CHAPTER Eight:

Honor & Community Leadership 

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.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:25-27

And so here she is, honored and covered by her husband, full of identity, and serving with double portion.  We know that she is well prepared because she is clothed with strength and dignity. She isn’t wearing rags or asking for acceptance from anyone. She isn’t trying to build a platform or a business out of insecurity or out of need, instead she is speaking with wisdom and instruction.  Her experience has made her a teacher.

How beautiful is this? People who have been healed much can help heal others. It’s the gift of nurture and sharing and community.  Wisdom, though, shows us that she is not in need but instead others need her.  She is watching over the affairs of her household and is not lazy with her hand. It’s not that she doesn’t have enough, it’s that she has more than enough and so she’s bringing even more to the table.

I realize that in this day and age many women would scoff at this scenario.  In fact, they’d also be jealous.  I know that’s a hard line, but let’s speak to this.  Here she is, the hardest worker we know, who has a beautiful covering but isn’t stopping there. She’s continuing to work hard and give more while her family affairs stay in order.  This is enough to make another tired or unsatisfied woman envious or motivated; it’s the curse of Eve.  What do you do when you see a woman like this?  Do you look at what Scripture has to offer, or do you celebrate who she is and ask for the same type of wisdom? 

I’ll be honest, social media has increased popularity contests, giveaways, and cliques, but I’m not sure that it has captured the essence of this woman’s true gift.  We have a lot of social entrepreneurs and moms working from home; it is wonderful! When we work hard, we receive fruit from our labor.  However, this woman was clothed in dignity.  She was giving away wisdom.  Her home was honored, and she was balanced.

This.

This is where I challenge the women of today.  And though it may be a difficult question, I will still ask it. Are we searching for worthiness or do we already own it?  Are we searching for acceptance or are we giving from it? Are we providing for the needs of our family or are we giving from the bounty of our communion with them? 

Though it may seem like a minute point, it actually is not.  One way can lead to burn out, and the other way leads to fruit and favor.  Society has a lot of ideas for us on how to provide for ourselves, whether that means how to make ourselves beautiful or how to make ourselves money or how to make ourselves skinny.  There’s a lot out there to buy.

But what I most like to buy is wisdom. Proverbs 1:20-22 (CSB) says “Wisdom cries out in the street, she makes her voice heard in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: How long inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance?” 

Whoa. Wisdom is not messing around.  The instructions on her tongue are serious and are valid.  What is ignorance and what is excellence? We need to know the difference.  If we don’t know the difference, we don’t steward His presence but we try to buy our way into it.  And thankfully, God doesn’t need us to buy anything to get to Him.  Instead, He calls to us and restores us with the gift of His son. He gives us the promise of the Holy Spirit, to counsel and cover us, and He gives us the joy of communion with Him. When we seek His kingdom first, the rest is added unto us.  We can’t seek the gifts in order to get to God.  God knows us, provides for us, and we receive from the abundance of His Hand. This seems ridiculous, I know. What kind of God is this good when we have been so covered in our lies? You mean, we don’t work to get what we need? 

No.

When we live in Presence, we work to give away what we’ve received. This will shift an economy upside down, it will give women a voice, and it will give men respect.  We serve a God who gives in advance.  His forgiveness has been on the table long before we had any idea that we could muster up enough vanity in work to try to cover our nakedness ourselves.  Covering our private parts with figs and leaves was never His idea; that’s what Adam and Eve did after they realized they were naked. We no longer need to live naked because He has clothed us with strength and dignity, and He has put wisdom on our lips. That is our provision in covenant marriage and consummation.  We don’t hustle for our worth, we already have it.  Our good God laid down His life for us to have it, and so we don’t keep shuffling around trying to erase the beauty of His gift; we embrace it.

And in the embrace, we never stop working.  We are always moving, always growing, always seeking more of what He has to offer us.  We aren’t burnt out or wearied out or bloodied, we live in moving rest. We keep twirling.

What a gift.

And so my challenge to the women of today is this:  Don’t look at the gifts of others and desire them. Look at God and ask to receive your identity from Him.  Find out what it is that makes you come alive, and ask God how to use those skills with honor.  Don’t allow laziness to have its way by watching the world around you. Move.  Learn and make mistakes.  Offer up your gifts to serve God first.  When His healing has had its way in you, create enough space in between yourself and this process to then carefully offer up what you learned as a meal for others. 

Serve your husband with a sound mind of surrender to God and with your heart and body to match that, and watch him continually grow more affectionate with you.  As he is promoted in respect at the city gates, so will you.  You don’t need to promote yourself; he is the one who adores you and pursues you.  If you don’t feel adored and pursued, find out why. If marriage isn’t working or is a bit scruffy, get wise counsel to help fill in the missing gaps. Because when you work from rest to serve your husband, you become complete and then more favor is to come.  More opportunities always arrive.  Blessings are always in His right hand. You shouldn’t have to take a million selfies in order to be honored.  We love your face, yes! But we love His exaltation and promotion of your honor more. Both sides are important; self-care and fun but also humility and royalty. Discern which one is which and allow the space for both.

Look for wisdom. Chew on wisdom.  Surrender your heart to God. Read Proverbs daily in order to gain the clarity needed for a life that is blessed. This is where the good life is, full of rest and full of productivity and honor, and you deserve it. It is what God came for, and it is what Adam needed in a wife.

Twirling Tips for Chapter 8:

In what ways do you already accept yourself with ease?

In what ways are you still searching to accept yourself?

What areas in your life can you embrace wisdom more?

A Prayer:

God, thank you for your good graces with us.  Thank you for your honor and esteem over our identities and our design.  Help us to see ourselves the way you see us.  Help us to use wisdom in the way we share and interact with the world around us. Amen.

Copyright Sarah Elizabeth Humphrey 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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