This is another blog post in a series reviewing Rachel Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. (Here are the other blogs, if you want to have a look: Three-Thousand-Year-Old Inferiority Complex, Girl Gone Mild, Martha Stewart Theology, Obedience: My Husband, My Master, and Bird’s Eye View of Rachel Evans’ Book.)
Evans begins her year of hell, I mean, year of Biblical womanhood in October, so by January, she’s learned a thing or two about “Biblical” womanhood. In this chapter “Valor: Will the Real Proverbs 31 Woman Please Stand Up?” Evans writes,
An empire of books, conferences, products, and media has evolved from a subtle repositioning of the [Proverbs 31] poem’s intended audience from that of men to that of women. One of the more popular books is titled Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90 Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 Life. No longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it.
Evans puts herself in the shoes of a woman who takes Proverbs 31 in this a way and creates a to-do list, which includes, but is definitely not limited to getting up before dawn, avoiding “idleness” like TV, Facebook, and Twitter, and working until 9:00 pm. She learns to sew, praises her husband Dan “at the city gate,” and volunteers at a health clinic.
Evans writes her frustrations in such a cartoonishly funny way that reader’s can’t help but laugh along. For example, she writes,
There seems to be a universal consensus among people of faith that God is a morning person. The Dalai Lama rises at 3:30 am to meditate… my Proverbs 31 morning routine went something like this: wake up, make coffee, choose a centering word for meditation, fall back asleep, wake up again, feel guilty, drink coffee, lift my five-pound weights for three minutes, practice knitting, give up, write.
One very interesting tidbit I learn from this chapter is that orthodox Jewish husbands memorize Proverbs 31 so that “they can recite [the poem] to their wives at the Sabbath meal, usually in song.” (Eshet Chayil) How romantic! This puts an entirely different spin on that to-do list approach. The husbands apparently do this in front of everyone who has been invited into their home for the Sabbath celebration. Evan’s husband Dan said, “It’s like their version of ‘You go, girl!'”
Spouses should praise one another. It really helps the strength of a marriage to know that your spouse thinks highly of you. And this concept applies outside of marriage as well. Think about it. When was the last time you bragged about someone else’s accomplishments? Hopefully it hasn’t been long. You don’t have to take it to extremes (see the photo below), just a few words go a long way.