Why do we hate 'perfect' women?
This is the question I woke up pondering this morning, as I wondered what to blog about. It does seem to me that we're in a culture of women that stand alert, ready to spring on a girl that rises above the rest, that seems to have it altogether, ready to analyse her, to tear her apart, to 'expose' her for who she truly is. I see it all the time with celebrities (the more beautiful they are, the more we love to hear rumours about them) and even with royalty (like this lady who compared Kate Middleton to a 'shop window mannequin' - because apparently, doing charity work, being a warm and friendly person and being beautiful is just too much perfection for people to take).
Do men have this problem? Do men see a successful, handsome, noble kind of man and think 'Woah, I hate that guy'? I get the impression it's more of a problem for women.
When I first became a Christian, I encountered a lady I didn't like very much. The Proverbs 31 woman. I read the passage with a kind of mixture of awe, jealousy and cynicism. As in, 'Wow, that woman is perfect! I kind of hate her. But hey, she's probably not even a real woman. And even if she is real, you can't live up to those sorts of standards nowadays anyway. Not working women. We're just too busy.'
Joyce Meyer puts it better than me in her book, The Confident Woman (which, as an aside, is a very good book) in the chapter called 'The Woman I Did Not Like': 'Who can compete with the woman described in Proverbs 31? This woman can do it all; she cooks, she sews - what she doesn't seem to do is get tired! She seems absolutely perfect. Maybe that's why my first response after reading about her was "I don't like you."'
The seventeen year old newly Christian me felt exactly the same way. This morning, for example, has been a good morning: I got showered, dressed and ready without tripping over something/getting shampoo in my eyes/staring numbly into the distance trying to wake up, my lunch is already made (yesterday's leftovers) and now I'm blogging. It's a perfect morning! I'm like a miracle woman ;)
And yet I haven't gotten up when it's dark to prepare for my day ... I haven't planned for my family ... I don't sew beautiful garments for the people I love or make lovely bed linen for them ... I don't buy vineyards with my money. So how is this passage relevant?
I'm being silly, of course, because it's obviously relevant, whether the younger me liked it or not. Look at this:
'She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for the task.' - This essentially means, whatever she puts her hand to, she goes for it 100%. She doesn't moan or complain - she gets on with things, and she does things with enthusiasm. Can I do that? Er, yes.
'She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.' She's wise with money and considers carefully what she buys. Can I do that? Definitely. (Do I do that? Is another question altogether).
'She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy.' Well, obviously I could do more of that.
''She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.' She watches what she says. I do that. Sometimes.
'She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.' She's not lazy - I don't have to be lazy, either. That doesn't mean I can't rest - it means that I don't have to waste time.
It makes me smile looking back, because I realise how much God has changed me. There is no such thing as a perfect woman, or a perfect Christian. I had the revelation a little while back of how much time I've wasted comparing ... wondering how some Christians have it all together, how they understand huge spiritual concepts with ease, how they sound so confident in prayer, how they react gracefully to every situation.
I've realised over time that the key there is grace. God is good enough, when I venture out in faith to try and be better, to teach me how to do these things. He is slowly softening and changing my heart and my ways.
So it's nice this morning to re-focus on that Proverbs 31 woman, and not see her, and so-called 'perfect' Christians, as enemies. It's nice to see her as a woman that has been moulded by God ... and to see myself as a woman on that journey too.