She Walks in Black and White

Do you find ambiguity frustrating? As a 1 on the Enneagram, I enjoy some good old-fashioned dichotomies: the solid world of black-and-white truth. Sometimes life doesn’t allow for that, but if you gather up the bunches of Scripture that pertain to a girl who trusts God, you’ll discover there’s a pleasant clarity about what kind of character she cultivates. Remember, as we’ve been dwelling on the Proverbs 31 woman, we’ve sunk our teeth into the fact that she’s not someone to be copied so much as emulated. There are a thousand different ways of each attribute working itself out.

This kind of black-and-white seeing, though, holds a certain danger—it makes deceiving yourself rather difficult. For instance, if I had only a fuzzy notion that a woman of God fosters happy feelings (note the vague, broad, general concept), I don’t have to get so convicted about specific kinds of thought processes like worry or fear or idolatry. As soon as I crystallize an aspect of her heart, though (e.g., self-control), I am faced with evaluating my own level of discipline and might be less than enamored with what I learn. The more pointed a trait, the more potential for its lack to be noticed. I must confess that quite a few of the following marks are missing in my own life. I invite you to be kind but honest with yourself as you read through the list and assess where you are on each. If you don’t say “ouch” at least once, you either need to ask the Lord to humble you as you re-read it or you need to mentor every woman ever because you are pretty darn close to perfect.

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Is not / Is

self-powered / Spirit-powered

self-absorbed / loving

selfish / generous

stagnant / growing

harsh / gentle

boring / vibrant

cranky / joyful

entitled / grateful

bitter / forgiving

apathetic / energetic

judgmental / compassionate

frenzied / thoughtful

small-minded / creative

small-hearted / open

insecure / confident

common / precious

conceited / humble

fearful / faithful

guilt-ridden / free

seductive / pure

aloof / relational

manipulative / trustworthy

pretentious / authentic

lazy / productive

foolish / wise

controlling / peaceful

easily upset / patient

perfect / redeemed

We don’t find our identity in how much of this list we fall on the right side of. Where I am cranky, Christ is joyful on my behalf. My fear is covered by His perfect faith. Being completely embodied by each of these 28 virtues is not what we cling to for our righteousness. The goal is that as we cling to Jesus as our righteousness, we would begin seeing our lives transformed from the left to the right as a natural outflow of His work in us.

Rather than viewing this as an overwhelming checklist to work through and tick off (“Welp, looks like I’ve gotten humility down pat! What shall I conquer next?”), let it be a picture of what God might have in store for you. This changes it from a bunch of stuff you have to do to a work the Lord is going to do in you. Your only requirement is a brave “yes” to Him.

We can prep the sails, but we can’t make the wind blow. Let’s just take the top one as an example. Really, this characteristic feeds all of the others. I won’t ever be able to muster up enough energy or desire or even pure grit to be Spirit-powered (that’s kind of the point). I must posture my heart toward an emptiness of my own strength; only then can I gladly respond to the Spirit’s power driving my being. These traits aren’t about me but about Christ’s work in me. So, sweet sister, put your boat in the water, stock it well, prep your sails, and hold your breath in holy expectation. The wind will blow when He’s ready.

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