Have you heard of “mom guilt”? That pressure that you’re messing up your kids for life and will probably need to pay to put them through counseling when they get to adulthood?
About 2 years ago now, just barely getting the hang of this breastfeeding thing, I fell asleep while nursing my sleeping child. Suddenly, I woke up to this strange sensation that I was falling. You know.. that weird dream that really messes with your brain and makes you ACTUALLY wake up… Well, there I was, in that split moment between awake and asleep, holding my 4-week old son in my nursing glider… and almost as if through an out-of-body occurrence, I watched my sleep-deprived self drop my child.
He cried, and it took him so long to calm down that I was sure that I broke him. I cried a lot more than he did.
There I was… experiencing my first full dose of mom-guilt.
Have you ever experienced guilt while reading the Bible? More specifically…
Do you feel pressure and discontentment when you read Proverbs 31?
- Did you make your own clothing, your husband’s clothing, as well as your bedding sets?
- Do you have a vineyard that you planted yourself? That you bought with no loan?
- Do you wake up at 3:00 AM every morning to go sell your handmade fabric and crops at the farmer’s market?
And my favorite…
- Do you have like 10 maids and servants who help you complete your to-do list? (Proverbs 31:19)
Of course, you don’t.
Don’t get me wrong, the Proverbs 31 woman is a role model of mine. At one point, I had a large chunk of it memorized and I still have retained enough of it to quote to myself when I’m doing mundane chores (Proverbs 31:31) or when I’m trying to honor my husband in front of others (Proverbs 31:23), I love Proverbs 31 in those moments.
But I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to emulate this woman… almost as if we think she was something she wasn’t. And this pressure or guilt we feel? I think it’s from the pits of Hell itself.
Satan is a slippery one and knows how to apply Proverbs 31 woman guilt! (See: 9 Lies Satan Whispers to Mothers)
He’s a snake! He somehow convinced the first two humans to sin against the Father… with the twisted words that God Himself spoke.
And Satan will continue to twist God’s Word in whatever way possible. Including Proverbs 31. Satan will make the Proverbs 31 woman seem unattainable, unapproachable, and impossible.
So… should we give up?
Modern day I think it’s comparable to comparing your miserable, horrible, no-good day to a Christian woman’s curated and polished Instagram feed or Pinterest board.
Ooooh. Shiny. And so unattainable.
But… she isn’t perfect either.
You know as well as I do that behind the highlight reels- either yesterday or today- the women are just NOT perfect. Look at the film that didn’t make the cut; the stuff that landed on the editing room floor and you’ll see a sinning woman; a woman in need of God’s grace. And in need of grace from her husband and her children. That’s the stuff that we choose not to share on Facebook, and that’s the stuff that even the ancient Proverbs 31 woman had.
Time for a reality check!
Yeah, it’s true that the Proverbs 31 woman held a position of honor (Proverbs 31:29) but in real life? She also stubbed her toe and said a bad word or thought a hateful thought towards someone else.
Yeah, it’s true that the Proverbs 31 woman’s children grew up and called her blessed (Proverbs 31:28) but she also had times where she was impatient or yelled in front of them.
Yeah, it’s true that the Proverbs 31 woman was a kind, strong, and gentle woman who had wisdom pouring out of her mouth when she spoke. But in real life? She had to grow into that. Slowly, one step forward, two steps back style. She messed up. The book of James says that: “ For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2) Was the Proverbs 31 woman the perfect person? No. Jesus Christ was the only perfect person. And praise God for that good news, am I right? 🙂
Because she was a sinner.
I think where we pick up this guilt is that we are looking at the Proverbs 31 woman and comparing her highlight reel to our behind-the-scenes daily mess.
The pressure to perform separately from the Holy Spirit isn’t healthy. And comparing your daily grind to an ancient woman’s highlight reel isn’t healthy either.
Just like those put-together Instagram feeds.
The Proverbs 31 woman was no Savior. She was no Jesus Christ. She was a sinner in need of God’s grace. Just like you. Just like me.
But. She did live an admirable life. I hope that my husband can say similar things about me when we are in our sunset years.
Ditch the Proverbs 31 Woman Guilt & start with ONE thing.
I attended a Christian Blogging Conference in my first year of blogging and I left with a list of 18 things that I needed to do – ASAP! In great wisdom, knowing the overwhelm that many of us would feel, one of the last speakers in the 3-day conference addressed this. She told us: choose one thing. Just one manageable goal, because if you don’t, you’ll choose them all. And choosing them all means choosing none of them.”
None of your to-do lists will get done if you attempt to do ALL OF THE TASKS at once.
So, my proposition might be obvious but I’ll go ahead and state it anyway: if you want to be just like the Proverbs 31 woman’s highlight reel… that’s great! Choose one thing and keep working.
Don’t read Proverbs 31 with guilt…
But rather, read it as a “hall of fame” that you want your life to emulate. And remember that while the Proverbs 31 woman was a woman full of grace, business sense, and honor… she was also a sinner.
The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t our savior. Jesus Christ is our Savior!
Sarah Hardee writes for Christian Moms at her website Christ-Centered Mama and has been married to her husband Benjamin for 6 years. She helps her husband in his role as a pastor in rural Kansas. She has a 2-year-old son and is expecting another child in the early spring of 2018.