Like many of you, I grew up in a post women’s lib culture. Surrounded by strong female teachers and coaches, my high school days were filled with woman who had it all and did it all; teaching me that I could do the same. Through their words and actions, I learnt that often the only way to get to this place of respect and success was by being tough…at all costs. Independence equals strength. The opposite of weakness, it is how us women gain respect. Yet often our lack of dependence goes past simply being capable. In fact, I have seen in my life where instead this “independence” can be rude, stubborn and unkind.
This weekend, our drive way was a sheet of ice; the after math of some nasty wintry weather. As I tried my hardest to make it up the slippery pavement, my husband called to me to wait so he could help me up. Help me? “I got it!” I called back. Within seconds, not only was I sliding down the drive, but so was my bag and all the contents in it!
It’s times like these, when I dig in and dismiss his help, that I loose my husband’s respect. Often, being unkind goes with it as well.
Proverbs 11:16 says, “A kindhearted woman gains respect…”
Kindness is the true strength that brings the type of respect in our lives that we desire, not being rude and stubborn.
The woman in Proverbs 31 exemplifies true strength and kindness. Like today’s busy woman, she works hard inside her home and out. Proverbs 31:17 says, “She sets about her work vigorously her arms are strong for her tasks.” These tasks display kindness toward others. The motivation to give; not get ahead.
Verse 20 says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Like Proverbs 11:6 said, through these works, “a kindhearted woman gains respect.”
Listen to how hard she works both at home and in the market place of her culture:
“21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.” Proverbs 31: 21 – 24 (NIV)
Her reward? Yes, her home is organized and she may do well in her “stock market”. But her real reward comes in verses 28 – 30, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
That’s the kind of respect I want; do you? Not only do I want it for me, but I want my girls to see that true respect comes as a reward when my life is led by kindness.