Is the Proverbs 31 Ideal Attainable?
What is homemaking? In the simplest sense, it is the art of making a home. Christian homemaking, then, is the art of making a home that is God-honoring. We get a glimpse of the ideal Christian homemaker from King Lemuel’s mother in Proverbs 31.
This woman is a paragon of virtue. She does everything – and she does it well. Few women can claim to have mastered all virtues set forth here. However, this passage does give guidance for those of us who want to grow as Christian Homemakers. So, what are the ideals set forth by King Lemuel’s mother?
CHRISTIAN HOMEMAKING AND THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN
- She exhibits Christlikeness: strength, honor, joy, wisdom, kindness, fear of the Lord (vs. 25, 26, 30)
- She has a good testimony: her children bless her, her husband praises her (28, 30, 31)
- She is a good wife: her husband trusts her, she helps build his reputation (vs. 11, 12, 23)
- She is skilled in providing clothing for her family and items for the home (vs. 13, 19, 21, 22)
- She provides food for her family(vs. 14)
- She helps provide income for her home (vs. 18, 24)
- She gardens (vs. 16)
- She is physically fit (vs. 17)
- She ministers to the needy (vs. 20)
- She is a diligent and productive homemaker (vs. 27, 31)
IS CHRISTIAN HOMEMAKING ATTAINABLE?
You would think that, after 42 years of marriage, I would have attained the status of the Proverbs 31 woman in homemaking. You might expect my home to always be spotless, meals planned and served on time, every nook and cranny organized and kept straight, laundry kept up, and more. However, life happens. New babies, sickness, moves, weddings, house building, ministry, aging parents, and life, in general, interfere with the best intentions. It seems that there are always interruptions in my quest to become the virtuous woman described in this passage. There have been times when it seemed I was getting close to accomplishing this goal. However, the demands of life overshadowed my plans and dreams of a Proverbs 31 household.
There are so many great blog posts, articles, and books written by women who seem to have mastered the goals set forth in Proverbs 31. They offer homemaking hints and help designed to challenge and encourage us to keep pressing towards the mark. Yet, when we see how far we have to go to attain homemaking perfection, we can still get overwhelmed. When this happens, we are tempted to simply give up. So, what can we do?
CHRISTIAN HOMEMAKING HELPS
While we won’t cover the nuts and bolts of Christian homemaking here, we will look at four obstacles that can get in our way. They are comparison, lack of wisdom, lack of strength, and discouragement.
STOP COMPARING OURSELVES TO OTHERS
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12
Have you ever been guilty of comparing your homemaking abilities with those of others? I know I have. According to Scripture, when we fall into this mindset, we are not being wise. I believe this is because different circumstances will yield different results. In addition, appearances can be deceiving.
For instance, several years ago, one of the young moms in our homeschool group told me, “Your home is always so orderly. How do you do it?” This mom had five children under the age of nine. I had twelve children ranging from newborn to late twenties. There was no way that she could attain, with five littles, the level of order I had with a houseful of adults. She felt like a failure because she couldn’t achieve the same results I did. She didn’t consider the fact that our circumstances were totally different.
Later that year, we hosted the annual Christmas tea for our homeschool support group. Our family had been traveling a lot and our home had suffered in our absence. As we prepared for the tea, we got all the rooms that would be seen by guests in perfect order. We shoved everything into the bedrooms behind locked doors. When this young mom arrived, I told her I had something to show her. I brought her on a tour of the house – the WHOLE house – messy rooms and all. After the tour, she teared up and said, “This makes me feel so much better!” When she saw my hidden clutter, it helped her to realize that things weren’t always as they appeared and that even the most orderly homemakers can be hiding imperfections behind locked doors.
SEEK WISDOM FOR THE TASKs THAT LIE AHEAD
Sometimes, life gets in the way of our homemaking attempts. As a result, we get behind and have no idea how to get back on track. We make countless to-do lists but can’t seem to pull ourselves out of the rut we have fallen into.
There are many wonderful websites out there that can help us get back on track (see links below). However, it’s difficult to focus and make progress when we are completely overwhelmed. In addition, not every method on every site will work for everyone. So, where do we begin?
First, ask God!
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. ~ James 1:5
It can be as simple as saying, “Help, I don’t know where to begin,” or “Please show me the first step.” God always knows where we are, and He always knows what we need to get us moving in the right direction.
Second, just get started. Activity breeds activity, or as Einstein once said, “Nothing happens until something moves”. Choose one task for the day. Often, that’s all that’s needed to get the momentum going. You might be surprised how much you actually get done once you start moving. Finally, celebrate little victories. Rather than focusing on the tasks that remain undone, reward yourself for the tasks you were able to accomplish. Every little step gets you closer to your goal.
RELY ON GOD’S STRENGTH AND NOT OUR OWN
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. ~ Phil 2: 13 How encouraging! God works in us to give us the will to do what He wants us to do. In other words, even when we don’t WANT to tackle the tasks that need to be done, He can give us the “want to”. In addition to this, He also works in us to DO what He wants us to do. Because we know Christian homemaking is God’s “good pleasure,” we can rest assured that He will give us the strength and ability required to do it. Even when things get hard, and we don’t feel that we can accomplish the task set before us, He gives us assurance,
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
REMIND OURSELVES THAT GOD’S MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY DAY
We all go through seasons in life where homemaking is a challenge. Maybe circumstances have taken us out of our homes for days or weeks on end. Or perhaps, sickness has interfered with our ability to keep our home in order. No matter what the circumstances,
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23
More than anything else, Christian homemaking requires a relationship with Jesus Christ. As we grow closer to Him and learn more about Christian living, we will be ready to tackle the obstacles that stand in our way. Only then will the Proverbs 31 ideal become attainable.
If you’d like to study the Proverbs 31 Woman in depth, check out Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s podcast series, The Counter-Cultural Woman: A Fresh Look at Proverbs 31.
You may also like:
- Five Fixes For Clutter
- Large Family Christmas Traditions
- 5 Reasons to Homeschool
- Marriage: God’s Plan and God’s Purpose
- Hitting the Target: Pointing Your Children to God
- Quiet Time at Jesus’ Feet