In yesterday’s video, I mentioned how I have always loved Proverbs 31. Even before I read the Bible, I knew these verses and wanted to be this woman. If you haven’t read Proverbs 31: 10-31, here it is.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 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. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
I know many women get discouraged reading about this woman because she seems impossible. But I did not get discouraged, I loved the idea of striving to be this woman. I loved the idea of getting up early and working hard for the household. I even made a point to pray Proverbs 31 to the Lord on the third of each month! (I can’t remember why I picked the third. Hmm.)
All was going well. I woke up early each morning while it was still dark. I got my workout in (making my arms strong), I made found joy in cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and cooking for the family. Now I just needed a career. I am a stay at home mom but the Proverbs 31 woman was buying a field and planting a vineyard. I needed to bring in an income! So when my friend asked me to join her network marketing business I said yes! This was the answer to my Proverbs 31 prayer! I was now complete. I was living the Proverbs 31 life!
…until it all fell apart.
I had my daughter, Anna, in September of 2016. I was on a high. I had lost my baby weight fast and was working my business well. I was still taking pride in handling the household affairs and bringing in income as well! When I saw the financial potential of the business, I made a vision board. I put my goal on it as well as a bunch of Bible verses that I knew would keep my mind right even though I was going to be highly successful. You know what they say about the rich man and the Kingdom of Heaven, that was not going to be me. I had no reason to think that I wasn’t going to be successful. The stars were all aligned. I had committed my work to the Lord. Of course, I was going to do well all for His glory! I still have that vision board. I think I will keep it forever. I don’t know how I would ever forget what happened after I made it but I keep it just because of all the things it brings to mind when I see it.
When Anna was seven months old, I was struck with a case of postpartum depression and anxiety that you wouldn’t believe. Seriously, it was like someone just pulled the rug right out from under me! I was struck with terrorizing images and thoughts rendering me paralyzed. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat (which is saying something). I couldn’t think. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t speak on many occasions. Everyday conversations always seemed to end up in tears. To someone looking in, nothing was wrong with my life. But inside my mind, I was living a nightmare both in my waking hours and in my dreams. My hands were constantly shaking. I couldn’t get through a shower without feeling like my legs were going to give out. I had to pull over on the side of the road to let the heart attack feeling pass. I was constantly having panic attacks and even called the police once because I thought I was dying!
Needless to say, all of the things that I had taken pride in before were no longer. I was barely even able to do the basic things a wife and mom are supposed to. I slept as long as the kids would let me. The house was a wreck. Many meals were ordered in. I quit the network marketing business. I was exhausted and honestly, life seemed like too much effort to live at the time.
So what happened? Wasn’t God supposed to bless my endeavors because I submitted them to him?
He answered my prayers over my vision board perfectly. He just didn’t answer them at all the way that I thought He would. But His way was much much better.
Here are the verses on my vision board that I prayed to God. I will tell what I was thinking when I prayed them and then I will tell what God actually answered with.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Why I prayed this: I knew that I was going to be BUSY. In my mind, I was going to be so busy managing the household and running my business that I would need to remind myself to read the Bible.
God’s answer: The Bible is His words to me. It’s how He speaks to us. How could I have thought so little of it? When everything fell apart and I was left with so many questions as to what went wrong, I was forced to finally read the Bible to hopefully find some answers. I learned that the Bible isn’t something that I should have to remind myself to take time for. It is top priority. Thank you, Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Why I prayed this: Not only did I want to work hard to be successful in my business but my particular business was a fitness business. I have a history of eating disorders so I knew I would need God to help me stay healthy in the fitness industry. I knew God would help me. I mean, my vision board was Bible verses! I even remember telling God “You know my heart.” thinking that my heart was right. He knew my heart alright.
God’s answer: Even though I thought that I was doing all of this to the glory of God, I wasn’t. When I was hit with an anxiety disorder and everything fell apart, my heart came out. I was utterly disgusted by it. Thank you, Lord.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Why I prayed this: When I first read this verse, it hit me how crucial our role as wife and mother is. Of course, I needed to remember this. I didn’t want to get distracted and end up being the woman that tears her house down with her bare hands!
God’s answer: I have no power to build my house. The only hope for them is God. He is the vine and I am the branch. What good am I alone? No good at all.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Why I prayed this: I knew that I wanted to love my family and my customers. I thought that my heart was right in this. Again, I was wrong!
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
God’s answer: God is love. I hate even typing this but I didn’t love God. I loved what God could do for me. So how could I love others? I didn’t even know what love was.
(Cue Forrest Gump quotes)
But in all seriousness, my heart was not at all right like I thought it was. Thank you, Lord for showing me this.
Proverbs 31: 26-27
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.
Why I prayed this: Honestly I felt I didn’t even need to pray verse twenty-seven (She watched over the affairs of her household…). I had that down to a science! But I could always use more wisdom right?
God’s answer: I have no control. Something could happen at the drop of a pin and ruin everything I have accomplished. As for wisdom, I was scared out of my wits by the nightmares in my mind. As I read the Old Testament and my eyes were opened to the sovereignty of God I was scared to death of Him! I had thought the Bible was supposed to make me feel better but I was feeling much MUCH worse. This was extremely necessary.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
Ugh, you can probably guess how happy I was to read the New Testament. Thank you thank you, Jesus!
Proverbs 31: 16
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. Proverbs 9:10
Why I prayed this: I remember I kept thinking of the Proverbs 31 vineyard and thinking that I needed to be successful in my endeavors if this was all going to work out. Out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. So I would earn money by working my business and then buy something to show for it in the end.
What I think God’s answer was: Look, remember to be a Berean when reading my blog. I am no Bible teacher, I am just sharing my experiences and things that I learn. But I really think that the vineyard is the harvest that happened inside of me when God opened my eyes to my horrible sin and showed me how desperately I need a Saviour and how loving He is to have sent me one! Seriously! I cannot tell you how different I am since these discoveries. I am truly a new person. When I look back to the old me, I can’t believe that was me! But it was and I am just in awe of what God has done for me and in me.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20
Why I prayed this: I knew the Lord was going to help me succeed. I just knew it! So the least I could do was give back.
God’s answer: My heart was not right. I was doing it all for me and my glory not for God even though I told myself I was. Again, I am only the branch. I was striving to succeed without the vine. I was striving to love without even knowing love! Obviously this was a failure before it even began.
So now what?
I am unfinished. But I am eternally thankful for God’s love. Who loves like God? To see me, the indulgent, self-absorbed, self-righteous, fool, and to love me and send His son to die in my place. Who loves like God? When I see these fools like me, I don’t even want to stand next to them. But God dwells in this fool’s heart. He blesses me by letting me do good works for Him that He prepared in advance for me to do! Who loves like God?
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
So now what?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8