Monday, May 20, 2013

Strength and Dignity


Recently I’ve been preparing to speak to a women’s group about the woman of Proverbs 31, a woman who was clothed with strength and dignity. This passage made me think about common images of women today, with all our rights, demands, opportunities and modern ideals, which have many running around like mad women in a tizz with so much to do and never enough time. This is more often an image of the harried, stressed and busy - not a good look; at best tough and successful in worldly terms, but far from the image of strength and dignity.                                                                          
I believe there’s a danger for us, even as writers, to have such a tight schedule of writing, editing, promoting, selling, speaking, along with all the other commitments of our lives, that we can end up being seen by others as overwrought, frustrated and tired.

The difference between a woman of today and the Proverbs 31 woman; this woman who was so praised, and called blessed and a blessing by children and husband, had nothing to do with being rich, nor with a botoxed face and small waist. And it wasn’t that this ancient woman had little to do. She was incredibly productive, professional and acclaimed.
Still, she was not so busy from daylight to dawn that she had no time to stop and speak words of wisdom or kindness, and to pay loving attention to her family.  She seemed to go about her days, weeks and years, with poise, elegance, serenity and planned purpose.

This passage again brought home to me the valuable lessons that we can learn from the past, and especially from the stories and images from scripture.  It also brought to mind an old version of the 23rd Psalm that I think says it all.

The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush. He makes me to stop and rest for quiet intervals. He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity. He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace.                                                                                                                             Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day I will not fret, for His presence is here. His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.                                                                                                                        He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility, my cup of joyous energy overflows.   
 Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours and I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His house forever.    
Toki Miyashina, Psalm 23 for Busy people
Not that the original isn’t also very beautiful, but what an appropriate message for us in the 21st Century!  

Carol Preston 

14 comments:

  1. Thanks, Carol--so many wise comments here! And I just stopped and read that version of the 23rd Psalm quietly and slowly for myself, which was wonderful.

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    1. Wonderful how God gives us just the right thing when preparing for a talk, isn't it? I used to use this years ago in spiritual retreats, and just found it again.

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  2. Thanks Carol. You are right. In this modern world the busier you are the more esteemed you seem to be! Busyness is often equated to productivity. And yet the life God calls us to is so different as you point out wisely.

    I have to admit that that lady in Proverbs 31 seems remarkable - working from early morning till late at night - having lots of time for family and community. A bit daunting to live up to. :)

    It's a great chapter though with many wise words for us - I remember my husband and I reading it during a service when we were newly engaged, laughing at the picture of our future family who would all be dressed in scarlet one day! :)

    Blessings and thanks,
    Anusha

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    1. Yes, she does seem remarkable, Anusha, but I think it's the sense of calm and order that appeals to me most. I think I should have been born in an era when there were far less distractions and I could plan my day and have it run smoothly, without interruption - but that's probably something I'm reading into the passage.

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  3. Yes, we can be pulled in so many directions that life sometimes feels very complex. I never figured out how that Proverbs 31 lady seemed to thrive on such early mornings and late nights. That's a lovely version of Psalm 23.

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    1. I love early mornings, Paula, and late nights are OK too, as long as there's quiet and solitude, which she probably had - no TV, phone etc. Sounds like heaven

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  4. Have you heard the saying 'If you want something done ask a busy person'? That was me. Slowing down has been a learning curve for me, but I can now sit still in the presence of my saviour and rest. Good word Carol.

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  5. Good for you Tracey. I think it takes a lot of learning, practice, and determination to be still, but so worthwhile.

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  6. A good reminder Carol and great translation for today's woman or man. Fits in a little with a blog post I have written for later this week for International Christian Fiction writers.

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  7. Sorry I'm a bit late getting to your blog Carol. Um ... I was too busy the other day? LOL Can certainly relate to what you've said. God has been telling me to slow down for a while and I made some dramatic steps this year to do just that, changing from full-time work to three days a week. I'm still getting into the rhythm of it, but it's great to have that time to reflect, wind down, write, and generally not be so stressed. I really love that version of the 23rd Psalm too. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Nola

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  8. Glad to hear you've cut down on work this year Nola. Am sure it must be lovely to have a bit of time to spend on your passions like writing. And some time to smell the roses. Enjoy it all! :)

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  9. Ah business. I hate feeling busy. It kills my productivity as I can't think straight when I'm under that kind of pressure.

    Proverbs 31 is pretty cool. I'll be honest though, sometimes I think it would be nice if the Bible also included a similar set of guidelines on what it means to be a Godly man :)

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  10. Thanks Nola and Adam. We can all relate to being busy, can't we? I'm always glad for the reminder to slow down too. And I'm sure much of what is said about the woman in Proverbs 31 applies to men, Adam. In fact just before that passage, there is an encouragement to men to be just and upright. Lots of passages and lots of examples are there in the scriptures. We just need to read them over and over to make them sink in.

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  11. Carol if I was American I would be saying "I'm hearing you sister!"

    Sometimes I think the fashion industry should just add a superwoman cape to all women’s outfits and be done with it. We are expected to be everything to everyone in every situation but that is not possible. Thank goodness our identity is elsewhere.

    Blessings,
    Kayleen

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