Truth time: I struggle with my self image…daily. It’s actually pretty rare for me to look in the mirror or scroll through my recent pictures and like what I see.
Once upon a time however, I thought I was seriously hot stuff. High school, college, I couldn’t take enough selfies. I walked around with my shoulders back, chest out, strutting around like a brave peacock. Nowadays, I’ve noticed in photos that I have a slumped posture, my arms are usually crossed and closed off, and my smile looks almost forced.
So what gives? When did I go from viewing myself as a total rockstar to suddenly seeing a reflection in the mirror that makes me feel…blah?
To be honest, I think a lot of it has to do with how much I’m caught up in social media. I couldn’t even tell you how many times a day I check Facebook, Instagram, and the newly addictive Snapchat. I follow friends, fellow bloggers, celebrities; my social media knows no bounds. It’s no wonder I find myself in a constant state of subconscious comparison.
So this got me thinking, what kind of crazy measuring stick am I using to determine what is beautiful?
When I find myself struggling in a particular area of my life, there is only thing I know to do, and that’s to open up the Word and see what God speaks over that area – to find the truth that the Lord has written. In this case, I went to the most obvious of places: Proverbs 31.
Whether you are well rehearsed in the Bible or not, chances are you’ve heard something about a Proverbs 31 woman. This incredible reference of what it means to be a woman of God. Did you know that out of all the 22 verses, not one talks about her physical appearance? Not a single one.
Just for kicks, let’s break down what a Proverbs 31 woman is really about.
1. She is a faithful wife.
It mentions in versus 11 and 12 that she does her husband good, not harm – that he trusts in her. When I read this, I interpret it as meaning that this woman is constant, she is unwavering, and undeniably faithful. She works with her husband, not against him. Her and her spouse are a team. And when you’re on a team, you have to trust the people on your side; that’s what makes it successful. Long story short, she’s supportive. She isn’t seeking attention elsewhere, and she’s no damsel in distress. She lifts her husband up. She is his partner.
2. She is a hard worker.
If there is one obvious theme on what a Proverbs 31 women is, it’s that she is a hard worker! This broad is up before the sun, she is a merchant, a farmer, a seamstress, and a manufacturer. She isn’t lounging around watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ reruns all day (#guilty). She’s up early and making a difference – literally making the most of her day.
One of my favorite verses says, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…” I love it, because it is the verse that I taped inside of my breast pump backpack. Seriously. If you read about my breastfeeding struggles with our oldest son, Noah, (found here) then you know I needed some intense encouragement to pull myself out of bed at 4:00am while everyone was still sleeping. It made me feel empowered, and for lack of better words, badass to know that I was doing whatever it took to provide for my family.
3. She is smart.
Verse 16 says, “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Then in verse 18, “She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.” She is a smart business woman. She takes the time to think about her decisions and then follows them through. She is able to be apart of a team and yet still make incredible changes and business ventures.
She is also amazingly wise. She speaks with kindness and wisdom; she isn’t flapping her jaw and gossiping. She is encouraging and kind. And trust me, it takes wisdom to know when to bite your tongue.
4. She is compassionate.
She cares not only for her family, but for others. Verse 20 says, “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” In other words, she cares about her community. She lends a hand to those who need her help. She doesn’t just make a difference in her own home, but in others.
5. She is a loving mom.
I don’t know about you, but a woman who makes bed coverings and whose family is clothed in scarlet, sounds like a pretty loving mom to me. In my opinion, nothing defines love better than by putting someone else before yourself. When I read Proverbs 31, I get an image in my head of a woman whose home feels like a giant hug, and whose arms you want to snuggle in to. I see a woman who radiates peace, comfort, and support…she is also one hardcore mama bear.
6. She is rooted in the Lord.
Do you want to know why I think this chick is such a rockstar? Because everything she does, she does it to glorify God! I’ve noticed that when my life gets off track and I stop making time for the Lord, and I stop getting in the Word daily, and my prayers turn in to a to do list rather than a conversation, things get out of whack. I stop seeking God’s direction and start following my own. (Side note: Which is pretty cool that God gave us the option. He created us with free will to make our own decisions.) When I start following my own plan without being rooted in Christ, it just doesn’t work. Sure some areas may flourish, and some days are seemingly fine, but there is always something just a little off.
There is absolutely no way this woman in Proverbs 31 could accomplish all she does, AND still have her husband and children “rise up and call her blessed” without being HEAVILY rooted in the Lord. (Can I get an, Amen?!)
So what does a Proverbs 31 woman look like? Funny you should ask…keep reading.
Over the past week there have been two women who have specifically stood out to me. Neither of them I know well – in fact, I’ve only met one of the two. The first woman lives hundreds of miles away, and I’ve met only once. When our paths crossed, I was instantly drawn to her. She wasn’t loud, overly talkative, or over the top in her appearance – but there was something so incredibly captivating about her. She had this gentle and quiet confidence, this smile that was warm and welcoming. Our exchange was brief, but impressionable. Since meeting her, I keep up with her and her growing family on Facebook, and every time I see pictures, her husband is just swooning over her. She still is wearing this contagious smile, and isn’t defined by her mother-of-three post baby bod. She radiates joy! I always think to myself, “That is a woman of God, and I want to be just like her.”
The second woman is a woman who sings at my church. Her and her husband are both on the worship team, and are fairly well-known. If you passed her on the street, you probably wouldn’t take a second glance, but when she stands on the stage to lead our church in worship, I can’t take my eyes off her. She, like the first woman, beams with confidence and joy. Her love for Christ seriously radiates from her that the feeling is almost tangible.
What’s interesting, is I don’t notice their hair, makeup, or clothes. I don’t compare body shapes or success – I just see women on fire for the Lord. And it’s amazingly beautiful.
To be honest, that’s the kind beauty I want my kids to see. That’s the kind of beauty I want to captivate my husband with. That’s the kind of beauty that I want to be – a woman of noble character who is so heavily rooted in Christ that you can’t help but notice.
So, I’ll ask again, how do you define beauty?
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