Right now, my mom has read this title and is upset. She’s currently thinking of a list of 100 reasons why I am wife material and plans to tell me in a very long-winded text (her signature trademark). Don’t worry, mom. I’m not selling myself short here.
I’ve been thinking a ton about the idea of being a wife for a few reasons:
- I make exceptional breakfast foods and would like to make breakfast for two in a pair of cute pajamas.
- I really want a crockpot and can’t justify buying a crockpot if I’m not a wife. It just doesn’t seem right.
- I’m ready for sex. (Chill out. Jesus loves my honesty).
The idea that women were born to be wives is an idea that has been a pillar of the church for, I don’t know, 1 million years now. We spend a lot of time either building each other up or tearing each other down using (what I consider to be) the most annoying scriptural reference in the entire bible: Proverbs 31. Or, as I have referred to it on many occasions, effing Proverbs 31.
I know what many of you are thinking right now: Doesn’t she work at a church? She said she wants sex and now she wrote “Effing” in front of a God-breathed passage?
Relax. Take some anointing oil and give yourself a head massage. It’s gonna be okay. You see, I am fed up with people telling me that I am going to make a great wife. Why? Nowhere in the church have I learned what the function of a wife is supposed to be. Not convinced?
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 makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
I remember reading that passage as a teenager when I had Kissed Dating Goodbye. I was bound and determined to be the best wife that I could possibly be, and nothing would stand in my way. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the Proverbs 31 woman, but ready, in my young mind and naive ambitions, to wife the crap out of someone. I immediately put a plan into motion- a list of goals, if you will- that would accomplish this, starting with the very small task of being married by 22 and having kids by 24.
Unless I am secretly married and have children that I do not know about (which would be undeniably tough), I did not accomplish these goals. I remember around 25 or 26 feeling like a REAL butthead that I had not found someone to wife yet. Maybe I wasn’t organized enough. Was my linen sewing not on point? Did I need work at my trading at the gates? Was I holding the distaff wrong? Should I take out a loan to plant my own vineyard? So many biblical questions, zero answers.
Don’t misunderstand me: I am not on some religious tirade that begins and ends with me attacking the church and blaming them for my misfortune in dating and marriage. I completely, absolutely 100% blame myself for that one.
I will blame, however, all religious sects in the entire history of religion for pushing so hard into little girls minds that their function in life is to be the ultimate wife, the ultimate mom, and ultimately, nothing else.
Is that what I was made for? To be a wife? To be a mom? For some of us, the answer is yes. To be sure, there is no wrong answer. Some of us feel fulfilled by the traditional gender roles, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Those are gifts from God. But what if they’re just that…gifts. What if I was not gifted with the ability to be as good of a wife as the next woman? What if I was not gifted with the ability to mother with patience and servitude? What if I was not gifted with the desire to have 10 kids? What if I only want 2 kids? Or 1 kid? Or no kids?
What if being a wife and being a mom wasn’t built into every woman’s DNA?
This is a statement that has brought about a unified gasp from every church woman that I have ever come into contact with. I have received responses that range from, “You’ll change your mind” to “Satan is inside of you.” When it really comes down to it, I just take a lot of sick, twisted enjoyment out of freaking people out and making them think that I’ve lost my mind or something. But really, let’s think about this. Not every woman is a wife. Not every woman is a mother. Have they failed at life? Have they missed their one purpose? Are they somehow less than another woman at the Bible study because they haven’t yet born children or, can’t bear children or, heavens forbid, don’t want to bear children? Are they wrong, or is our thinking wrong?
Do you want to know what really bothers me about Proverbs 31? I did some research about the origins of Proverbs 31, interested in who wrote it and found this:
Chapter 31 of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible is presented as advice which Lemuel’s mother gave to him, detailing the attributes of a virtuous wife or ideal woman.
Ideal my butt. Anyway, what bugs me, what really grinds at my core, is that this was written for Lemuel (widely believed to be King Solomon) as a sort of guide to finding a good woman. But hey, guess what? Big S had SEVEN HUNDRED wives and THREE HUNDRED concubines. He had 1,000 women that he was sexing up on any given Sunday. My god, think of the child support. #golddigger
So Solomon, with the instruction from his mom on who to choose, with the wisdom that God divinely imparted to him, with King David for a dad who was full of God’s goodness and desire, could not find a Proverbs 31 women. Why?
The Proverbs 31 woman does not exist.
Not only does she not exist, she’s not attainable. And not only is she not attainable, but I don’t want to be her. So maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m not wife material.
If wife material means being perfect all the time and waking up early to sew my kid’s duvet covers and wearing only purple, my least favorite color, then you’re absolutely right. I’m not wife material. But what is wife material, really?
We’re all different. We’re all unique. What I’m good at, you suck at. And what you’re brilliant at, I could not do if a gun was held to my head. I hate baking, but I am a great cook. My BFF hates cooking but loves baking. I am emotional and creative. She is logical and plays by the books. I once lost my Christianity sewing a felt whale that had instructions and was for ages 4 and up, and she sewed an entire curtain to use as a backdrop in her bedroom, just for fun. I am knowledged in the arts and can spend hours in a museum or can whip up a watercolor painting on a whim, and she has zero interest in anything of the such. So with that in mind, which one of us is wife material? And which one isn’t?
Wife material? There’s no such thing.
In society and even at times in the church, we have tried to put all women in this box of what is expected of them. We have told them to act a certain way, respond to their kids a certain way, what’s okay and not okay to feed their families, and to read certain blogs in the effort to be more womanly.
Why have we done this?
Why are we not celebrating the diversity of women and not just expecting women to parent and wife differently, but encouraging it? Do we realize, when we treat women like precut doll shapes, what we are subjecting them to? Women spend hours, days even, comparing themselves to each other. We compare the way we treat our men. We compare the way our men treat us. We compare the way we interact with our kids. We compare the level that we find ourselves in our careers. We compare the quality of food we feed our families. We compare, compare, compare. And nobody has ever told us to stop.
Stop. Stop the comparison. You can’t do it like her because you’re not her. She can’t do it like you because she’s not you. You weren’t made to do that, act like that, or be like that. Your brain wasn’t wired to be creative like that. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with her.
The only thing that’s wrong is the notion that the women of the world, created uniquely and able to offer a slew of different talents and gifts, are all supposed to fit into the same, prewrapped, tiny little box with a purple (gag) bow on it.
So am I Proverbs 31 wife material? Absolutely not. But you know what material I am made out of? Drive. Motivation. Love. Passion. Creativity. Ambition. Strength. Tenderness. Bravery. Spunk. Compassion. Honesty. Excitement.
And the right man, or the right job, or the right people will see that material, and they will want it. I’m not wife material. I am made out of exquisite material that will one day help clothe me to be a wonderful wife. But whether or not I ever become a wife, a mom, or a CEO, I will have those things sewn into the very depths of my soul. They are mine.