Friday, February 15, 2013

Virtuous Wife's Guide to Being Single (Why I'm Counting to 31)

It begins with a jolt with the first “Yikes-I-went-to-high-school-with-you-and-now-you’re-planning-your-wedding” moment. And from there the feeling just continues to accumulate. For some it’s a minor nagging, while for others it reaches desperation. The noble “I’m just praying he comes into my life when the time is right” attitude can be far too easily exchanged for “There must be something wrong with me! I’ll never get married!”

I’m young, and I have years before I have to start thinking about marriage. But that’s exactly why I should be thinking about marriage. This post is my attempt to explain the purpose behind this blog: to be a record and a resource supporting gradual growth toward Proverbs 31 ideal. In thinking about marriage from so far afield, I can do so much to strengthen my future marriage and to better myself as a prospective wife that would be nearly impossible were I already engaged or married.

I will admit that I’ve had many of those thoughts I described in the first paragraph, but I’m certainly not pining away daydreaming of Mr. Right. God has put each of us in this position at this stage of our lives for a reason. We have so much to learn, and He knows exactly how each of us can best learn it. Life is so big, so full of opportunities, and there is great joy or great growth (or, preferably, both!) in every experience. So now is the time to have as many growing experiences as possible!

The Wife of Valor (as I like to call her, per my Bible margin) in Proverbs 31 was not always married, you know. From the picture of her marriage, there’s an incredible amount to be learned about how we should spend our single lives! Here’s my list:
  1. Making decisions about what you want your future husband to be like. Not only is our virtuous woman an absolute baller, it’s pretty obvious that her husband is, as well. She chose well! Not just any guy off the street was fit to marry this lady. He is “respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23, NIV). The city gates were the center of public life. They were the location for legal tribunals and kingly addresses, among other things (see here for more on this). For him to be seated there among the elders is certainly a high honor, and a sign that both he and his wife are highly esteemed. The way he treats her is also beautiful. He “safely trusts her” (v. 11) and gives her the highest praise: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all” (v. 29). As godly young women aspiring to the high standard that Mrs. Virtue sets, we should also set high standards for our future husbands. God wants to give you Mr. Virtue! Don’t settle for anything less.
  2. Learning important life skills. The virtuous wife didn’t magically know how to cook (v. 14-15), spin (v. 19), or make tapestry, clothing, clothing, and sashes (v. 22-24) when she got home from the honeymoon. From her extensive list of abilities, I would guess she spent a good portion of her life learning them. But of course, it’s never too late to start learning! Her extensive skill set includes hospitality, cooking, making clothing, and financial sense. I’ve chosen some similar abilities to work on, as you can see looking around this blog. She is also active in caring for the needy in her community (v. 20). Service is an incredibly rewarding way to spend time. Especially as a young person without my own family to care for, serving can provide the wonderful feeling of being needed. It’s also great practice in building the patience, tenderness, and outgoing love that are so necessary in a familial environment.
  3. Most importantly, building a strong relationship with God and building spiritual character. The Wife of Valor is not only smart, savvy, and industrious, she is wise, kind, and she fears God. She knows God personally and highly respects Him, and cares for her family in the way He designed her to. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household… Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (v. 26-27, 30). Her husband and her children can see the evidence of her relationship with God, and because of it they “rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28). Who wouldn’t want to hear that kind of praise from her children? Certainly once we are married and have children, we will have many more “opportunities for growth” in these areas, but wouldn’t it be great to have a headstart on dealing with the difficulties of marriage and parenting? Building from the ground up with a healthy, vibrant relationship with God, we can begin to develop the emotional, spiritual, and social characteristics of the virtuous woman.
  4. Having faith in God’s goodness and wisdom, that even if you are not married in this life He can and will provide so much more for you, both in this life and the life to come.

One of the Bible versions I was reading from (the NIV) stuck in the title “Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character” before this section of Proverbs 31. Certainly, after all the verses recording Solomon’s warnings to young men about women, this is a fitting epilogue! It offers great encouragement along with lofty goals to work toward.

What would you add to this list?

6 comments:

  1. Wonderful article!

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  2. Your on the right track our dear Erica. Your Mama is a good example of preparing for marriage as a Proverbs 31 bride. May you follow in her steps as you set your goals.You will reach them.Real good article.

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    1. Thank you Grandma! My mom certainly is a great example for me, and she had a great example to learn from herself! Love you!

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  3. Another life skill I can think of is learning how to be friends with other people. Learn how to plan events, compromise, sustain a friendship over long distances, and get along when you disagree. You can learn this at work, or with family, or with a good friend, or any time you have to work with other people toward a common goal, really. Relationship skills are something it takes a whole life to produce.
    Well written article.

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    1. This is such a great point! Thanks for sharing!

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