A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. (Proverbs 31:10-17, NIV)We continue to add to our picture of the Proverbs 31 woman. So far we have seen that she is noble, valuable, and eager to work. This time around verse 17 tells us that she works vigorously and that she is strong. We have already seen that her work involves making fabric, both for her family and as a business. We see here that she also provides food for her family and servants, and that from her business profits she buys land and plants a vineyard. She is quite the entrepreneur! The key thing to remember is that this is her work. My work is different, and your work is probably quite another thing altogether...the things we want to emulate are not her work or her skills, but her character. What attitude does she bring to work with her?
We've already seen that she is eager. She looks forward to getting her cloth made, and now we can see at least one reason why - it is profitable! She makes money from her cloth. She makes enough money to buy land, enough land to plant a vineyard. She typifies the diligent hands praised elsewhere as the source of wealth (e.g. Proverbs 10:4.)
Today we also see that she is vigorous - active, robust, energetic, sturdy, healthy. Interestingly, the word vigorous is used to describe the Hebrew women enslaved in Egypt before the time of Moses. The midwives in Egypt were told to kill the male Hebrew babies as a method of population control, but the midwives feared God and told Pharoah that the women were "vigorous" and gave birth before they could arrive and obey his edict. That's a powerful image! The Proverbs 31 woman is also strong - solid, not easily broken or injured. She takes care of herself so that she can take care of her family.
Self-care is so essential, and so hard to remember. In the press of school drop offs, healthy cooking,
laundry, after school (fitness!) activities, and social opportunities that we seek for our children there has to be time to take care of us, too. I know I have really struggled in this area over the last couple of years. After the twins were born I put off dental visits for myself for a while - I was busy driving the child around to various evaluations, social skill therapies, speech therapy, etc. and seeing to the basic care of the twins. There just didn't seem to be time for taking care of that filling that needed to be replaced. By the time I took care of it I needed a root canal. Lesson learned...sort of. I'm caught up on my dental work now. I have been trying to take better care of myself by walking a lot, eating better, and sleeping as much as I can. I can still tell I'm not in very good shape muscle strength-wise, but at least I am trying whereas before I was just running myself into the ground, literally.
So, note to self and to you as well. The Proverbs 31 lady was certainly busy, but amid all of her work she made sure that she was in good shape, too. Permission granted - take care of yourself!