She Works

She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
~Proverbs 31:24

Y’all, this verse has been driving me crazy for weeks. I have mulled it over, consulted several commentaries, and gotten really frustrated about one-sided interpretations about the message of this verse. Think mommy wars. You can manipulate this verse to argue either side of the fight on working in or out of the home, but I’m just unsettled on all of it. While some would be bold and say that this is proof that you *can* work outside of the home and still be a great homemaker, others would be equally bold and say that *obviously* she only worked at home, and that fact is what enabled her to be a great homemaker.

Ugh. I have no desire to weigh in on that fight here. Frankly, here’s the truth about me:

I do not receive financial compensation for any work that I do, be it in the home or out of it.

There are three verbs in (this version of) this verse: “make,” “sell,” and “supply.”

So, I’ve got two out of three. I’m a homemaker, and there are lots of little things that must be “made” in order to make a home. Supplying is a major part of my job, too; I’m constantly finding things someone is about to run out of and trying to restock it before panic ensues! But selling? I don’t sell anything anymore. I used to sell my skills and talents to a few different school districts, and they bought them, and I taught few hundred kids over the years in exchange for a monthly direct deposit, but not anymore.

This puts me in a weird place with this verse.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I be desperately trying to figure out a way to do SOMETHING that will make a little money? Will that make me a better wife — a better woman? 

For me, the answer is no. Here’s another truth about me:

At this time, I know that my entering into some sort of money-making venture, no matter how part-time, would negatively impact my ability to do my main job in life right now, and that’s taking care of my guys.

We can gather from this verse and from the greater context surrounding it that Jewel does not have this same problem. Maybe her kids are older. Maybe she lives in a culture where extended family lives together or in close proximity, so she has lots of help with the kids. Maybe her husband’s job is such that he’s around a lot. (Well, it’s possible that he’s a king, so, who knows!)  I can’t say how she does it, but somehow she’s able to run a business without neglecting her primary calling, which is to her family. Many women do the same thing.

Looking at my life, I cannot relate to that. I know that if I personally tried to do anything like that right now, it just wouldn’t work for us. I know myself and what I can and can’t do. I know that when I was teaching, I was stressed a lot, my house was a mess all the time, and I barely ever cooked — and that was with no kids!  What then could I possibly have to say about the verse above when I know I cannot hold down two jobs effectively?

At the end of my frustration, and after wondering whether you’d even notice if I just skipped this verse entirely — I bet you wouldn’t! — here are my thoughts for anyone who is interested:

Making money or not making money was never meant to be the measure of a mother. Making every effort possible to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples? Yep, that’s it. (Oh yeah, and praying your knees off!)

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, it’s considered normal right now for men to expect their wives to bring home a paycheck. I think this reflects our materialistic culture, though many would definitely disagree with me. Hear me out, though. Your wife may go back to work outside the home after having kids because she wants to! If so, then consider it a bonus! Invest! Go on trips! Build an orphanage! Do awesome things with the extra money. On the other hand, it could be that you will end up with a woman who is more like me. I want and need and yearn to be there for all those million moments with you while you’re mine. I would be dying inside if I weren’t. My heart has come alive in ways it never has before in this new “job,” and I know I couldn’t possibly take on another one. I would not be able to do both well. My advice to you, since you don’t know what your wife will choose, is to relax about the money. Give her the freedom to choose her path without guilt by planning your finances conservatively; setting yourselves up to “need” two incomes might really break her heart, and a broken wife and mama is a great tragedy. It may just leave your whole family broken-hearted. You want your woman’s heart completely full so that she has much to give. Let her have the freedom to follow God’s leading on this without feeling financial pressure.

My Love, I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity and the encouragement you’ve given me to stay home with our boy. Though it is a financial sacrifice, I know that it is also a priceless investment in our family that I am able to be fully present and not worried and stressed by outside pressures as I was before. Thank you so much for giving me that choice, and for always encouraging me to follow my dreams every time God gives me a new one. You keep slaying dragons for us, and I’ll keep the home fires burning. I promise. (Someday, I’ll be a famous author and make up for all the money I’m not making now. No worries.)

My Lord, all the glory goes to You in giving my husband and me unity on this issue! You knew what Your plan was for this family, and You gave us hearts to follow Your leading. You gave my husband the wisdom to plan for a long season of only one income, and you gave me a passion for my family that I didn’t expect even when I joyfully quit my job in preparation for the birth of our little Bennett. I had no idea how much You would grow my heart through this new adventure. I may not make, sell, and supply, but I definitely make, GIVE, and supply! Thank You for creating in me a joyful heart that’s willing to give. (And thank You for the gentle reminders when it’s not so joyful or willing!)

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)
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