She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come.
Proverbs, Chapter 31. To be honest, though I hold this passage of Scripture in reverence as I do any of God's Word, I actually have shied away from it a bit over the years. I grew weary of hearing the tired though well-meaning compliment, "She's a P31 wo-man, that's for sure." I don't know why, but I did. Maybe it was a deep-down sense of knowing I'd never measure up. Or on the flip side, an irritation at the tendency of (I'm sure usually well-intended) Christian men to hold women to the impossible picture of perfection.
Like a self-righteous Pharisee, I sometimes see these beautiful words from the Lord as a checklist. I go down the list, and I make my little marks. Ok, God, yep I watch over the affairs of my household. I do a pretty good job on that, I think. I fear You, Lord. Eating the bread of idleness, nope not me. I set about my work vigorously. I try to be resourceful, and make wise investments. I wake up before dawn to make sure my family has what they need. Check, check check. Yep, I think I'm doing pretty well on all of the above.
And then there they are. In black and white. Strength. Dignity. Laughter at the days to come. And my little house of Pharisaical cards comes-a-tumblin' down. 'Cause Lord knows those words rarely are accurate descriptors for me. When faced with fears that paralyze, I crumble into an emotional, self-centered, myopic mess. The thought of living life without someone I love. Tragedy. Illness of a child. Fear that I am neither special, nor chosen, but instead easily cast away. If you're not careful, these kinds of fears will consume you, rendering you ineffective, not to mention miserable. But there is another choice. We can allow those fears to point us to the Savior who delivers us from ALL fear.
It's ironic how the Enemy will take even scripture and twist it to accuse, and to shame. And though it is a battle, I refuse to let him use the Lord's words for that purpose, and I refuse to let him win. Yes, I am weak instead of clothed in strength. That is certain. But my God says that His power is made perfect in weakness. Yes, I am sinful, disgraced, ignominious. But my God says that He will clothe me in a robe of righteousness, through Christ's sacrifice. Yes, I too often operate out of a spirit of fear, rather than an ability for carefree laughter borne from a knowledge of Who is in control. Yet even so, my God assures me that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and what's more, that He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
Sometimes I don't like that self-discipline part. I'd rather, sometimes, just kinda leave that word off. Because that's where it gets difficult, and I have to do things I don't want to do, things that may not be easy. But He also tells us that he has given us everything we need for life and godliness in Him. He doesn't leave us alone. Or unequipped. Or without hope.
I am praising Him for that today.