What Proverbs 31 taught me about Womanhood
Biblical Womanhood from the perspective of a Christian, Slavic Therapist
Growing up in the church, I often heard about the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” I didn’t know what that meant and used that phrase as a catchphrase in conversations with other women.
I also did not think she was attainable because she sounded quite perfect.
It wasn’t until I reread the chapter recently that I realized just how important of a role model she would become in my walk with Christ.
You see, in this season in my life of being married, seeking the Lord, and growing my therapy practice, I realized just how important the characteristics she possessed, and how much these lack in our modern-day feminist-centered culture.
Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is not just a standard that EVERY Christian woman needs to strive for, she is a model of the kind of woman that honors the Lord with traits that represent Christ’s design for women and marriage, inside and out.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share with you. Just for reference, I am using the NASB version.
The Proverbs 31 woman:
Trusts her husband and he trusts her (Proverbs 31:11).
Do you trust your husband, and does he trust you? This is a touchy subject. What I have encountered as a therapist is that couples keep secrets from one another. The reason is personal but the underlying theme is the same. If there is no trust, there is no vulnerability or safety in the relationship. If that’s the case, the family cannot be united (on the parental level) and will ultimately not be able to withstand the trials that arise. Bottom line, without trust, there is no relationship.
Does good to him and not evil all the days of her life (31:12)
This means, no matter what happens between you and your husband (outside of abuse and infidelity), CHOOSE to do good to and for your husband even when you don’t feel like it. The reason why this particular verse is important is because there will be rough patches in our marriages and the only way to weather through the storms will be to stand together instead of sabotaging the relationship.
Works and invests her earnings, reaping the product (31:16, 31)
In my Slavic, Christian community, young girls are often told that when they grow up, they will get married and stay at home with their children. That’s where the story of self-worth and feminine value ends for many. It’s fascinating that scripture models a different example. While being a stay-at-home mother is a noble desire that every woman can have the option of, women should also have the opportunity to use their skills and gifts to create a business and work if they desire. As a woman who has my own business, I experience great value and fulfillment when I pour out onto others and have a chance to bless my husband with the finances that I earn.
She is strong physically and mentally (31:17)
Imagine if you will encountering a woman who makes her arms strong and girds herself with strength-what a sight, right? I wonder what the author of this verse had in mind when it was written. I realized first hand the importance of having a strong mind and body when I didn’t. You see, I got sick with COVID in January 2022 and was unable to move for a week. I was in pain and chose rest to recover. During that time, I realized just how valuable physical movement was. It was also during those two weeks in recovery that I realized just how much I craved to go back to the gym and engage in strength training and lifting weights. You see, neither of these ideas and practices are encouraged for women in my Slavic, Christian community. If anything, strong arms are discouraged because its “a mans duty to be strong,” and even more so, girding oneself with strength might be perceived as “stuck up” or worse.
She is not afraid (31:21)
Fear…this word is plastered on every screen and runs through every mind in our modern and “aware” world. Truth is, fear actually is another word for anxiety and we are surrounded by lots of that. Why? Because we want to be in control and when we can’t be, we are afraid of being powerless. The beauty of this character, the Proverbs 31 woman, is that we are told, she is not afraid, but she smiles at the future instead. Why? Because she knows WHO is already there. You see dear reader, we only fear when we forget who is in charge of our lives and that HE has EVERYTHING under control. When we remember that truth, we can finally let go of our desire to hold it all together.
She embodies strength and dignity (31:25)
If by now you haven’t picked up on this role model’s strength, I pray you do with this verse. You see, strength in Christ is what we are given when we become His children. Not only that, strength is all we have in moments of trials when the enemy wants to break us down. Even more so, in this particular verse, it’s also paired with dignity.
Dignity is defined as being worthy of honor and respect. Imagine this powerhouse of a figure that carries herself with so much honor and respect that a whole chapter of the Bible is written about her! I find it appalling because these characteristics are not spoken about in my community and that breaks my heart. If every Christian woman understood just who she was created to be in the sight of God, what would women be like? We wouldn’t be insecure, we wouldn’t struggle with body image, we would be fearless, confident, and feel worthy of representing Christ with the power he has given us when He adopted us into His family!
She is wise and instructs others (31:26)
Not only does this spectacular woman take care of herself, her husband, and her home, she also makes time to nurture others. This example is meaningful to me because I grew up longing for a mentor and God sent me many incredible women throughout all seasons of my life. Mentorship is crucial when it comes to succeeding spiritually, and Godly mentorship is even more important. You see dear reader, mentorship means that someone is there to call things out when you drift from Christ, mentorship is there when you need support and can’t fight battles alone. Mentorship is also there so older women can instruct younger women on how to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). Mentorship is there to help individuals navigate through the unknown with a guide instead of feeling scared and uncertain of what’s to come. This next example is vulnerable for me to share but for the sake of becoming strong and fearless like our role model above, I am willing to get out of my comfort zone.
When I was getting married, I remember feeling terrified at the thought of being intimate with my husband. A friend of mine who got married a year earlier shared some books and her personal experience with me that reduced my fear.
I hear about this same fear from other young women in my Slavic community. There is so much taboo and silence around topics such as menstruation, physical intimacy, pregnancy, childbirth, etc that young women go into these areas fearful instead of excited and anticipating a beautiful, new season of life.
It is now up to me, and other bold women to start these conversations and break down walls of silence and shame around these topics.
She is not lazy (31:27)
Once again, we are reminded just how much of a go-getter this woman is. We are also held accountable to her example by following it now that we are made aware. The social media’s depiction of women is that we are gossipers and sit at home doing nothing. I know that’s not the case for many women.
Based on my own life experiences, I have learned that it is when I have nothing to do and choose laziness, that I get in the most mental trouble. You see, it’s when we do not occupy ourselves with something good that the enemy gives us things to do. Those “things” can be scrolling aimlessly through social media to escape, drinking our loneliness and boredom away, or wallowing in our own insecurities as we see people looking more happy or better off than us.
Bottom line is, laziness takes us away from who we need to be and keeps us stuck in the current patterns that we might find ourselves resenting. The only thing we can do to change it is exactly that-COMMIT to choosing to DO instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change.
Her children and husband praise her and call her blessed (31:28)
Dear reader, imagine this image as you read and go on this journey of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman with me. Imagine those you love looking at you with pride and admiration, celebrating all the good you create around you and possess within you. What does that feel like? To me, receiving praise from those I love makes me only want to strive to be better for them. Even more so, I can only imagine how that translates into having the favor of God rest upon you as you seek His face in all you do. This, dear reader, is the greatest joy and fulfillment you can experience.
She fears the Lord instead of chasing external beauty and vanity (31:30)
As I wrap up this analysis of what it means to be a Godly woman, I can’t finish until we go back to the very beginning of what it means to be a believer in the first place, which is the fear of the Lord. It is not only the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) but also timeless in our faith over-focusing on our outward appearance which is fleeting.
As I read this chapter of Scripture, several final insights arise. The first is that God’s expectations for us women goes beyond cultural expectations. Taboo about particular roles and body image fall away when I realize just how marvelous this Proverbs 31 woman is. Not only do I want to continue to strive to be like her in my relationship with God, family and serving others, I want to do it fearlessly and faithfully without wondering what people say. Not once did the chapter mention that this woman strives to be a people pleaser, silent or fears shame, instead she seems to do the opposite and gets praised for it in the sight of God.
I hope this interpretation encourages your heart today. May you continue to seek the Lord and His understanding of scripture for yourself and apply these characteristics in your own life. Let me know how this interpretation touches you by sharing your insights with me!