As women we struggle so much to find our purpose in life. Proverbs 31 has given me an assignment of a lifetime. I might not be that woman to the T, but I definitely will not stop trying to be. For those who have never read this chapter there is talk of a super woman who wakes up really early ,cooks ,cleans and clothes her family, runs a business, works in the field ,makes her own silk clothes, buys land and develops property, loves her husband to death, instructs the children in Godly wisdom and and and …I sometimes question how I am supposed to be a proverbs 31 woman when I am not even married , have no children and have thus conveniently disqualified myself from this scripture because of that. How foolish of me. Any way, if any of you ladies has managed to become the Proverbs 31 woman overnight. Please write to me and share your secret …..let me know which planet you are from too.
So I am trying to be a Godly woman. Practicing all that ‘meek and quiet spirit ‘ stuff and its going pretty well.But this Proverbs 31 woman intimidates the hell out of me.
I will not quote out the whole chapter at the beginning of this post because some of you might be so intimidated you will give up on reading the post altogether.
So for now I will speak about the part I find particularly interesting today and hopefully together we will tackle the rest of the chapter piece by piece in the future.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs with no fear of the future. Proverbs 31vs25
I didn’t struggle with understanding the strength part.
A strong woman is a woman who knows who she is and where she is going and is not afraid to go after her dreams. A strong woman is one who keeps challenging herself. A woman who sees that there is always room for improvement. This is a woman who strives to excel when personal, economic, political, and racial obstacles threaten her. This is a woman who is not afraid to wear her femininity gracefully and yet exude power. This is a woman who is not too tough or hard to have a soft spot for a hungry stranger or an orphaned child.
A woman who knows how to stay optimistic in the gloomiest circumstance. A woman with an infectious joy and happiness. A sure woman . An authentic woman .A woman who respects herself enough to stand up for herself and the causes she believes in. A strong woman who is not afraid to love, who is quick to forgive. A woman who inspires other women.
But where does strength come from?
Often when I am strongest I am also at my weakest. The physical and metaphysical walls of protection I built myself would have been razed to the ground by one circumstance or another. Strength is from God and what compels strength is weakness. So i think a strong woman is a woman who admits she is in a time of weakness and prays for strength.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs with no fear of the future. Proverbs 31vs25
It is the ‘dignity’ part that ties me up in knots. It is this question of dignity that led me to write this deductive piece and try to unknot my questions.
What does it mean to have dignity in the context of this verse?. A woman’s dignity that is.
Is it possible for a woman to lose dignity and regain it.?
I think dignity is the sum total of integrity, inner poise, steadfast courage and elegance.
I think dignity translates to self confidence and not vise versa.
There is no amount of plastic surgery that can buy you dignity. You can buy temporary self confidence and self esteem that way but never dignity. There is a popular phrase that goes “no amount of vintage dresses can buy you dignity”.
In Ndebele the word for dignity is Isithunzi. Isithunzi literally translates to a shadow of somesort. The lack off therefore means a shamefully exposed woman. If someone says you have no isithunzi it means you are so vile and wicked and shameful that your own shadow will not dare stand by your side.
The process of losing dignity doesn’t start from outside as most would think. Addiction, dysfunctional behavior, co-depency, loss of self-respect and other negative symptoms are triggered by a loss within. Loss of dignity starts from inside oneself.
Consider the issue of Adam and Eve.
Now as I understand it things were perfectly fine and Adam and his wife where going about the business of the garden of Eden stark naked as awkward as that is to imagine. When they consumed the forbidden fruit they suddenly realized they were naked. Now here is the interesting thing, when they realized that they were naked they did not hide from each other in a dramatic scene of ahhs and oohs synonymous with when one walks into and occupied bathroom to find a man or a woman naked. They strung leaves and covered themselves then they went about their business as usual. They were still as naked as they were before they ate the fruit. You see something changed not on the outside but on the inside. Something so deep in the soul in a place that only God could fix. A place so hidden man and God are face to face.
When God came around in the evening looking for Adam , Adam and his wife hid.
“I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked”
Me thinks did God not know this? He did. But it was at the point where God searched for Adam that Adam realized the full shame of his nakedness. Those silly leaves didn’t make him feel any better. So ashamed of his nakedness was Adam that it seemed it was a more serious problem than the fact that he had eaten the forbidden fruit.
The loss of dignity can be so diverting , we lose sight of the real problem. The root of our loss. We string leaves around ourselves like temporary masks. We try and bribe dignity with makeup, fancy clothes, titles and fame hoping she will grace us again. We forget that whilst one can command respect, one cannot command dignity. Aristotle says dignity does not consist of possessing honors but in deserving them.
When God had dealt with them accordingly he then made clothes and covered them. He covered their shame .
Perhaps I am the only one who has dramatic imaginations when I read my Bible but God is interesting. I was raised by a mother who would beat you up whilst you were naked. If my mother walked into the bathroom and found that you were not bathing as thoroughly as you should be. If she found that the soap and pumice stone had barely been touched, she would lash you there and then. If she came home while you were bathing and heard from someone in the house that you had been naughty she would march into the bathroom and deal with you. Thats my mother, but God is interesting.
First Adam flips the script of the grand creation process and eats the forbidden fruit. The world was still a little more than seven days old and God could have easily leveled it like a sand castle and started again. Instead he calmly shows up later in the evening and looks for Adam.
“Adam where are you?.”
Epic anger management here.
Judging from his calmness I imagine an English Accent was used here.
Theologists say that Gods search for Adam is proof of Gods redemptive effort from the beginning. His desire to save and have a relationship with man.
My mother wouldn’t have done that. She would have gone to the scene of the crime (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) and summoned me from there.
“Wena Makhosazana!! Akubuye lapha khathesi!!”
“Ngathini?(whip lash) ngathini ngokudli’shlahla lesi?(whip lash) ”.But I digress.
My curious mind asks if Adam was smart enough to name all the animals and plants surely he could think up the simple idea of making his own clothes? The type of clothes that could cover his shame. After all was he not the manager of all affairs in Eden? He tried but he could not. He did not. God came looking, and HE himself covered Adam and Eves shame.
Are we not fortunate that God is always searching for his lost sheep? God is able to convict us of our loss of dignity and is the only person who can restore lost dignity .
“ Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:…1st John 3 vs 3”
Ever wondered why commercial flights don’t fly over the Antarcitic. I read somewhere that planes must be within a certain distance of land at all times .You need to have somewhere to land if you have engine failure or system problems,safety is never compromised. These polar regions are too darn empty aside from a few military installations and research centers. If you crashed , no one would dare find you. There are no airports to land no fuel supplies and the GPS signals are all messed up. The weather is extreme and there are no weather stations all over the Antartica except for a few outposts covering a very large region. Some daredevils do fly over the area but I guess the motto is -God Be With You because incase anything happens where would you land(crash land)and who would find you?
The parts in our soul where we first lose our dignity is like that place. A place where the only one we can SOS is God. A place where the devil likes to believe that if we crash we will never be found, but he is wrong.
What brings a woman dignity?
When one has been thrown in the gutters, used, abused, hurt ,embarrassed, rejected and violated so much that they feel they have lost themselves.
God restores dignity.
The fear of God and the obedience of his statutes.
Did you not hear …that the stone that builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone…rise up…take up your place with confidence .I tell you now. No-one can separate you from the love of God… …Behold he has made all things new.
To the ladies whom things have been said about, vile things, true and false. A reputation seems to have been damaged remember that reputation is but a shadow but character is the real thing. You can always rebuild character.
Let me say.. that it is not your shadow that gives you dignity. It is not your isithunzi. The Bible says our righteousness is like filthy rags.
It’s about whose shadow you are under
“..keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who despoil me ,my deadly enemies who surround me” –Psalms 17 vs 8.
“For you have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy”– Psalms 63 vs 7
Ask yourself -Who is this God whom my frame was not hidden from when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth?
Is he not able to save me?
He is able to.
I know these Proverbs 31 boots are heavy boots to walk in .
But we are strong.
We might sink in their weight sometimes.
We might fail to walk fast enough in them
We might fall or trip even.
But we will not give up.
We will walk in them.
Because these boots are our portion.
We are clothed in strength and dignity and we laugh with no fear of the future.
By Zana’ kay
Proverbs 31:10-31King James Version (KJV)
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.