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(This post appears in the Christian Home Magazine. Check it out!)
This year, I only have one resolution: to be more like the ruby-surpassing, praise-worthy wife who is esteemed by all, envied by most, praised by her children, adored by her husband, and held up for all women emulate to emulate in Proverbs 31. I admit it's a high calling, which is why I have actually written down, verse by verse, how I have been doing thus far on my journey towards Proverbs 31 loftiness and what practical steps I need to take to achieve Ms. 31's degree of wifely perfection before the year is over.
"She brings [her husband] good, not harm, all the days of her life" (12). When I think about what harm I have brought my husband, that lentil-ball disaster is the first thing that comes up. Since I no longer use "vegetarian" and "new recipe" in the same sentence when describing dinner plans, I think it's safe to say that I don't bring Phillip harm (at least not very regularly). But do I bring him good? And whose standards are we using to determine what's "good"? His? If so, then I suppose I'll add ordering pizza and chicken wings to my weekend to-do list. Then I'll sit back and listen to my husband's ceaseless praise.
"She works with eager hands" (13). My hands are very eager, at least when they're flying at 80 words per minute when I'm absorbed in a writing project. Unfortunately, I find my hands a little less than zealous when it comes to things like folding laundry and washing dishes. But since I do "work with eager hands" at least several hours a day behind my computer screen, I suppose I'll check this verse off my to-do list.
"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar" (14). You know, up until I started really taking this Proverbs 31 thing seriously, I always felt guilty for ordering food in or dining out. After all, our family could full sponsor two children a month with the money it takes for one nice dinner out. But Mrs. 31 obviously offered her family a culturally-diverse culinary experience. Since there are no ships to bring us food from afar, I guess I can settle for taking the family out to more ethnic restaurants. Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican ... I'm willing to try it all (for the sake of Proverbs 31-endorsed righteousness of course). There's even a Himalayan joint in town. I guess I'll make my reservation tonight. One more step down towards realizing the Mrs. Ruby ideal.
"She provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls" (15). Like so many other verses in Scripture, this one is actually liberating when followed to the letter. My family has yet to starve, so I guess I'm managing the first half of The Noble Lady's job description just fine. But you know, it's hard to offer portions to my servant girls when I don't have any (servant girls that is ... we have plenty of food). This year's resolution: to hire a full staff for my home, so I can more accurately emulate my purple-clad mentor's habit of waking up while it is still dark to feed them all. (Just out of curiosity: why is the mistress of the home getting up early to feed her servants? Doesn't this seem to nullify the benefits of hiring servants in the first place?)
"She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard" (16). I love this verse. Specifically, I love what's left out of it. Can we make the argument from silence that Ms. Success just goes about these business ventures of hers without consulting her husband whatsoever? Whether or not our businesswoman is acting under Mr. 31's authority, there's no doubt about it: In a time when most women couldn't boast a single dime (or drachma) to their names, our entrepreneurial diva is out buying, selling, and reinvesting her capitol gains. I may not be ready to take out a 30-year lease on an uncultivated field, and I don't know nearly enough about grapes to grow a whole vineyard, but I can host a Scentsy party, right? (Consider yourselves invited.) And with my earnings I can buy some Tupperware! ... I'm so close to Proverbs 31 feminine utopia I can almost taste it!
The whole section about the noble-charactered, spindle-grasping wife of beauty and grace lasts for several more verses, but the closer I look at it, I'm not sure our family budget can handle all of my resolutions towards Proverbs 31 perfection. Maybe after my metaphorical field-buying and vineyard-planting ventures take root (no pun intended) I'll be able to imitate Mrs. Perfect in even more ways, like making sashes for my favorite merchants and holding the distaff in my hands (once I find out what distaff is and figure out where to buy some. Do you think Pinterest can point me in the right direction?).
For now, if we can't afford a whole house full or servants and ethnic dinners out every week, I suppose I can just sleep with the light on. That way, even if I fall short when it comes to every other description of Proverbs 31 perfection, I can at least say I've got one verse covered: "Her lamp does not go out at night" (16).
Guess it's time to go invest in a sleeping mask. At least that's one purchase the budget can handle.