How many of us as women today are in a quandary about opportunity “out there” and the tempting bright lights of the big world. We love our husbands and children and we deeply desire to “build our house” as we work to set it up securely and efficiently. Our husbands and children deserve our best effort; we love them. Still in the same moment inner motivation to develop inborn gifts “beg” for attention.
For you, as for many women, your best life may be to create and manage what you do within the four walls of your house. Look at the wise woman in Proverbs (we call her “P31”, the Proverbs 31 Woman). She was a wife, mother, and administrator of servants — a business entrepreneur. She worked most of the time from her house, thus, she was a “stay-at-home-mom”; note her positive attitude: she was not a “stuck-at-home-mom”. The difference is in her attitude about her life; her view of it. She saw the opportunities it offered.
The term, stay-at-home-mom, is often a put-down, used by people who have no regard for a well cared for home and child-rearing as real, meaningful work. If a woman listens to such people she can find herself feeling she has no value because what she does has no value (according to those who devalue stay-at-home-moms.)
Sadly some tradition, whether religious or cultural, is often demeaning to women. It says she must bury herself in her husband, home and family and relinquish any thought of personal growth, discovery of her God given persona and gifts. She should focus solely on the needs of others. If the life of any woman, married or single, is dictated only by the needs of others, she will likely never sense the joy of freely thinking and studying on her own, developing her uniqueness and style and opinions. If she “must forget” about her personal perspective as a woman, self doubt may dry up her freshness and charm. Her attitude will grow despondent and she may become listless.
She will not look for growing opportunities because she comes to believe she has no opportunities. If her dreams are wrong to hope for, why not give up and give in! Why not die a little inside; look at soap operas, get soft and unhealthy. Adult talking times, freedom and individual pursuits are a thing of the past (or they are so far into the future, life is hopeless right now). Is this the picture of a wise woman? No, it is the picture of a stuck-at-home-mom.
P31 has not allowed this to happen! The key is in her attitude and because she looks hopefully for opportunities as they show themselves. You are P31’s sister because you can take control of your attitude. Look inside first. Look to God and then to Scripture and see if the God of the Universe doesn’t affirm your gifts by opening doors to your dreams and desires. What are your gifts, dreams and desires? Have you listed them? You should. Make that list and review it periodically; change it as you think differently. Keep reminding yourself of your privilege: you are a woman, a wife, a mother, a gifted female, created in God’s own image.
All women can encourage themselves. The interests and life and work of P31 will amaze you. But first notice her husband’s attitude: “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” “Her husband rises up and calls her “Blessed . . . and he raves about her.” (Proverbs 31:11, 12, 28)
This privileged woman is in the marketplace buying wool and flax. As merchant’s ships do, she brings food from remote places. She considers good property and buys it. She plants a vineyard. She works into the night on the spindle designing clothing of silk and purple and fine linen. Then she goes to market, selling and delivering her designer merchandise.
Did she wake up one morning with all this fully developed in her mind? No, it came to her over the days, weeks, months and decades. Sometimes in the quietness of her alone times, sometimes cradling an infant, sometimes discussing her ideas with her husband, and a light goes on in her head; it’s inspiration. She kept after her attitude and looked daily for opportunities. And God affirms her profitability by saying at the end of the chapter highlighting her: “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Her work is rewarded with real down to earth pay! And God says that it is hers.
Not only does our model girl use her talents and gifts of creativity, interaction and initiative but she and her husband have a solid marriage. P31 gives her children, servants and other members of the household personal one-on-one attention.
Read it for yourself. Ponder the life of a wise woman! You, like P31, will draw the praise of God and the praise of all around you. You and she may be a stay-at-home-mom, but neither of you are stuck-at-home-moms.