The last two blog entries on vocation (Progressing In My Vocation and Unsticking My Vocation) have led to my thinking about the woman of Proverbs 31. She is, in the ideals of her time period, a very capable woman whose thrift and hard work make it possible for her husband to join the important elders of the community.
“There are so many ways!” you told me dejectedly. There need to be many, so that each soul can find its own in that wonderful variety. Bewildered? Make your choice once and for all: and the confusion will turn into certainty. (THE WAY #964)
At the time of Christ, we see the ideal Proverbs 31 woman in the virgin Mary. She gave her fiat, traveled great distances on foot and maybe donkey over rough terrain to serve her cousin in the last months of her pregnancy, traveled AGAIN by donkey and on foot 9 months pregnant, gave birth in a stable, fled with Joseph and the child to live as refugees in a foreign land, and served her little family in Nazareth all without complaint and making the best of whatever she was given to work with– how can ANYONE live up to such an example?
What might this woman look like today? This modern Mary, modern Proverbs 31 woman? My guess is she is still doing her best within a budget. She very likely holds down some sort of job or works from home while she cares for her young children. She may be home schooling. She may be buying clothing in thrift shops or merely planning her wardrobe (see the review of It’s So You) very carefully. She may be watching for sales so she can fill the pantry with quality food items at the best price. She is using her individual talents to the best of her ability. She serves her family with love. She isn’t me! Or is she?
How DO I become my own kind of Proverbs 31 woman? God gave me an interesting mix of interests and talents. I do use them. For me, the fields and crops of the Proverbs 31 woman are the stories I am writing. Using this particular skill of mine is essential to my becoming the Psalm 31 woman God intends for me to be.
Another woman may be good at sports– something I am not good with at all!– and know how to teach the physical skills and the moral lessons that can come through working as a team. So perhaps she is a coach, helping young persons to grow in virtue through sports.
Another woman may be a fabulous seamstress or quilter, and so may teach sewing classes so that her students learn the value of knowing how to do for themselves. She may enable creativity to blossom because she shares her ability to sew.
Another woman may be a piano teacher and play piano in Church. Her students also grow in virtue through the lessons learned in mastering a musical instrument. People are aided in their worship of God because of her sharing her skills.
We are ALL Proverbs 31 women when we use our gifts to the fullest. We give of those parts of ourselves God created so that we each HAVE something special to offer. We seek to turn our special abilities into whatever is needed for our families so that they thrive.
I hope we each recognize in our vocations our own unique paths to becoming our own kind of Proverbs 31 woman and pray the husbands of Proverbs 31 women see their value and praise them.
Dear Lord, thank You for the Proverbs 31 that teaches us to see ourselves as capable women whose efforts are important to the well being of our families. Please help each of us to recognize in ourselves the gifts we can use to become our own kinds of Proverbs 31 women. Amen.