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Proverbs 31:30b-31

            "But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.”

My mother raised me almost single handedly. My father was around sometimes but most of the time he was gone. They divorced when I was four and my mother and I were on our own after that. My father was a rodeo cowboy who was also a stunt man, body double, published author  and a construction worker when times were hard. He was the very definition of a man. He loved Jesus and he loved to dance; he just couldn't keep his love life straight. 

     My mom was in the film industry too after modeling in her younger life. She worked on the backside of the picture business and sometimes made appearances as an extra. She loves the Lord with all of her heart, but she was in a constant fight to survive. Both of my parents gave more than my genetic code. They gave me their love for Jesus and encouraged me to develop my own relationship with Him.

     My mother is brilliant with numbers, an extremely talented artist and one of the strongest people know while still being absolutely stunning. However, I have watched her over the years struggle with two jobs most of the time to provide for me and help me when I needed it. This is not what she wanted though. My mother always wanted just to be a wife and a mama. To give her husband something wonderful to come home to and a reason to come home and to work hard all day. But, like millions of women everywhere, she was not able to do that because of who she fell in love with. 

     My father was raised with three sisters who were outspoken and tough, so he had to be tougher, yet he was still very sensitive. He really wanted the same things as my mother, but he was used to submitting to women, not the other way around. 

     I love both of my parents and I love that they both really just wanted "the American dream". All I ever wanted was to be a wife and a mama too, but like my mother, I was unable to for years. 

     When I was younger, I would express my desire to take on the traditional female roles as homemaker to those around me and I was criticized for it. The men would say that they didn't want a woman who could not provide for herself and the women would say that I didn't need a man and that I should make sure that I didn't. 

     Because everyone around seemed in opposition to me I did things to fit in with either side, but I was in internal conflict constantly. I decided to go to God about it and see what His heart was. 

     The Spirit of the Lord led me to Proverbs 31 of course which describes the attributes of a perfect wife. Incidentally, Proverbs 31 was spoken to Solomon (King Lemuel) by his mother- Bathsheba, which is interesting to me since Solomon’s very existence as David and Bathsheba’s son came from an adulterous relationship. 

     There are many concepts and life goals to be extracted from Proverbs 31:10-31 but I wanted to highlight two that changed the way I thought and the way I lived as a result of my query to God regarding this. 

     As a woman, as a female, I sought attention but what I really wanted was praise. Unfortunately, having attention seemed to be the only avenue to praise that I saw. In fact, every woman I have ever met does the same thing, at least for a while. There are those who never receive the attention or praise they seek in any form or not in the right form, so they isolate themselves and tell themselves that they don't need it. God says something different. He says that women are to be praised, but they are to be praised the right way and for the right thing. Proverbs 31:30b says that a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Here I was, always seeking praise in various ways. I would seek praise for how pretty I was, how I did my hair or makeup or the clothes I wore. I would seek praise for how tough I was or how successful I was at work or school. But what about when my hair didn’t come out right or my makeup wasn’t on point? What about when I said something stupid at school or dropped the ball at work? What then? Was my identity, my self-esteem in jeopardy? Yes. 

    For years I thought I could draw a straight line between any one of those performance-based scenarios to who I was as a person. I knew, in theory that was not a healthy concept, but I really couldn’t separate my actions from my supposed identity. Everywhere I turned people told me that it was wrong to seek recognition and praise while at the same time they recognized and praised other women for doing the exact same things I was. What the heck was the deal?? I asked God that exact question and He pointed me to Proverbs 31 verses 30 & 31. He said to me, “Wednesday, I created you to need praise. You have just been trying to elicit it in a natural way which is not sustainable nor ultimately fulfilling. Because natural man is fickle.” He said that it was in me to want and to seek praise but that for my self-esteem to be solid, the praise I received had to be from being a woman who feared the Lord. 

    I was raised not to submit to and definitely not to fear anyone- even God so I saw this as quite a hurdle. What was I to do God? Then the Holy Spirit brought to my attention that I have the same Spirit on the inside of me that was in Christ Jesus- according to Isaiah 11, I already have the Spirit of the fear of the Lord!!!! Now I just had to walk in faith by first believing that I have the Spirit of the fear of the Lord and then acting like I believe it. However, this left one more question in my heart, what about Proverbs 31:31? 

I am not a feminist and would consider myself antifeminist in fact. That does not mean, however that I am anti feminine. God created me to be a helper to my husband. To be exact, a helper that is comparable to him, or on the same level as him. So, what about my talents, my attributes, what I can give and offer to my marriage, to my life? Since simply being a woman who fears the Lord will, for me obtain all of the proper praise I could ever want or need, what do I do with all of the talents and abilities that God has given me? The answer is that I get to use them to bring glory to God! What’s more, is that God doesn’t want anyone else taking credit for them!! Proverbs 31:31 assures me that God’s heart is to have me utilize my talents and giftings to help my husband and that they demonstrate the Spirit of the fear of the Lord that is in me. Then, once accomplished, He wants me to get the credit for it. Not my husband!!! This is God’s true heart. Women have their place and there is nothing wrong with that place being next to their husbands because God has us!! We are not in a lesser position than a man, just a different one. God wants to point out the talents we have to our husbands, families, and the world so that they praise us correctly and so that we do not seek after the “glory” and “praise” of mankind because mankind is fickle. 

Here is the bottom line- There is nothing wrong with desiring praise, God created us that way. But receiving praise for fearing the Lord is the only way we will not depend on external circumstances to build our self-esteem. Further, God gave us talents and giftings that are valuable to the world. When we exhibit those under the covering of the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, we will receive proper recognition and accolades from those in the world around us. This is fulfillment in its most perfect state.                                                           

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