Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Proverbs 31 Ponderings {The dutiful seamstress?}

It's been a looooong while since I started looking at the Proverbs 31 woman, but, to be fair, I *DID* say that I was not going to promise with what regularity the posts were to be delivered!  I have decided I need to come back to looking at her, having been pondering it myself, for various reasons.

We come in our look at the Proverbs 31 woman, to some areas that may cast fear into the souls of some women.

They do, that is, if you take every single word in literally, and think you have to obey it to the letter.

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."
verse 13

Some of you are going to see the words "wool, flax and hands", and run to the hills - as far as you can get from the nearest wool shop or haberdashery.  The words "knit, crochet and sew", cast fear into your very soul.

"PLEASE don't tell me I have to start making my own clothes... PLEASE?", I may hear you plead.

However, fear not!!!  I do NOT believe that this is the spirit of what this verse is going to teach us.  

We do NOT live in Israel, sometime in the BCs, or even the early ADs.  We live firmly planted in modern day Britain, (ok, modern day SOMEWHERE) in 2013.  We live in the land of Debenhams, of H&M and of Next. (Department stores, US folks...department stores)  

You're getting my drift, right?  We don't make our own clothes any more, on the whole.  Some still do, but it's not for lack of possible places to buy them from.  Our world is full of places to buy clothes from.  I do believe, that for those of us who like to dress our girls in skirts, and modest ones at that, that it is becoming increasingly harder to FIND any that are pretty and modest.  I am actually intending to get my sewing machine into use, and start making or adapting other skirts, to be more like how we prefer them to be.  (My newly created sewing corner of my kitchen will be another blog post of its own!....)

However, the spirit of this verse, I believe, is not necessarily to do with making things yourself.  There are many ladies who I admire greatly, because they are able to so capably make a skirt, or sew some other marvel.  Contrary to what many may think, there is nowhere in the Bible that tells you that you are a sinner, or even some kind of second-grade housewife, if you don't make your own clothes.  There can be a lot of pressure given and felt, when you see what amazing things other ladies can do.  You can perhaps feel that you are not up to scratch if you don't even try.  But, we need to be careful not to be legalistic, especially when we are not even COMMANDED to do such a thing!

However, it does not mean that this verse is not of any importance to us, or there is nothing to learn from it.

You are about to get a mini grammar lesson here, so brace yourself! It's the verbs and the adverb that we need to focus on.  THEY tell us the meaning of this verse for us modern-day women.

"seeketh"             "worketh"          "willingly"

(For those who are not sure, the first two are verbs and the third is an adverb! *wink* )

"Seeking", "working" and "being willing" are concepts that stand alone, and are applicable to us today.

First we have the WHAT we have to do.  We need to hunt down, and work to find the clothing that our household needs. If you have ever looked for modest clothing, I am sure you understand how much looking and working it requires to find the clothes we need!  No matter what your standards of clothing, it takes EFFORT to find clothing.  Whatever your search parameters are, you need to put effort into finding thr type of clothes worn in your household.  Maybe you are driven, through necessity, to buy clothes cheaply.  It's certainly an issue that we have to think about in our family, clothing so many! (Although, we hand down a lot, but that's another story....) If that is the case, the seeking may require going to charity shops or looking on ebay! I have a friend, Lydia, who, to me, is the Queen of charity shopping and ebay.  She regularly gets some brilliant deals, and I long to be as good a shopper as she is! I *DID* manage to get a skirt for Abi for just 50p on ebay the other week.  I know that shipping has become more expensive, but as I live in the middle of nowhere, it's still worth it for me. When I consider that the shops are simply not selling what I am looking for AT ALL, then I am willing to pay what it costs to buy it.

Then, there is the heart issue dealt with in the adverb.  HOW we do it.  "Willingly".  We need to be a wife and mother that is WILLING to manage our resources well.  We need to care about being faithful stewards of our money, and about what our family is wearing. I will deal more with the details of that concept when we get further down the chapter. We need to be willing to put in the effort to clothe our family, rather than have them running around in ripped, dirty, old and tatty clothes.  It may take effort, but there is no reason, in this day and age of those who cast off things so quickly, to not find things that look reasonable and well kept. I actually believe it can be a poor testimony to us, as Christians, if we do not look after our family's clothing.

Maybe your working willingly with your hands is typing words into a search engine, to find the right clothes, for the right price, for your own situation!??

This working can also include mending things. I have endlessly mended ripped and torn clothing - taken up hems - sewn on buttons.  We have to be willing to keep our clothing looking smart and presentable. Again, it's not a good testimony to look like we don't care about the things that are in our possession. Whatever we do, should be to God's glory.  I believe we glorify Him by not looking like tramps! Plus, as we can see from this chapter, how we dress DOES matter. Again, I will deal with this more at a later date.

So, there you see.  You don't have to worry about skirting (HA!!) around this verse, because you are worried that you are expected to become a professional seamstress.  It's more about making sure we clothe our family well, than HOW we do it.  If you want to make everything yourself - carry on!! Just don't expect me to do it, too!

Please feel free to chime in on the comments, if you have your own perspective on this verse.


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