump into what this chapter is all about when you’ve just peered so deeply into the depths of your soul, but another truth that’s freeing is this: Everything that involves us matters to our Lover—everything—even the mundane. So let’s turn our attention to a mundane topic, the state of our homes, and how we can enjoy creating a haven for us, our family and our friends. How to simply be the kind of bride our Husband wants us to be, a Husband who wants us feeling free of worry or burdens and inexplicably happy. A bride who feels fulfilled and accomplished—something that women today find impossible to obtain though striving for it daily. That’s because most women have accepted the lie that by emulating a man and copying what makes a man feel fulfilled will make us, as women, fulfilled. All the while the truth in Proverbs, and throughout the Bible, God has beautifully explained how He created us, different and unique, not at all like a man. “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). So let’s focus on what does matter to us as women, where we live and read this passage:
“She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).
This verse, which is also part of that Proverbs 31 Woman, is something that I always thought I had at least covered, because . . . I was simply never idle. So I felt like I must have both parts covered, I took care of it well because I was not idle. Not so. These are two separate areas that we can use to seek God’s help with by asking Him to transform us in this one area of our lives.
Again, there is nothing we can do in ourselves, remember He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but with God, He promises nothing is impossible “. . . but with God all things are possible” (Matthew19:26).
So why not, using His strength, wisdom and anointing, ask Him to help us to accomplish the task of looking well to running our homes, with the desire of creating a haven for our family, our friends and for us to live as His bride? Again, if we try to do it within our own wisdom or strength or even timing, our efforts are nothing but futile and worthless. No amount of organizational books or plan of ours will work. Yes, books or articles or television shows are fine to gain knowledge, but only He can fulfill this (or any) aspect of our lives. Simply discuss this and anything with Him, so that He can make it happen—effort free.
While I was flying home from Asia (I mentioned in my first book Finding the Abundant Life, I continue to travel for our church through our television ministry), I found I had so much time to think and talk to the Lord about lots of things. One thing that came to mind on this flight was a deep desire that I had to do “spring cleaning.” Confession, I have never really done spring cleaning before in my life, and for some reason I simply wanted to have my house just deep-cleaned and de-cluttered, including and especially the closets and drawers and cupboards. There is something so freeing about having a home that is free from everything that you don’t need and/or don’t use. It is like a huge weight has been lifted from you and your life. Maybe it was due to something someone had recently said about Erin’s Workers@Home book that I’ve loved and followed for years. Or possibly it was due to something He had up ahead for me (and my family) and the spring cleaning and/or de-cluttering would be the first step.
Regardless of the real reason, I knew since I had been traveling so extensively over the prior year, my home really needed some deep attention. But there is one very important lesson I have learned this past year too, and that is I can do nothing at all in myself. Nothing. Prior to this year I put a lot of “me” in everything I did with just a little “sugar coating” from the Lord. But when you are put in a position of being thrust suddenly into become a single mom of big family, plus adding another teenager, then a special needs older sister who requires lots of your attention, then on top of it all, you’re sent off to travel around the world half of the time, well, then you find that you are forced to rely on the Lord one-hundred percent, or you simply will go under. That’s what He knew I needed to learn—to fully and completely rely on Him—to actually rest in Him even when there was so much to do that you felt that you would never make it or you were about to drop down dead from exhaustion.
So, while flying, I simply told the Lord that I would love to do “spring cleaning,” then simply surrendered it to Him, not once, but each and every time I thought of it. And think of it I did. When I got back home after being gone for almost a month, my home needed my attention, though everything was amazingly clean, even to any unannounced visitor. I thanked Him profusely for the confirmation that as a mother, I hadn’t neglected training my children. Yet, I was still determined to let Him do the impossible and provide the time and His plan for a deep-cleaning, if of course, that was His plan. Knowing again that whatever I could try to do, rather than waiting for Him, would be a tiny fraction of what He would—in His timing do—I allowed Him to fulfill the desires of my heart. So I waited to be swept into His plan and His flow.
Then suddenly, I saw it start to happen.
You know ladies, this is the way the Lord works—He wants us to wait, then suddenly He moves. It is kind of like children who have growth spurts. This is His way and we need to know and understand how He works, so that we can stop fretting when we don’t see anything happening: promises fulfilled happen in spurts after we’ve waited.
Right now I can’t remember what room it started with; oh, I know now, it was my girls’ room. I’d blessed them with new comforters, sheets, curtains, etc. after their cousin (my niece) left to go back home after living with us for a year. They were once again sharing a room and deserved to be blessed for showing such love to their cousin. God even gave me a head start because while I was gone: one of my children moved out of another room and actually folded their clothes neatly in their drawers. That’s when I felt this surge of excitement and energy to make up my four containers and big labels to begin sorting what was in those drawers! Yes, I too purchased Erin’s Workers@Home book and am led periodically to follow it as I said. Right then and there, God had put an anointing on or in me, coupled with the knowledge and wisdom that I had gained from this book and from watching all those organizational shows. We were off.
First, I sought the Lord for where those large containers were: buckets, baskets, and bags. Here’s the thing, at that moment I could have taken over: me, my ideas—my flesh or me trying to follow the book, but I wanted to remain tapped into His anointing so I would be able to give all the “glory to God.” And more importantly, end up with the kind of results that makes you want to dance and shout!
Immediately God led me through the house and in the garage, collecting what I needed. I labeled the large sheets of paper: #1 throw away, #2 give away, #3 put away, and #4 store away. In both the #1 and #2 container, I put a large black trash bag to make it easy to move #1 to the trash and #2 to trunk of my car. (If you haven’t read Erin’s book Workers@Home bear with me or better yet get one; as what I say will make more sense as we go). These containers I lined up 1–4 and explained to my daughters that this is the method to clean any room, any drawer, any closet, or any car—anything.
So our goal, I explained, was to remove every thing from “wherever” they felt led to work: in a drawer, the closet or under the bed, and then ask the Lord, should it be:
#1 thrown away (is it damaged and not worthy to be given to someone?), or
#2 given away (you no longer use it or need it or have outgrown it?), or
#3 put away (it doesn’t belong in your room; it doesn’t belong to you), or
#4 store away (it goes back in that dresser, or closet that you just cleared out; just not under the bed).
I told my girls that their goal was to try to put as much as they could in #1, then #2 and so on, so that #4 was left with only what God wanted them to keep—the rest, let go of.
To help my daughters I felt led to stop to have something to eat, when He began to speak through me foundational wisdom that I’ll share in the next chapter.
Author of RMI's Abundant Life Series
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