With her cape rippling out behind her, she stares out across the vast unknown with her shoulders square, head held high, giving the future the stare down. The look that says, “Bring it, future. I know you have a lot of tricks, twists, and turns up your sleeve, but I have hard won strength, honor, and wisdom on my side. So bring it. Bring your best, I’ve got better.”
This month I’ve been working through a She Reads Truth study on Proverbs and it is certainly hitting me where I’m at with all its wisdom and reminders of living a faithful life. Some of the wisdom and reminders I have appreciated more than others.
Today, as I read through the Proverbs 31 passage, about the attributes of a virtuous woman, the above image came to mind. Truthfully, that’s who I would like to be. I’d like to be the woman in cape laughing at the fear of the future. And for many years I struggled with that one particular line, because I was doing anything but laughing.
I was crying. I was anxious. I was eating copious amounts of ice cream. I was spending entire days crumpled on the couch. But I was not laughing.
So I would read all about the Proverbs 31 woman, the ideal faithful woman, and I would close the book, disappointed once again that I didn’t have what it took to be one. Despite the fact that I rose before the sun came up, despite the fact that I managed our family’s finances, despite the fact that I was helping my community, I could not laugh in the face of the future. The present was providing me too many painful inputs to think the future was going to be any better and that I needn’t fear it.
Now, I’m future me. I’m the me that the crying, anxious, ice cream eating, crumpled on the couch me couldn’t fathom.
And this me can laugh.
Those tears and anxieties, gave way to written prayers and bent knees.
I have hard won strength, honor, and wisdom on my side. I have hope. And with that knowledge and hope I read Proverbs 31 with fresh eyes. I was never meant to be the virtuous woman all on my own. I was never meant to carry the weight of all the things that encompass family life without help.
See I always got discouraged at the laughing part because it felt so overwhelming, (I’m supposed to do all that AND laugh at the fear of the future? Forget it.) so I’d close the book, defeated. But that verse is not the end. In fact that’s 5 whole verses before the end. And it closes with, “a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. (v. 30)”
That line speaks of a totally different version of fear. In that line fear means reverence or awe.
It’s that reverence, that awe of the Lord that has to shape everything else in the passage. Without that respect, that relationship, all the other stuff is too heavy, too hard, and not meant to be mine alone.
I could not laugh at the future because I was holding onto everything with an iron fist. I was not in awe of the Lord, because I didn’t even acknowledge He was there. It was me, and me alone, trying to check the boxes on being a virtuous woman, while completely missing the point. It’s not about my doing. It’s about my being-being in relationship with Him and being willing to follow His guidance.
I still think the woman in the cape image is the image of the Proverbs 31 woman. Rarely have we met a cape wearing super hero whose strength, honor, and wisdom wasn’t hard won at the hands the of the super natural. That’s the faithful woman described-a woman who acts and speaks with the strength, honor, wisdom that is the result of a direct relationship with a power greater than herself. And she can laugh at the fear of the future because she knows her “better to the future’s best” doesn’t rest on her alone.