Pinterest and the Proverbs 31 woman

Like most people I know, I made fun of Pinterest before discovering its usefulness. After all, if you’re going to spend a few hours on the internet, Pinterest wouldn’t be the worst choice. Most times I scroll through my feed, I learn something new.

Still, Pinterest has demonstrated a unique ability to make women feel inadequate. Let’s consider what would happen if I accepted the manicured reality that Pinterest serves me each time I log in. I’d be under the impression that most other women spend their days sporting buoyant curls and cute heels while chasing after absurdly fashionable children, stopping on occasion to bake a peanut butter truffle cheesecake or build an authentic farmhouse table. And don’t even get me started on those weddings…

While musing on the mythical creature that is The Pinterest Wife, Proverbs 31 came to my mind. Perhaps the most referenced passage when seeking to understand biblical womanhood, Proverbs 31:10-31 is a piece of poetry dwelling on the attributes of “a wife of noble character.” I remember reading this passage in college, and even though the first line points to the woman’s inner self, I imagined her much as I now imagine The Pinterest Wife – a woman who can do everything, whose identity seems suspiciously tied to her status as wife and mother.

Today, I want us to shift our focus. I want us to consider what it really means to be a free and fabulous woman. And I think Proverbs 31 can help guide us there. Read the following, but do not focus on what the woman does. Instead, ask yourself: what is in this woman’s heart as she goes about her day?

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.
 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.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Here, I see a woman who works hard because her heart is full of love and hope. Love for her husband and children, yes, but also for the unwanted and oppressed. Hope because she knows God and reveres Him enough to also trust Him with her future. She does not waste her time with things that don’t matter (though we must remember that as an Israelite, she would have honored the Sabbath and taken time to rest). This woman has servants and yet seeks to serve them herself. She has callused hands, sore feet, stretch marks – but most importantly, love for someone beyond herself.

Consider the poem’s concluding verses: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised….”

What are you seeking? Can it be sustained? Take a few minutes to journal about your motivations when you use Pinterest (or read Cosmo, etc.). Yes, we all know the difference between Pinterest photos and messy reality, but just as we laugh at these mythical women, we must ask ourselves how such images of “perfection” really influence us. When you dream of your future self, what do you notice about her? How she looks?…how her house looks?…or how she honors God?

Now let’s try something. Go to Pinterest. (Or your women’s website of choice.) As you scroll through the pretty photos, mom blogs, and cat memes, talk with God. Pray that He would be with you and guiding your thoughts as you consume social media. This is my prayer for us – that in the middle of a generation who seeks to find gratification through social media, we would instead seek God’s purpose. May we go about this week with charm, poise, and beauty, all the while counting these as nothing when set beside the love of God.

With love and hope,

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