She breathes in coffee and Jesus on her way to work. Prayer snuggles against her heart as she puts the kids down for a nap. When school threatens to overwhelm, the peace that passes all understanding beckons like a friend. It can look a thousand different ways, but the Proverbs 31 woman makes soul care a priority.
Our culture has been all about self care lately—endless lists of items like coloring books for adults, bubble baths, chocolate ice cream, and silky sleep masks. Sure, why not? I enjoy a little pampering, too. But that stuff can only work so deep. If self care doesn’t include soul care, it’s just a fancy way of escaping reality and will leave you with a heart hangover when you have to get back to normal life. Soul care provides sustaining strength for the moments reality hits hard.
The Proverbs 31 woman is convinced of the importance of her spiritual life and has a few things to teach us.
1. Soaking up the Word is vital to her soul’s flourishing.
One of the most popular verses in this chapter is Proverbs 31:30. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” It was difficult back then, and I’d venture to say now even more so, to fear the Lord without spending time with Him. The world current and the current world will push our tender hearts far, far away from God if we stop fighting to keep Him as our lifeline. Just let go, the world whispers. Go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing. Such whispers carry the sound of death, but death can’t be heard in them until you’re drowning. If you have let go, take comfort in the fact that Jesus has some experience pulling people up out of the waves. All you have to do is cry out.
2. Teaching the Word to others is a way we can grow spiritually.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (verse 26). Taking what you’ve learned and helping others understand it is the best way of making it more real in your own life. Studies show that while you can retain a little through simply receiving (5% by lecture or 10% by reading), you retain 95% of what you pass on to others.* That’s staggering! To really internalize Scripture and benefit from it, teach it to someone else. Tell Bible stories you’ve read, lead a study group, or blog about what you’re learning to push it deeper into your core.
3. Knowing truth cannot be divorced from practicing it.
Verse 20 says that “she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” This isn’t just head knowledge she’s accumulated to make her look and sound smart. Her regular time with God affects, even determines, how she lives and moves and has her being. We can’t rightly follow a King who stretched out His hands with healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation without extending our own as well. Is a servant greater than her master? Shall we not stoop to serve boundlessly as He did?
Sitting at the Lord’s feet as His disciples sets our souls on fire, lights us as beacons of grace. We can’t escape the necessity of spiritual growth if we want to make any kind of worthy contribution during our time here. Soul care is crucial in this war called life—we can’t afford to neglect it. As in all other aspects, Mrs. Proverbs 31 can work her heart muscles in lots of unique ways. The bottom line is that she works her heart muscles. Let’s get creative about how we can join her.