"She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms."
What is the image that comes to your mind when someone says the words "Christian wife"?
Is your concept of biblical womanhood a cookie-cutter sitcom, or perhaps an abusive, hope-sapped tragedy? Is your vision of a "godly wife" someone who is belittled, undervalued, or set apart as a Victorian doll like Ibsen's Nora? And, when you hear the words "wifely submission," does your mind immediately conjure up thoughts of weakness and degradation?
Try this image on for size: A Godly woman is a strong woman.
And, I don't just mean in a "She's a prayer warrior" sort of way. Take a look at that verse. "She is girt about with strength..." Her whole body is capable, adept, and ready for action. "[S]turdy are her arms." This woman can move mountains, and not just with her prayers.
My downstairs neighbor, a dimunuitive woman who loves to bake her adoring husband pies and take her infant son for walks in the sunshine, often surprises people with the fact that she was a state champion weight lifter in high school not many years ago. I'm not necessarily saying that we all are expected to have that kind of strength (I certainly don't!), but I am saying that this sort of strength does not in anyway diminish my friend's femininity or her standing as a Godly wife and woman in her husband's or anyone else's eyes.
Ladies, why are we so often ashamed of our own capabilities? Of our own strength? Why are we afraid to be what God made us?
Are we worried that our husbands will be respected less if we show our true power? That's not what happened to the husband of the Proverbs 31 wife. His wife was as strong as they come, and he was "prominent at the city gates". He "[sat] with the elders of the land." (Proverbs 31:23). He was the antithesis of disrespected.
Are we worried that we won't appear feminine enough if we are strong? Remember, this lady is the Ideal Wife. The ideal, ladies. The paragon. This is femininity. Psalm 144:12 says that we are built to be pillars! Strength is a part of God's design for his daughters. It is part of His design for you. Your soul was made for strength.
Scripture says that God gave us a spirit of power, not timidity. That's a description of the Spirit at work in all Christians, not just Christian men. We all--not just our brothers--are called to be warriors for Christ. Do you see yourself as a warrior? Well, there are real enemies out there, and Scripture is a real sword and Faith a real shield. You are called to fight the good fight, not merely wait on the sidelines for the men to do all the work and give Him all the glory.
Do you think, perhaps, that strength and submission form a contradiction in terms? You could not be more mistaken. Submission takes strength. As Christ submitted to death on a cross, so we are called to submit to our husbands in all things. If you lay down your life for fear or because you respect your husband more than you respect yourself, then you are not in Godly submission. Submission is an act of the informed, capable, and disciplined will. It is not weakness, and it can never be forced or coerced. Godly submission is always a choice--one that can only be truly made in strength.
Our strength will not prove our men weak; it will make them stronger.
Our strength will not diminish our femininity; it will make women of us.
Our strength will not dishonor God; it will glorify Him.
Our strength will move mountains.
Our strength will unleash the power of God in our midsts.
Today, choose to be who God made you to be: a strong woman, made in His image.
Picture credit: Joan of Arc by Sir John Everett Millais