Well we’ve come to the end of the Proverbs journey. This is our last installment. It has been my goal through this whole journey, as I wrote about and interacted with these texts, that I was open and personal with God, myself, and you. I wanted my personal journey during this time to be authentic and approachable. I hope by the end you will read this text through a different lens. That you will interact with it on a different level, but in the end you will hear God speaking love and acceptance to you too.
I learned early on in seminary that it’s ok to struggle with scripture. It’s ok to not feel comforted by some scriptures. It is also ok to say I am going to have to come back to this at a later date. God’s not going anywhere and will probably teach you while you wrestle or don’t wrestle with the scripture.
I will let you in on a little secret I did not interact with this particular Proverb until I was in college and then it was just briefly. I went to a small liberal arts Christian college in Rome, GA. Being a Proverbs 31 woman was encouraged. But only part of the text was encouraged particularly verses 10-31 and only the ones that pertained to mothering and being a wife. Did you know there are 9 verses before that have not much to do with womanhood, but more to do with being a leader who leads with integrity and speaks out for justice, kindness, and mercy? The Proverb is guidance from a mother to her son who is a king. In verses 8 and 9 it says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Further into the proverb in verses 20 and 25-26 it says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy… She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” There is so much more to this text but unfortunately we rarely hear about it in mainstream religious discussions. To say the least as a young adult I did not feel that I would ever be the perfect wife or mother to anyone, so I questioned how the text applied to me. I spent years pushing this Proverb out of my reading, because it made me feel like I was not enough.
Why did this particular reading of the text in my twenties make me feel like I was not enough? It was my lack of life experience and the belief in the false expectation of perfection that I read into the scripture. I skipped verses 1-9 and hid from verses 10-31 for years. Anxiety over feeling that you are not enough and you are not perfect has plagued many men and women through history and to this day. I had, and sometimes still have this feeling of imperfection because of my culture, magazines, TV, and movies. Can you imagine what it’s like for twenty somethings now who are bombarded with social media daily that are wrought with filters and then instant commentary? What I want to tell my younger brothers and sisters, and all of us, is that it gets better. Like Proverb 29:25 says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.”
As I have grown and matured in my spiritual journey, as I interact with scripture with a mature lens, my understanding deepens. I glean different wisdom and understanding each time I experience familiar and unfamiliar scriptures. I see them from a different view point. The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom. We have just spent 31 days reconnecting with this wonderful part of God’s love letter to each of us. We know that wisdom is gained through experiencing God’s love and light, listening to God’s instructions, prayer, and our faithful worship of God. I encourage you to take time to re-experience some scriptures that may have left you with a feeling a discontent. Seek God’s wisdom and try to see it through a new lens. In the end all of this is for us, from our creator who wants us to know that we are loved, accepted, and we are enough.