“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come” – Proverbs 31:25
So, at this point in my exploration of what it means to be a woman, I’ve confessed that I have been, and to a degree, still am lost. We also know that a woman of worth is clothed. She has strength, and she is dignified. (I also think that it is important to note that all but ONE of the girls I put pictures of in the “precious Little” blog about the need for women to clothe themselves has not been given a rose. The girls who were the “hottest” in the beginning of Ben’s quest for his future wife have nearly all gone – the ones left tend to be more modest. Coincidence? I think not.)
What else? The Ideal Wife, as Proverbs 31 calls her, laughs. One of the most beautiful characteristics of a woman is the ability to laugh, to kick back and have a good time. That doesn’t mean that she goes out and parties all the time, she knows her limits and she respects them. She is a classy lady who can laugh at herself and laugh at life. A woman of worth is not super high-strung, high-maintenance and up-tight. She, at appropriate times and places, relaxes and laughs.
A woman of worth doesn’t just laugh at anything, much less anyone. She laughs “at the days to come.” When I first read that I thought, “what the heck does that mean?” She laughs at the future? I can’t imagine kindly laughing at the future. Whenever I laugh about my future it is more to cover up my pain, I laugh knowing that I’ll probably never make much money in this life (the joys of youth ministry!). I laugh knowing that I won’t be married by the time I’m 23, even though it was something I dreamed about for a long time. I laugh because the days to come aren’t what I thought they were going to be. Then, praised be Jesus, I noticed there was a footnote on this verse. In the New American Bible translation the footnote reads, “anticipates the future with joy, free of anxiety.” That, I did laugh at. I surely anticipate the future with joy, I dream about it a lot, but it is hardly ever free of anxiety. In fact, more often than not when I anticipate the future I am filled with anxiety. I wonder how I’m ever going to make ends meet on my lovely youth ministry salary (please don’t think that I don’t love my job, it brings great joy to my life). I wonder how I could ever pay for even the simplest of weddings. How the heck are we ever going to afford to have kids? A house? Will I be happy as a mother or will I hate it? The questions go on and on and the anxiety increases. But that, dear friends, is not what a woman of worth or the “Ideal Wife” is made of. She is free of anxiety.
The more I meditate on this verse the more it touches me, and this lovely little footnote is included in my meditations. How does one (especially a woman) get to be free of anxiety? In the old translation of the Mass, before the new Roman Missal, when we prayed the Our Father, the priest would say his little schpeel and in it he would pray that we would be free from all anxiety. How?
We let go of our anxiety, of our worry and we cling instead to God. In my few years thus far on this earth I know this to be true: the only way any one of us can ever be free from worry is by surrendering it to God and having the faith to trust that He will provide. We don’t just hold God’s hands, we cling to Him with all that we have. Once we cling to Him then we can begin to truly laugh at the days to come, for we know that He will take care of us, He will hold us tightly in the palm of His hands.
Perhaps this is the greatest and most important characteristic of a woman. No, that’s not saying it strongly enough. This is the greatest characteristic of a woman: she must cling to God with all that she has and all that she is. Only then can she laugh at the days to come. Only then will she be set free of all of her anxiety. Only then will she find her true worth, her true dignity. Only in clinging to God with all of her mind, her heart, and her soul will she know what it means to be strong, because His strenth flows through her. Only by clinging to God will she desire to be clothed, to be pretty instead of hot, to be pursued and honored and held to a higher standard. Truly, clinging to God is the most important trait in a woman of worth…and to think, it was only found (at least by me) in a footnote. It is all too easily forgotten. As I said in “precious Little”, we become far too focused on what we need to do as women and we forget about who we should be. We should be women who throw ourselves at the foot of the Cross, who cling to Him with every breath we take. Only then can we do the things that bring Him glory, only then can we be worthy. AMEN.