She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
Have you ever watched competitive bodybuilding? Personally, I find it all a bit disconcerting. I can’t help but stare because some of those people look like mutants. Men and women posing and flexing with muscles bulging where I didn’t even know one had muscles. Men in those classic poses is what some people think of when they think of strength, but bodybuilding is less about strength and more about physique (appearance). So as we consider what it means to be a strong woman (Proverbs 31:17) we need to be thinking not about appearance, but power. Sure she dresses herself nicely and looks to be healthy, but she spends more of her time and energy cultivating strength in a number of different areas of life.
Here are 3 areas in which we are to be strong.
I have a treadmill and this year I am trying to be more serious about running. I hate every minute of it. I hate feeling out of breath, being sweaty, and having my face turn beet red. My running also seems to ignite drama with my kids, or it is during these times that the kids feel the need to ask me a hundred questions and want help in the bathroom. Like I said, I hate working out, but I also realize that this is the only body I have. It is frail and needs to be cared for. It is easy to ignore our physical health when we are in the trenches of parenthood, work, homeschooling, and home life. Sometimes we even excuse caring for our bodies claiming we are more focused on “the spiritual” stuff.
But consider this: your body was designed and created by God himself, and it is good. Sin, of course, marrs everything and causes us to grow older and more frail. It can leave us sick and riddled with pain. But what we have to remember is that it is through our bodies that we carry out God’s calling on our lives. So if we don’t care for our bodies we will have a much harder time carrying out the mission God has for us. We need to be good stewards of what God has given us and good examples to our children about how to care for ourselves.
As a woman living in a world where everything is tainted by sin we are guaranteed difficult days and seasons. I understand the emotional and mental toll a house full of little children can have on moms. I understand how demanding and tiring homeschooling can be, and I know how draining serious illness and even death can have on people. Life can be hard!
This is why we need to make sure we are mentally and emotionally strong. It does not do our families any good if we fly off the handle at every provocation or fall to pieces at the bumps in life.
In order to train our minds and get a grip on our emotions we need to follow Phil 4. and think upon things that are good, right, noble …. even in the midst of pain and hardship. We need to flee to the basics of the Christian faith, and set our minds on “the things above,” on Christ himself. God is always good, he is always kind, he is never cruel, he has a perfect plan, he is with us always.
This is the most important area in which we are to be strong, for this strength feeds every other area. We are nothing without Christ. We need him for every breath we take, every task we face, and for our ultimate salvation. It will keep us grounded in difficult times, it will make us brave in scary times and it will make us thankful and joyful at all times.
I’m not trying to make a hard distinction between our bodies, minds, and “spirituality.” It’s all spiritual. Here I’m talking more about the primary means of growing spiritually. To grow here we need to make God and his word a practical priority, seeing it as our lifeline. By his word we are sanctified, strengthened, and brought back to the truths we tend to forget.
I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with Proverbs 31. I love it because I get to see very specifically what kind of woman God wants me to be. On the other hand there are days that I struggle with proverbs 31 because my shortcoming jump out at me. I see how far I still have to go and this can be frustrating. The result of this should be that is has me flying to Jesus because only he can cover me with the righteousness that I need to stand perfect before God, only he can give me the fortitude I need to continue working hard and only he understands my frustrations.
Looking to Jesus,