Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Women of Valor March 26, 2013

I don’t know about you, but every time I read Proverbs 31, I feel tired. Maybe a little incredulous too (Seriously? This woman wakes up early, stays up late, weaves blankets, cooks, works outside the home, helps the needy, makes savvy business deals, wears a purple dress she made herself, and then probably posts it all on Pinterest? Who is this woman?).

 

Mostly, though, I just feel weary. And then I skip over to the next book in the Bible (Ecclesiastes) to remind myself that everything is meaningless anyway.

 

But I’m currently reading The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, and she has given me a new perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman.

rachel1

Apparently this chapter was written as an acrostic poem, intended as an ode to honor women, not a bunch of to-dos. In Jewish culture, this wasn’t a checklist for women to strive for; instead, men praised women with the phrase “Eshet Chayil” (“Woman of Valor”), taken from the first line of the poem.

 

In other words, this depiction isn’t intended to describe one woman, and it certainly isn’t meant to capture a single day of her life. Rather, it’s a shout-out to all women.

So today I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of you women of valor out there. I see you, and I honor you.

 

You give of yourself—your talents, your time, your tears—and usually do it without getting much thanks. Eshet Chayil!

 

You wipe bottoms and blow noses and get up in the middle of the night. Eshet Chayil!

 

You work inside your home and outside your home, in your career and in your kitchen and in your relationships, and my guess is that you’re tired. Eshet Chayil!

 

You are fierce in your love, zealous in your protection, tenacious in your prayers. Eshet Chayil!

 

You hug well, you comfort well, you bring life and goodness and joy. Eshet Chayil!

mom and me

You don’t know it, but you shine. So here’s to you, you Woman of Valor! Eshet Chayil!

 

***

P.S. A special Eshet Chayil to my mom, Cindy, who just celebrated her birthday. Mom, you showed me when to stand up for myself and when to stay on my knees. You showed me how to how to make homemade snickerdoodle cookies and when to rip open a box of Keeblers. You taught me that sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. You showed me how to follow through, how to clean an oven, how to knit a family together, how to giggle on waterslides, and how to fall in love with God’s Word. No woman fulfills the entire Proverbs 31 picture, but I have to say that you come pretty close. Happy Birthday, Mom of Valor!

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Tuesday’s Child June 19, 2012

Filed under: Proverbs — Stephanie Rische @ 8:11 am
Tags: , ,

When I was little, I was secretly envious of my sister. Not because she grew up eating ice cream on a regular basis or because she got to stay up late and play bridge with Mom and “the ladies” while I was in bed. No, it was all because of the day of her birth.

Meghan was born on a Friday, and according to the little nursery rhyme, that meant she was “loving and giving.” And here’s the thing: she was. Even from a young age, we had to keep a close eye on her piggy bank because she was liable to hand the whole thing over to the nearest person she deemed in need.

I was born on a Tuesday, which allegedly meant I was “full of grace.” At age ten, I took that to mean I made elegant, ballet-like movements. And while it’s true that I was enrolled in gymnastics, I had kicked way too many people while doing cartwheels in the hallway for anyone to believe there was anything akin to grace happening there. But being loving and giving—now that felt like something a little more practical.

I was watching the trials for the Olympics the other day, and I was struck by the undeniable grace of the divers in the platform event. As I watched, it hit me that maybe physical grace and spiritual grace have more in common than I realized. In both cases, whether you’re diving off the high dive or forgiving someone who has wronged you, there’s a kind of apparent effortlessness to it.

Although the one doing the gracing knows how many bruises and tears have brought them to this point, the spectators only see something beautiful. For an action to be truly graceful, there can’t be a sense of “Look at me!” or “Hey, everyone, check out how hard this is!” No, to be “full of grace” is to do something hard and make it look easy.

As with diving, grace-giving can feel a lot like standing on a 33-foot ledge, looking down into the swirling water below. That is to say, terrifying. And neither of these Olympic tasks happens automatically—they both require a lot of practice. But grace is worth the effort. It is so extraordinary, so compelling, that the watching world takes note when it happens.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this little proverb lately—so simple, but definitely not easy:

A gracious woman gains respect.

—Proverbs 11:16

So today I want to put my toes right up to the ledge and dive headfirst into grace. I’ll never be a platform diver, but with a little practice, I just may start looking more like the Tuesday’s child I was intended to be.

I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.