Today's lesson at the women's Bible study I attend focused on the Proverbs 31 woman. After doing my homework for the lesson I felt convicted, and maybe even a little condemned. How can I live up to that high standard?
The small group discussion time encouraged me a little and helped me focus on the small ways that I am a Proverbs 31 woman in some aspects of my life.
Then for our large group time the leaders gave us a special treat. They invited us into a room filled with tables each decorated with a specific theme representing different time periods of a woman's life.
One table had a centerpiece made up of a breast pump, diapers and baby food. Another table had juice boxes and alphabet stickers. There was a high school and college themed table, a wedding table, a traveling in retirement table, a 50th anniversary table and a "silver-haired sage" table.
As we noshed on our veggies, crackers, cheese and cupcakes, one of the leaders interviewed four women at four different stages of life about how they lived out Proverbs 31.
I came away encouraged and inspired instead of discouraged and condemned.
With the decorations and interviews, the leaders beautifully illustrated that Proverbs 31 is not necessarily a description of a single day in an ideal woman's life. It is the sum of her activities through the various seasons of a long and productive life.
I especially loved that the verse on the baby stage table was "She gets up while it is still dark to prepare food for her family." The baby and toddler years are a time for getting up in the night to tend to the needs of our little ones, whether that involves physically nourishing them with our breasts or a bottle, or the spiritual and emotional nourishment we give them each time we sacrifice sleep to be awake and present with them to soothe their hurts, fears, and sicknesses.