The Strength of a Woman
The baby’s cries pierced through the walls for the third night in a row. Just when we hit a stride in her sleeping patterns, she enters a new growth spurt and the nighttime feedings start again.
I’m weary. So weary.
I stumbled to her room and lifted her from her bed. Her warm, doughy cheek pressed into my neck, and the moment was everything I could hope it would be, except for the fact that it was two in the morning.
Yawning, I stuck the bottle in her waiting mouth and leaned my head back, mind running through the laundry list of things that needed to be done once the sun made her way high up into the sky.
So much. There’s so much to do. On any given day, I’m not sure how it is I manage to accomplish all the tasks in front of me. And for all that I manage to get done, it seems I forget half as much. I’m forever a step behind in life.
I stumbled back to bed and fell onto my pillow, and before I knew it the alarm jarred me, yet again, from my slumber. I had work to do, but first.
I’m trying to dig into my Bible before I open my computer. I’m not always good at it. Some days, the pull of work is just too strong. But on this morning, I pulled out my Bible and started reading. I landed in Proverbs and flipped to Proverbs 31.
This passage of scripture both inspires and baffles me. How does she do it, this Proverbs 31 woman? I know that this wasn’t the picture of a single woman, but rather the composite of a woman. But still. I’m forever dropping the ball, and I don’t even have to sew my children’s clothes from woolen materials!
But on this morning it hit me. As I read through this passage for the hundredth (thousandth? millionth?) time, my mind wandered back to the Maasai women in Tanzania. I thought of the hut built by a woman’s hand, and the village of women who birth the babies and raise the children, kill and prepare the food. What strength they possessed.
Then my mind drifted to the stories of the German women who picked up shovels and rebuilt their cities after the war. And the women of America who entered the factories and kept the country running while our men fought.
I thought of the Ukrainian girls and women sent to slave labor camps, forced to build artillery for the enemy.
And then I thought of my own mom, faithfully raising and loving two children. I thought of her bringing in her sister’s kids because that’s what family does, even when it’s hard. I thought of the way she flew half way across the world to stay with my children for eight days so that I could have an adventure.
And I read Proverbs 31 again with hot tears dripping from my eyes because it finally hit me.
Proverbs 31 isn’t the story of one woman, nor is it a composite of all the things I should be.
Proverbs 31 is the story of women – of womanhood. It is everything that we are, the collective whole of us. It is the strength that God knit into the very fiber of a woman’s heart.
This is the strength that carries a woman through back breaking labor, through childbirth and child rearing, through midnight feedings, never ending schedules, and days that stretch into nights with little or no opportunity to rest.
This is the strength that gets a mother through the year-long deployment of her soldier husband. It’s the strength that allows a woman to get up each morning and dig her heels into all that life has to offer – the good and the bad.
Proverbs 31 isn’t the unattainable goal of womanhood. Oh, no.
Proverbs 31 is a celebration of all that God has made us to be.
Sweet friend, are you weary tonight? Do you feel like you’re failing at every turn? Does life feel like it’s just a little too much?
Take heart, dear friend. He has knit into you a strength that cannot be explained. It can only be lived, one step, one day at a time.
You, dear woman, are stronger than you think.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31: 25-26