This is one of a series of posts illustrating a beautiful portrait of humanity; of men and women who without even realizing it, strive to embody qualities Proverbs 31 embraces in all life areas– personally, with their family, professionally, spiritually, and in their love life too. Whether you’re a “Proverbs 31” man or a woman, you stand out from the rest; you’re a red rose among a field of yellow roses. You’re a man or woman of and for all ages, a role model of timeless strength and beauty, virtue and responsibility; a cherished life partner and a powerful entrepreneur too!
She seeketh wool and flax and worketh willingly with her hands
In addition to caring for their home, life partner, and family, the Proverbs 31 individual is also a successful entrepreneur. In fact, s/he serves as an inspiration to other individuals as s/he is living a life that many only hope to one day… s/he is living his or her life purpose. S/he takes a huge risk in starting a home-based business designing and manufacturing clothing. Over time though s/he proves to be so successful that she eventually purchases real estate and builds a factory on it!
As the first line of Proverbs 31:13 indicates, “She seeketh wool and flax” as two basic materials for making clothes and garments for her household and for her business. Wool, as you know, is the curly undercoat of a sheep, which is woven into a warm garment or fabric. For example, today we wear wool sweaters or mittens to protect us from the cold. Flax is a fibrous plant. When its fiber is pulled and twisted into yarn or thread during the spinning process, the result is a fine linen from which a variety of garments and materials, such as coarse canvas, rugged sails for ships, as well as thin, delicate scarves, may be produced.
As the second line of Proverbs 31:13 indicates, “and worketh willingly with her hands.” I have to admit I found myself focused on the word, “willingly.” Nowadays, that word often has a negative connotation, being synonymous with”unenthusiastic consent.” For example, “oh ok, I will wash the dishes if I REALLY have to.” Yet work does not need to be viewed as boring or tedious. We in fact have a choice as to how we choose to view our work.The Proverbs 31 individual not only chooses to be cheerful and ready to work, but also derives much pleasure in working with her hands. As a result, her work is a source of great satisfaction. How refreshing this is!
For me, this verse is particularly meaningful as it also reminds me of how we have lost the fine art of working with our hands over time be it for calligraphy, sewing, stained glass painting, woodworking, or something else. Thanks to the computer age, we no longer seek or find pleasure in receiving homemade items or in creating things with our own hands. For example, rather than finding pleasure in making our own clothes, we now find delight in shopping for clothes at the local mall, often adversely affecting the family budget. Rather than sharing our gifts and talents with other family members, parents are connected to their computers, while children are often glued to a television show or to the latest video game – all without sharing quality time or meaningful conversation. What is most unfortunate though is that many talents are never developed or passed on. Mothers never learn how to cook, sew, knit, or crochet much less pass on those skills to their children. The same holds true for fathers who never learn how to fix things around the house, woodwork, work on cars, or manage family finances. As a result, these skills are never passed on from one generation to the next. An entire generation living without ever knowing or experiencing the true pleasure in working with their hands … even when the desire may be there!
And there is great pleasure derived … not only in working with one’s hands, but also in sharing the experience with others. I remember as a child watching my mother spend hours in the kitchen baking French pastries, or in the Master bedroom at her sewing machine making a costume for a play or a new outfit for an upcoming family portrait. I have fond memories of my uncle repairing a lamp at the kitchen table and my grandfather in the backyard taking delight in the beautiful rose garden he started when he and my grandmother lived in the home my family now occupied. Many beautiful crafts are now becoming a lost art.
I also recall my mother playing host to all the neighborhood kids in our backyard, joining us on the swing and serving refreshments. I also remember her being involved in the neighborhood Mother’s Club, where all the local mothers got together by day to exchange talents and by night to socialize. The neighborhood seamstress would exchange her talents with the neighborhood pastry chef while the local gardener would exchange her talents with the local artist. Nowadays, many social connections are lost in favor of staying in and staying to ourselves. Never venturing out beyond our comfort zone, many talents remain hidden not only from friends, but from family members too.
Amidst tough economic times though we have a wonderful opportunity to expand our influence and our ministry as well as to reconnect with our family, friends, and more. The time is right to return to our roots; to shop for bargains, to use resources wisely, and to find pleasure in simple things… including in working with our hands once more. And when we do, we not only have a chance to develop our God-given talents, but we also have the opportunity to reconnect with others and to pass our craft onto a future generation. What legacy do you wish to pass on?
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my community, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.