Your strength, your accomplishments, and your character surpass any woman I’ve ever known. No one can be compared with you. You care diligently for your husband, your household, your business, and the poor. You know how to sew and prepare food, plant a crop and instruct others in wisdom. Women who have encountered you are both inspired and intimidated by you.
Some of us attempt to become as much like you as we can. We may not plant a vineyard, but we will try our hand at planting a garden. Like you, we clothe our families in the best we can afford. We hunt for bargains. In our spare time, we do what we can to make extra money. Along with that, we are constantly learning. We talk with other women and read through books and blogs to find ways to improve ourselves. We are vigorous and persistent in our efforts to emulate you.
When I first heard about you, I aspired to become as much like you as possible. I knew that I couldn’t do everything you did because our lives were too different. For starters, you were married and at that time, I wasn’t. Our cultures were completely different. While you were learning to sew I was studying English and Math. Even so, I set out to do everything as well as I could.
For a while I satisfied my own ideal of a virtuous woman. I got married. Then I had kids.
Little by little, after becoming a mom, I began to slip farther from the standard you set. Volunteering was the first thing to go. With a child who was frequently sick, I was no longer reliable. After two more kids, I didn’t have enough energy to plant a garden. A couple of years later, I became physically ill and couldn’t even cook. For months people brought us meals. I was grateful for the help, but also devastated that I had lost so much momentum.
During that miserable time, I read about you in Proverbs 31 and was shocked to find that we were so different. You were respected. I was pitied. You got up early and worked vigorously. I could barely get out of bed. I had been taught that a woman should consider herself successful if she did one or two of the things you accomplished, but I could do none. I marveled at my own shortcomings.
When I was at my lowest, I brought my troubles to God, laying them out before him like an intricate mural broken to bits. He did not scold me but spoke gently to my spirit.
He asked me, “Why does the book of Proverbs exist?”
I said, “So that we can learn about earthly things.”
“And why do you need to know about earthly things?”
“So that we can understand heavenly things.” I learned that from Nicodemus (John 3).
“Then why do you need to know about the virtuous woman?” God persisted.
My response came easily, “To learn about the Bride of Christ.”
I knew instantly that everything I had read about you was meant to give me a deeper understanding and appreciation for you, as Christ’s Bride. How could I possibly compete with your accomplishments? You represent every person who has faith in Christ. That is why your “lamp does not go out at night (Prov. 31:18).” You are present in every corner of the world! While one sleeps, another is awake continuing the work God gave them. Together we fulfill every single verse of Proverbs 31. Each of us uses our gifts and talents for the glory of God, during the time He gives us.
You, O Bride, are a wonder. It was you who provided food for my family when I was sick. When I was a teenager, it was you who gave me a new family, when mine fell apart. It was you who taught me wisdom so that I could live for God. I will never again compare myself with you. But I will aim to do what you do: fix my eyes on Jesus, as I rest at his feet.
Forever your admirer,