There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Yesterday we looked at the description of the “wife of noble character” described in a passage in Proverbs 31, and how it has been a cause of guilt on the part of many of today’s women.
I made the statement that (in my opinion) the “Proverbs 31 Woman” doesn’t exist, at least the kind of woman we think of when reading this passage – the woman who can burn the candle at both ends and in the middle (and probably makes her own candles), and raises perfect children, runs a lucrative business, gives to the poor, etc. And I pointed out that nowhere in the passage does it say that the woman does all in one day, but that all of us go through different seasons of life. Let’s take a look at some of those seasons.
Are you single? Then don’t feel guilty about not yet being a “wife of noble character.” Focus on your relationship with God – becoming a woman of noble character, so that if marriage is part of God’s plan for you, you’ll be more prepared to step into that role.
Are you newly married? You might focus on your home – refinishing furniture, painting, upholstering, and interior designing. Some women are very gifted at creating a beautiful environment.
If you’re not an HGTV woman, that’s okay, too! This may be a season for a job, putting your husband through school, or getting through school yourself. It is definitely time to focus on your new marriage and establishing a firm foundation of Christ for your home. (The husband may be the “head” of the home, but in my opinion the wife is the heart.)
Are you “with child”? Then this is NOT the season to be up before dawn, working hard and vigorously through the day, taking care of everyone else, and working on into the night! If you’re tired, get your feet up, take a nap, and don’t feel guilty about it! In taking care of yourself, you’re taking care of your child, and that’s a good thing.
If you have small children, you and your husband might pray about whether you should be a stay-at-home mom for a season. If that’s God’s plan, one income will be enough for the family. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking “enough” means a new car every year, going out to eat every other night, and an annual vacation to an exotic place. You are raising the next generation of citizens for the kingdom of God, and nothing is more important than that.
When the kids start school, you may be thinking about going back to a job, or even a career. If your family’s finances are sufficient, you may be led to volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. If the cause is your children’s school, so much the better! As a teacher, I taught children whose parents volunteered at the school, and I had students whose parents didn’t even show up for parent-teacher conferences. From my perspective, parental involvement makes a huge difference in how well the child does. If your child struggles, you may be in a season of working part-time or not at all, to be sure you’re available to help with homework and be in communication with the teachers. You may even be led to home school. (I am in awe of such parents.)
Whatever you choose, never underestimate how much physical, mental, and emotional energy it takes to be a good parent. Don’t be pressured into doing what the world defines as “important,” while your child suffers setbacks that could last for years.
Pay does not define the importance of a job!
When the children are grown and out of the house, it might be time to pursue other interests and passions, be more involved with your church, local ministries, and outreaches. You could even start your own business, do freelance work, or, if you can’t imagine your life without children, continue to volunteer in schools, Sunday school, or VBS.
But, [Write this down.] you can’t do it all. The world will tell you that you can, but even if you do manage to “do it all,” chances are “it all” will be done poorly. Better to do one or two things with excellence than doing everyone’s bidding and not satisfying anyone, least of all God.
Thirdly, if you find that you have fallen short, even within reasonable guidelines, NEWSFLASH! We’ve all fallen short! (Romans 3:23) There’s a remedy for that, and it’s called GRACE. Never hesitate to come to God for His grace when you need it. Proverbs 31 describes a worthy goal for wives, not a typical achievement, even for the most godly and capable of women.
A note to single moms: If you find that a full-time job is necessary to provide for your children, don’t take on the guilt of thinking that your children are suffering irreparable damage. If you love them, they know it. Pray for them. Pray with them. When you’re with them, give them your best, and trust God to fill in the gaps. Let them know that He is their Daddy.
Ladies, only God should tell you what to do with your life at any given season, confirming His leading through your husband, if you’re married. “Resist the devil,” (James 4:7) but resist the world, too. (Romans 12:2) That includes anything the devil and the world try to use against you, including Scripture. If Satan quoted Scripture out of context to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:6), it’s not inconceivable that he would use Proverbs 31 out of context to bring condemnation and depression to women who earnestly want to please the Lord. Don’t fall into the trap of comparison. With your unique blend of passions, abilities, experiences, and opportunities, you are one of a kind.
Prayer: LORD, thank You for grace. We know that without You we can do nothing, but with Your help, we can do more than we ever imagined. Keep us from setting impossible goals for ourselves based on the world’s perspective. Give us Your perspective – divine perspective, in Jesus’ name. Amen