She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
Well, sort of. My lamp definitely goes out at night. But these verses bring me peace and vision for one of the things that keep me busy. And who knew I’d love it so much.
A little over a year ago, I started working as a property manager. At first it was just showing apartments and dealing with tenants but it’s slowly expanded as the company has grown. With my second big project now underway – another abandoned home that we are gutting and renovating – I’m realizing afresh how much I like working. Even – gasp! – working outside of my home. I understand how fortunate I am, trust me. My boss gives me a lot of freedom to set my own schedule. But it’s brought up a lot of thoughts in my mind about how hard it is to feel different.
When a church culture seems to only encourage one path for women – that of homemaker – it makes life for working women isolating at times. Birds of a feather and all that, right? Unfortunately when a woman feels isolated or left out, it’s an opportunity for division and discord to be sown. So how do we, as women, combat such things from happening?
It’s important to understand that working women are not living an unbiblical life. They strive to keep their home and family a priority, without making it an idol. Moms all need to get dinner on the table and figure out what that stain on the carpet is. They need to spend time with their children and make decisions about schooling. With so much in common, it’s sad that division even happens. But it does. The Bible clearly shows us, though, that working women are following a path walked by many wonderful Biblical examples. As noted above, the Proverbs 31 woman considers a field, buys it, sees that her trade is profitable. She had a side hustle! In the New Testament, we read of Lydia, Phoebe, and Priscilla. Working women were important members of the early church. Does this mean that every woman should be working? No. But it gives us some things to consider and remember as we strive to create a healthy church environment for all women.
It’s easy for me to assume that just because my life looks different from yours, it is impossible for us to be friends. It’s easy for me to assume that because you strive to lead a quiet, calm, stay at home kind of life, that you have no interest in hearing about my not so calm life. What if we started assuming the best of each other, ladies? What if we started assuming that serving Jesus is our common goal, that we all need prayer and a listening ear, that we are all a bit unsure of striking up conversations? Rather than assuming the worst – choose to assume good things and watch how culture around you changes.
Walking It Out
Sounds easy enough, right? But what does that look like? Working moms, don’t be defensive. Don’t assume they don’t want you. Homemakers, don’t be defensive. Don’t assume they don’t want to talk to you. Working moms, ask questions and respond honestly when a question is asked. Homemakers, ask questions and respond honestly when a question is asked. Are you catching what I’m saying? There is no trick to walking this out other than learning to be a bit vulnerable and brave. Maybe your answer to their questions will be in stark contrast to everyone else you’re conversing with – that’s okay, we are all unique! Be who God made you to be and trust that others in your church and community respect your differences.
How can you help to make women that have made a different employment choice feel welcome in your church community?