Don’t Be Intimidated by the Lady Next Door
Editor’s Note: This is Part 7 in the Portrait of Eve series. To see the previous parts, view below.
Living for Others?
I wonder what they think of me – I’m late again. Maybe I just shouldn’t come back.
Oh look, she has a beautiful new dress and her husband just complimented her. I wish my husband noticed me.
She just seems to have it altogether and I can barely get out of bed in the morning.
All my friends are getting married and having children and I haven’t even had a first date yet. What’s wrong with me?
Isn’t it so tempting for us as women to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others? Tara Barthel in the Women’s Study:Living the Gospel in Relationships shares, “We claim, as Christians, to live for God’s glory because His love is the most important thing to us. But then our words and our actions reveal that we are actually living to impress others and gain their approval.”
I’m a product of a divorced family. When Father’s Day would roll around, I was so tempted to sleep in and miss church because it hurt that I didn’t have my dad around. I was worried that others would look down on me because while all the other kids got to go up to the front of the church with their dads, I was stuck sitting miserably in the pew feeling sorry for myself.
Let me tell you something, dear sister in Christ. People think about me a lot less than I think they do and they’re thinking too much about what I think about them to spend time thinking about how they think about me. (Yes, that’s a mouthful, but it’s true). Repeat that to yourself the next time you’re tempted to compare yourself to someone else. Thankfully, God got a hold of my heart, I was able to go to church with a smile on my face and joy in my heart because I belonged to my Dad in heaven who loved me perfectly.
I’m sure many of us have compared ourselves to the Proverbs 31 woman: My life looks nothing like that. I can’t even get all of my family around the table let alone in the house at the same time. It’s hard to get a compliment out of my husband. I’m not even married yet so nothing she does applies to me – thank God, I’m not there yet. I’ll never live up to her example. I’m such a failure.
Stop! You’re not a failure. Don’t believe those lies. The Devil wants nothing more than to undermine you, pricking away at your confidence, getting you to cave into your insecurities. When I was first married, I thought I was a failure because I didn’t know how to run a household. I thought everything had to be so perfect or my husband wouldn’t love me… or God wouldn’t love me. Oh how wrong I was!
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Because God loved us first, He enables us to love others. We can do nothing on our own to make ourselves more worthy candidates for salvation or more righteous after salvation.
So back to this lady in Proverbs 31. Now before you say I could never be like her, realize…
1) She is mentioned in the infallible Word of God for a reason – to teach us about righteous living and godly womanhood.
2) She is meant to inspire, not to set an impossible standard.
3) You can glean wisdom from her even if you’re not married or you don’t have children.
But even if what we do doesn’t change the love God has for us, the things we do demonstrate our grasp of the Gospel message and His love. We, as daughters of Eve, are called to be fruitful daughters of God. This is the first command God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden. Being fruitful is not merely a physical command, but an intellectual and spiritual one also. We are made in His image and we are called to imitate Him. The desire to work hard, to have nice things, and to take care of husband, home, and children is built into us because God is also a fruitful worker and caretaker.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
#1 The Lady Next Door is Noble and Virtuous
How many of you consider yourselves noble and virtuous? How many of you want to be? Being noble is not about having a high social standing, being wealthy, or even volunteering with as many different charities as possible. Being virtuous is not just about staying pure before marriage and remaining faithful during marriage. Some of the most noble women I know aren’t wealthy women, and some of the most virtuous women I know, real women of God, struggled with sexual purity before marriage.
Being noble is about doing what is right and true. Being virtuous is striving for godly excellence. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “This description of the virtuous woman is designed to show what wives the women should (be) and what wives the men should choose.”
He also asserts that a virtuous woman is…
1), “… a woman of strength , though the weaker vessel,” she is “made strong by wisdom and grace, and the fear of God.” It gives a whole new meaning to God’s power is made perfect in weakness. We as women have the power to give, nourish, and sustain life, and to raise up godly men and women.
2) “A virtuous woman is a woman of spirit, who has the command of her own spirit and knows how to manage other people’s, one that is pious and industrious, and a help meet for a man.” She is both rational and emotional. She treats others with respect. She works ethically. She serves as the “sustainer beside him,” her husband.
3) “A virtuous woman is a woman of resolution, who, having espoused good principles, is firm and steady to them, and will not be frightened with winds and clouds from any part of her duty.” She is boldly determined. She isn’t easily scared by the hard things in life. She doesn’t back down from her beliefs or her duties.
I’d also add that The Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of valor. She has the courage and strength…
…to trust her life in the hands of the unseen God,
…to risk loving and serving an imperfect man,
…to take care of a household without flopping back in bed in the morning, afraid to face the day,
…to love and serve her children – as children can be messy, aggravating, and tiresome at times,
…to serve those outside her home, to reach out her heart and hands to the needy.
Maybe we need to stop thinking of her as this “perfect powerhouse” and start thinking of her as an ordinary Hebrew wife, mother, neighbor, and friend who loves God, her family, and her community. Does that sound more attainable? For all we know she could’ve argued with her husband about finances on occasion, forgotten to add yeast to her bread once in awhile, had to handle whiny kids who tracked mud in the house, left jam prints on the sofa, and wouldn’t go to bed on time. Maybe she didn’t always have a spotless house every once in awhile when guests came over, and maybe sometimes was too tired at night to pray. For all we know, she may have struggled with insecurity at times and compared herself to other women in the marketplace. She may not have been much different from you and I. She may have been the lady next door.
Live and Grow
Following the example of Proverbs 31 woman is not supposed to break us. It is supposed to guide us. She is praised because her character is noble and virtuous and because she honestly seeks to do the Lord’s will. You don’t have to be superwoman to be a godly wife or mother. You don’t need to be married yet to aspire to be virtuous and noble, to aspire to godly excellence.
1) Seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Make devotions and prayer time an important part of your day. Dialogue with God throughout the day. I often journal my prayers as I find I open my heart more and I’m less distracted. Find a way that works for you to connect with God and do it. For examples, see Sword4Sail’s guest posts on The Sacred Pathways of Walking with God.
2) What is one thing that you can do better to serve your husband? Your children (or your family)? Your friends? Your classmates or coworkers? Your neighbors? Strangers? Think about one thing you can do for each of these groups of people today.
3) How can you strive to be more virtuous? What is one thing that you can cut out of your life that is hindering your relationships?
Bible Verses to Memorize
Scripture memory is such a beautiful and powerful way to know God, recall His promises, comfort us when we are in pain, strengthen us when we are weak, and correct us when we are about to go astray. Here are some verses to consider memorizing with me.
“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:8
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8