The Proverbs 31 woman is amazing isn’t she? This gal does it all, has it all, makes it all, and IS it all! She is the wise, ambitious, strong, organized woman of God who loves her man, children, and servants. She honors, adores, and guards them and meets their every need- even if she has to get on a ship to get the goods. She puts them first, but also cares for the poor, the needy and even the local merchants. She has time to dabble in real estate, plant vineyards, make fine tapestry, and even workout!
Oh, and one more thing:
She seeks wool and flax, and willing works with her hands.
How often we overlook that one…
We all want to be worth “far more than rubies” like her, don’t we? I mean, I want to plant a vineyard! I love grapevines. I want my husband to safely trust me, to lack nothing and to be popular. I believe charm is deceitful and beauty is passing; I fear the Lord; I want to be praised!
I’d love for my children to rise up and call me blessed one day…
Maybe what I’m missing is wool and flax, ‘cuz I’m certainly willing to work with my hands! I think most of us are, after all we are managing our homes, careers, finances, ministries and children’s multiple activities. We are not sitting around eating Bon-Bons! Do we honestly have to go back to using the distaff and spindle in order to keep up with this ancient woman, though? I mean, she had servants, we have appliances; doesn’t that level the playing field? I think we can overlook verse 13… and a few others for that matter…
Except that God’s Word is alive and applicable to our lives today.
After a bit of research, I am beginning to understand.
- Wool and flax (which is where we get linen by the way) are still two valuable commodities in our world today. . Each of them is valued for many reasons, including their ability to wick away moisture and resist fire. Linen is especially beneficial in the heat, and wool in the cold. These fabrics have a molecular memory, which makes them far more resilient than their synthetic counter parts.
- Flax is a simple plant, which also produces seed, oil and grain. It’s not terrible to look at, but it is terribly troublesome to work with; so is wool. You may find sheep to be adorable when they are young, but surely you don’t think the same of the aged ones you find in the field, rolling in the dirt and dung. Neither product appears valuable to start with.
- After breeding/planting, growing and harvesting the wool and the flax there is a lot to be done before you can start making it into anything. Wool must be picked through, cleansed, combed, pulled and spun. Flax must be retted and left to dry, then broken, beaten, hackled and scotched before it can even be cleansed, straightened and softened. After all that work there are many options as to what you can do with the yarn and linen.
Perhaps the wise author of Proverbs was tucking away a very powerful secret of success here? Maybe the reason he wants to give this woman “the fruit of our hands and let her own works to praise her in the gates” is because she didn’t consider her job done after the harvest, like so many of us do – especially when it comes to our closest relationships.
We take the time and make the effort in breeding, feeding, guiding and maybe even sheering, but too often we stop there,
disappointed in the relationship we have grown and we never even start to bring it to the next level of cleansing, straightening and softening. We get disgusted with the things that have muddied and matted our husbands, friends, children, or even ourselves and we forget that deep inside there is great value.
Good relationships take work and they take vulnerability. If we want to form those we love into what we believe they could be, we must be safe for them to be vulnerable around. And we must, with love and patience, understand that their dirty, difficult exterior is not all there is to them. That takes someone amazing.
That’s what our Good Shepherd did for us, and He gives us strength to do the same for those we love.
Catrina Welch is an image- and life-coach whose message is not as much “what not to wear” as it is, “Know Who You Are,” which is the title of her book of guidelines for your personal image identity. Catrina has also written a Bible study to help women overcome their image issues. It is titled Supreme MakeOver: a Rich and Refreshing Devotional Experience. Her other books include Footprints Through the Sand: a Consolidation of Life-altering stories about Loving and Loosing a Trisomy-18 Baby and Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You with the Images in Your Mirror and Your Soul, which will be available soon.