May 15, 2018
On Mother’s Day, I preached from Proverbs 31, often known as the attributes of the virtuous woman. Have mercy. I became exhausted just reading about the overworked, “industrious” woman who wakes while it’s still dark, sews and knits, runs a business, says all the right things, and resists rest. The moans and groans from the congregation rose in surprise and protest during its reading. Though this Scripture is aspirational and inspirational, it has been used as a shaming plumb line for women, an unattainable standard that has justified misogyny throughout history. Yes. Some Scripture can feel like a too tight girdle in Georgia on an August day. Scripture should set us free.
It occurred to me that together we could pick the Proverb apart, or we could do the holy work of rewriting a new wisdom and a new song. Let us become free. I submit to you, dear reader, Proverbs 32:
Who can find a capable person?
Anyone who dares to look!
If you do not see her as capable, review your definition of the word, and look again.
She is precious because she is precious, so honor her.
She is not the sum of her production and should not be known as a human-doing.
She partners with the one who sees her value, who doesn’t seek to bend her, fold her, melt her, mold her, shape her into the small image of “womanhood” the partner learned from other limited and biased sources.
She is not her hair, her skin, and not the objectified collection of body parts that are the flavor of the day.
She is a gift to her partner because she is self-aware, generous, and whole all by herself.
She is made in the image of God.
She wakes up rested between dawn and noon.
She cooks if she desires and eats what she wants.
She resists shame about her body and loves herself through and through.
When the opportunity strikes her, she buys property or fresh vegetables.
She is trusted and wise, and purchases without permission.
She plants a garden because the dirt smells like God, and the earth grounds her.
She goes to the gym because someone bought her a membership, or because she loves the energy she gains from the experience.
She also sits and rests throughout the day, for she is no couch potato—but a goddess of the cushion.
She travels alone because experiences are more important than things,
or travels with her loved ones because she wants to share the awe and wonder.
When she speaks, she speaks with wisdom, and she cusses a little.
She wears makeup, or not.
She does activities because they bring her joy, and resists judgment and shame.
She is empowering, accepting, loving and compassionate, even to herself.
She admits when she’s wrong.
When hair grows on her chin, she lets it curl or waxes it clean.
She marches for justice and makes sure that her life and the policies she supports align with those she wants to empower.
She finds such commitment ethical and moral.
When she is tired, she rests unapologetically.
When she is hungry, she eats until satisfied.
In her opinion, idleness can be holy.
She has children if she wants and if it is biologically possible. And if she is without children, she nurtures her own life.
She was born with a masculine name someone put upon her.
She is differently-abled or living well with mental health concerns.
She needs help, and she can be a help.
She has baggage that matches yours, and it shouldn’t dissuade you from loving her.
She is phenomenal, as Maya Angelou said.
She is confident and insecure at the same time, talented and a person who appreciated talent in others.
She is everything, and with great humility honors the earth and every creature with in.
Write the scripture of your life. Write the song that lives in the truth of you. Slip into the sacred myth that fits your soul. Be kind to yourself and live in the fullness of a transformed story. Breathe deeply and be truth.