Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Am a Proverbs 31 Woman - And I Have a Full Time Career

Photo Credit: pepo
There is a blog that I read that I sometimes agree wholeheartedly with and at other times, balk at when I read the titles of the posts. It's okay. I like reading differing opinions - in the comments as well as in the body of the post. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me thinking. I should go ahead and state that it is a highly conservative Christian blog written by a woman. I am a pretty highly conservative woman myself so this isn't something completely foreign to me.

However, there are times when I frankly just feel judged. You know, you read the post and something just jabs at you. And then you read the comments and find everyone agreeing with the writer and no one offering any differing opinions. Is it because I'm just that wrong (I don't think so)? Is it because this blog only captures a certain audience (mostly, but not entirely)? Does this writer moderate and delete the comments of those who differ from her (I don't think so)?

This is one instance that I just have to share. I have to write my point of view. I have to state my case (even to those of you who aren't part of that same audience).

The writer of that blog wrote:

It is impossible to have a full-time career, a solid marriage, secure and godly children, and a well-run home with nutritious food.  Nobody is superhuman.

While I will nod in vehement agreement that no one is superhuman, I felt slapped in the face. You see, I have a full time career...and because of that, I'm obviously lacking in one of the other categories because it is impossible based on her opinions (which so many agree with in the comments) that I could do all of those things well. Forget that she has never met my husband, my children or seen my house or our refrigerator and pantry.

I will not claim to be superwoman, but as I state in the comment section:

...I am a full-time working engineer. I have a solid marriage with a man who loves me and respects me. My children love God and love learning about God. Their father and I are far from perfect, but we strive daily to show them how to seek God and love others as we are commanded to do. My home is well run - the bills are paid on time every time; the house is clean; there is currently one load of laundry waiting on me; there is a fully stocked fridge of fresh and healthy food as well as some treats that may not be healthy but are also not altogether terrible - and those are limited in their consumption. The beds are made, the kids' chores are done, everyone is dressed, their homework is finished, we attend church services and functions at most every chance, and our children are also involved in extracurriculars. Additionally, we are not raising children who are materialistic. They are generous and loving. They are giving and fun. There is plenty of family time spent absent from technology. There are lots of cuddles to go around. There is plenty of husband-wife time. There is even room left for me to have a bubble bath with a good book at the end of the day.

So - although I am not perfect; my family is not perfect either - we're quite put together. We get our stuff done. We serve the Lord. And to say that this is not possible because I work away from the home, is quite a far reach from reality.


I understand, and honestly agree, that no one will raise my children like I will. I agree that time is the best thing I can give my children. I believe that it is mainly my responsibility to maintain our household (not that I do the work, but make sure it is done).

But I want to point out something that a huge trend of Christian women are missing these days, I believe.  You know the Proverbs 31 woman that everyone quotes?  You know, she cooks and sews and gives and volunteers and raises godly children all while pleasing her husband?  Read between those lines.  You know what else she does?  She buys a field with her earnings (verse 16), she trades (verse 18), and she sells items she has made (verse 24).  She is a business woman. Yes...she is at home much of the time. But is this what the writer of the proverb is praising?  Could it be that she is at home doing these things because it was socially unacceptable for women to work or be formally educated?  It appears that she is working hard and earning her own money to care for her family. Notice again...the field is bought "with her earnings" (again - she has earnings, people).

It actually never says that she stays home and cares for her children. She might have to hand them off to a relative to do all of this work and these business dealings - at least some of the time that would seem feasible.

It simply says that she does whatever she can to take care of her family.

So why is it that working outside the home is thought of as "lesser" in some Christian women's circles?  The Proverbs 31 woman did it...at least some of the time. There is no way she did all of that from home.

So if you want to stay at home and raise your children, I say good for you. More power to you. I'm so excited that you have that option in your life. On some days, I wish it were me as well.

But if you can't stay at home...or just don't want to...I think that is certainly your decision to make as well as long as you talk it through with God.  Just like I have.  I think as long as you are doing everything you can to make sure that your children are being taken care of by people who have similar values as you and that you are making sure there is food on the table for everyone to eat...you also are a Proverbs 31 woman. You are not selfish...no matter what some corners of society tell you.

You are taking care of yours.

Good for you. Carry on and be at peace with God.

14 comments:

  1. Hi Kaye, I was thrilled to read this as I too are a working Proverbs 31 lady and its rare to meet another one. You are quite right, Proverbs 31 depicts a very busy lady, both at home and in business - if this was set in modern day, she may even work from an office and run her own business. In fact there is nothing in Proverbs 31 about homeschooling, in fact I doubt she did - she also had servants (being wealthy) to help her, so we are not talking about an ordinary woman. I doubt she needed to work to make extra money as this was a rich family - their food came from afar and they wore silk and purple (the material of royalty) - she earned an income to keep busy (no hands of idleness). Something appears to be sidestepped by those arguing against working Christian mothers.

    This was my response to Lori's blog (that did annoy me slightly!).

    http://jo-stophaveachat.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/working-women-do-cook.html

    Thanks again for writing this - you are stop on.

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  2. Thanks, Joluise! I knew I found common ground with you based on our similar comments to her blog. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Amazing how your own convictions can waver when so many people are insisting you are wrong! Thanks for the camaraderie!

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  3. I looked up the topic "being a Proverbs 31 woman and working full time" and I was brought to this post. I must say that sometimes God even uses Google. At the moment I am a stay at home mother, I recently graduated with my masters in counseling and am steadfastly looking for a job. In my ideal world I would be able to stay at home while my kids are young, however, we are dirt poor.

    I recently began studying the Proverbs 31 woman and began to fill guilty when I saw other's talk about how she is such a good homemaker, wife and mother and they always spoke in the context of her being a SAHM. Knowing that I will be getting a job as soon as I can I began to feel like I was choosing to abandon this ideal woman.

    I then looked at my husband and saw the desperation and stress on his face. He is working two jobs and most days we still don't have enough to get by. So I decided that "doing good to my husband all the days of my life" for me means that I will have to be a working woman. I cannot let my husband stress himself into a heart attack just so I can be this ideal woman that so many women, especially in my church, feel shouldn't work outside the home.

    So again, thank you for posting this, I now feel recharged and rejuvenated in my decision and that I can be a good, faithful woman and work at the same time.

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    1. Angela - what a Mighty God we serve! He can use any tool he wants - even Google. =) I feel so touched that He has used something I wrote - something I felt He wanted me to write - to bless you and reassure you in your troubled heart. I know that God desires us all to be at peace, and I am saddened when His followers disrupt the peace that others of us are seeking to find.

      Like I stated, I think it is wonderful that God leads some women to care for their children and their household from home. I think though that this passage has been used to hurt many many women who are in the same shoes that we are. I think that some Christian women (and men) have taken it to mean something different than it does and are using that to judge their sisters in Christ. That completely breaks my heart, and I believe, God's as well.

      I totally feel that if God is leading you to work outside your home to provide for your family, then you have to make your peace with Him, not with the women in your church. There is no way that He provides some of us with the talents that He does and doesn't expect us to use them anywhere but inside our home. I can't imagine Him giving someone the ability, talents, and desire to be a doctor and then expect them to not help others with their gifts.

      I will pray for your situation, your peace, and your husband's peace and relief. I will pray for your children's protection as you are doing as you feel He is leading you. He is faithful. Always. He will keep them and your marriage as well when you are serving Him.

      Once again, you have totally made my evening by posting this comment. I pray that God will continue to use it to help others in the same boat. To Him be the glory!

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  4. I'm glad I could make your evening and I greatly appreciate your kind words and your prayers. I think this is definitely a hot button issue within the church today, and I hope that our sisters in Christ can begin to be a bit more accepting of the various ways God calls us all.

    I'm looking forward to continuing to read your blog! Thanks for the friend request on FB too, I hope to get to know you :)

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  5. My comment may be a bit late but I understand all too well. My husband is faith-filled and strong and leads our family through Christ but his talents are not valued in money or salary. He is a stay home dad. I have since our children were small worked outside the home and provided financially. We have split the house maintenance equally. I wake up early and head to bed late and I spend all the time between serving my spouse and children. In the end I know that I must oversee the house and I may at times pull more than my weight. In the end it is still my husband who decides the direction we move and we follow this lead.
    I feel that people take the bible so literally because it is easier than studying and praying through the scripture. The bible was writen within a certain culture and was heavily influenced by it. We are seeing life through the eyes of those who lived in that time and place. We can apply those lessons to our lives today without limiting ourselves by cultural influences
    Thank you for you post and for speaking up.

    ~Sarah

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    1. Sarah -
      It's never too late to comment. =)

      You make a lot of really good points about how sometimes it is easier to read at face value than to study and pray through it. Of course that leaves us open as to what should and shouldn't be taken literally, but honestly, my faith is a personal relationship that I have between myself and my Creator. If I am at peace with Him and feel that I am living out what He has in store for this portion of my life, I have a hard time with other women telling me differently. I know they feel very strongly about their convictions, and maybe that's because they are living the conviction for what God has in store for THEM.

      As I noted, I think that we all have our different paths to walk and if we are holding on to the Father during our journey, I think we should be able to be at peace regardless of what the world - including other Christians - say.

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  6. thank you for posting this article. I work full time and want to be that woman of proverbs 31 - what a great encouragement to know that other Godly women work full time and are able to be that proverbs 31 woman. Please pray for me. I am streching myself in faith, and I know this pleases our Lord. Jeannette H.

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    1. I think anything we do to try to grow closer to God is pleasing to Him. And I know he created all of us to be individuals and that one person's path is not another's. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you as well as all of the other ladies out there looking to please God.

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  7. Megan Clemens12/26/2012 6:19 AM

    I was brought to this post by Google as well. Not only do I work full time outside of the home- I WANT to. I was feeling selfish and guilty about this, thinking that I would never be the Proverbs 31 woman that is described. Though I am a long way from being that woman, your post gives me hope and re-energizes me to work toward that goal. I had, in a way, "thrown in the towel," thinking I would never be acceptable as good enough among christian women. Thank you, thank you for helping me realize I was wrong! :)

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    1. Megan - Thank you for your comment. I love to hear that something I said uplifted someone else. It is a battle that I've struggled with (and still do sometimes), but I know that I'm not in it alone and I wanted others to know that as well. Let's all support each other...from home, work, or anywhere else...as we all seek to know His will for our individual lives. I want to hear HIM say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant" more than anyone else, so that is what I am striving for. =)

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  8. I am contemplating working full-time (I am now a stay at home mom) so I have been praying over Proverbs 31 and Titus and Timothy related to a wife and mom's role. The main point of Proverbs 31 is that she put God first. So we (myself included) must pray and consider if a full time job will take away from what God deems as most import...relationship with Him. Would we be able to devote enough time in studying our Word regularly and praying? We will have time to teach our children about God or will others do it? My suggestion is that we all pray diligently about what God would have for us and not try to bend the Word for what we "want" to do.

    Also, I've been thinking about how God designed us physically, which is to breastfeed our babies. Of course, we invented bottles but God's design points to us having our kids close to us in the early years. This is just food for thought.

    The amplified version of the bible helps to give the deeper meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew language. Here are a few verses of Proverbs 31 from the amplified version with commentary:

    15 She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.
    16 She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.

    18 She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].

    Commentary:
    ...When the summary of what makes her value “far above rubies” is given (in Prov. 31:30), it is her spiritual life only that is mentioned. One can almost hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Mary has chosen the good portion... which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

    Be blessed!

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  9. I am also a working Proverbs 31 woman, and it was so refreshing to read this post. I see so much of the other opinion that I even wrote about it in my blog and my book.

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    1. Shari - it seems that you are not so all alone. :)

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