Happy International Women's Day
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Some countries have held similar observances for over a century. However, in 1975 the United Nations invited countries around the world to recognize March 8 of each year to raise awareness for women’s rights. This year, the day was marked by proclamations, protests, and praise all around the world. I want to use the occasion to encourage all of us, male or female, to be more intentional and consistent in the way we honor and give thanks for the excellent women in our lives…not just on special days, but everyday.
Solomon understood this and gave us an excellent example of how it should be done. In Proverbs 31, he took the initiative to give a detailed description of the attributes of a woman he was thankful for. I am of the opinion that he was describing his mother, Bathsheba…but that is beside the point. What isn’t obvious in the English translation is this is an acrostic poem. Beginning in with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph), he went through every letter and used a word to describe this woman. Starting with verse 10, he states how this woman is excellent from “A to Z” (actually “aleph to tav”…but you get my point). This is actually a challenging undertaking. Can you imagine coming up with a commendation that starts with the letters “Q” or “Z”?
What I think many people miss when they read this chapter is the fact that Solomon is describing a specific woman, rather than describing a standard that all women should aspire to. This is not a description of what all virtuous women must be like. This is a description of what one, very particular, virtuous woman was like. He is not saying that every woman should find a field, buy it, and plant a vineyard (v16)…but I think this woman did. Were this poem to be written about someone else, I think it would be filled with entirely different descriptions. Virtuous women may have some similarities, but they are as unique as snowflakes in most ways. As much as I might encourage any woman to seek virtue and to emulate this woman in some ways, no woman is called to be just like her! What Solomon did in this passage was show us a good example of how we should honor the excellent women in our lives, and be thankful to God for them.
If you have an excellent woman in your life, I would encourage you to seek out opportunities to express that appreciation. It doesn’t have to be on a special day. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a poem (thank God!). But it should be consistent, intentional, and done with gratitude to God. In fact, I would encourage you to make a habit of communicating your appreciation consistently, without waiting for special occasions. And for that matter, do it to everyone you can and not just special women. A lifestyle of thankfulness, to both God and others, will have a transformative effect on you as much as it blesses others.