Fifteen years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. The joy I felt in waiting for her arrival was unparalleled. God had answered our long-awaited prayer and had given me the desire of my heart. I was going to be a mom!
I couldn’t wait to hold my sweet baby in my arms and begin to shower her with love. Yet in the midst of the excitement over our first baby, I was also panicking in my inadequacies as a future mother. Would I really know how to care for all the needs of a newborn? Could I get her on a good schedule? What if nursing didn’t go as planned? Would I survive getting up to feed a baby multiple times in the night?
How Can I Measure Up?
As a new mom, I read Proverbs 31 and felt overwhelmed by the abilities, strength, and knowledge of the seemingly perfect wife:
- Her husband had full confidence in her (v. 11).
- She was a hard worker, making meatloaf at midnight (v. 15).
- She was a shrewd business woman (vv. 16, 24).
- She had buff arms (v. 17).
- She didn’t ever sleep (v. 18).
- She ministered to the poor (v. 20).
- She didn’t panic over the severe weather alert (v. 21).
- She sewed Pottery Barn quality bedspreads and clothes for her family (v. 22).
- Her husband was well respected (v. 23).
- She had no fear of the future (v. 25).
- She always knew the right thing to say (v. 26).
- She was anything but lazy (v. 27).
- Her husband and kids thought she was awesome (v. 28).
It might have helped me if I’d realized that the Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t a real person but rather a portrait of an ideal woman given to young men looking for a wife. All I could fixate on was my inability to sew a button on my shirt, how every plant I ever tried to grow died, how I was still learning the basics of cooking, how I was scared to drive on icy roads, and I hardly felt I had wisdom to share for all of life’s situations. (Not to mention, I enjoyed sleeping.) I was far from measuring up. Had my husband even read Proverbs 31 before deciding to marry me?
I remember feeling that I had better start to learn some new skills so I could teach my daughter. After all, much of mothering was supposed to be teaching and training the next generation . . . and I had a long way to go.
I’m all for learning new skills. And by God’s grace, I have learned a few new things over the years. But as the reality of life set in, and more children were added to our flock, I realized in the precious few minutes of free time I had, I’d much rather be reading a book or exercising or writing than trying to thread a needle. It was a whole lot less time consuming to buy my produce at the grocery than to grow my own garden. As for providing clothing, I am a shrewd sale-shopper and have passed on my frugality to my daughter. I’ve grown to be content with who I am.
My oldest daughter, however, is different than me. Much to my surprise, she has a keen interest in sewing and knitting, wants to grow her own tomatoes, and has a knack for math that actually makes it fun for her. Despite all my panic over how I would teach her skills I didn’t know, God provided a different means of learning.
A Group of Teachers
Over the fourteen years of my daughter’s life, I’ve seen God provide various women through the Body of Christ to teach and pass on their skills to my sweet girl. It’s a precious example of Titus 2, with older women training the younger women.
My friend Lisa has taught her how to make homemade bread and cinnamon rolls. Rachel, another friend, passed on helpful information on how she could best grow tomatoes in our backyard. My mother-in-law, Barb, has given her sewing lessons when they would visit. A babysitter and friends from church taught her how to knit. And countless women in the Body of Christ have shared wisdom about different situations in life.
With each skill that I hoped she could learn but didn’t have myself, God provided another woman to teach her. And now my daughter is teaching me new things—and also has become the family seamstress!
We Don’t Journey Alone
Mommas, we don’t need to panic when we realize how far we may fall from having the skill set of the Proverbs 31woman. God never intended us to go this journey alone. He has given you gifts that will bless your family and others around you. And He’s given others unique skills that will in turn minister to your family.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Rom. 12:4–6).
The beauty of the Body of Christ is that our gifts and skills will be a means of provision for each other. We need one another. We depend on one another. We bless one another with our gifts. The Proverbs 31 woman is not one individual with a superwoman skill set. Instead, the Proverbs 31 woman is the Church.
How have you been mentored or encouraged through other women in the Body of Christ? Are there ways you could use the unique gifts God has given you to invest in another woman? (If you need a resource to help, check out Nancy’s book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel, and its new small group discussion guide, available in the Revive Our Hearts store.)