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By Meg Gemelli, author of The Gritty Pearl

 

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Specially selected music videos are provided throughout this article so you can listen to related tunes while reading this article now and again later to fuel your workouts.

I had to “un-follow” an acquaintance today. I couldn’t handle the comparison anymore. Her Twitter handle is cutesy and feminine, but it’s a given that her real name is something like Gwendolyn. Sophisticated-sounding. Put-together. She happens to “whip up” five-star meals at dinner every night for her very clever, hard-bodied husband--all while wearing a figure hugging dress and high heels. I’ve seen the pictures.

She spins AND does group exercise, homeschools, counts calories, and her friends never have to wonder about her opinions regarding organic, gluten-free meal options. Of course, Gwendolyn’s also a blond, size-2, with four baby-Gap children playing quietly in the corner. Any opportunity to work around the house is welcome—joyfully adding Fitbit steps toward her daily goal.

Are you horrified yet? Me too. You might be familiar with this lady, because the “Americanized” Proverbs 31 Woman is every believing girl’s nightmare. Perfect. Super-achieving. Unattainable. If she’s a hyper-involved church-goer, we could add volunteering and Bible study hostess to the list as well. But what would a “Gwen” look like if we met the callous-palmed, relationship-first, stripped-down-beauty version of her?

On the following pages I want to examine with you five things she might be doing. They are:

1. Focusing on her overall health.

2. Not micro-managing her kids.

3. Appreciating the moments of motherhood.

4. Enjoying “just being” with her husband.

5. Refusing to compete and focusing on an audience of One.

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FOCUS ON OVERALL HEALTH

 

1. She’d be focusing on her overall health, strength, and energy levels, instead of solely on her appearance. While obesity is at an all-time high, amongst our average-to-thin population, many women operate on caloric and nutritional deficits. Exhausted. They’re also expected to produce more in less time than any generation who’s come before. Appearance trumps strength in our culture, and that’s huge problem for women with a serious God-calling on their lives.

The healthy Proverbs 31 woman would fuel her body for the tasks at hand, like being able to easily lift or carry her kids (click/tap the picture), clean, do yard work, and function well in an office or a job requiring manual labor. Her diet would be fresh, consisting of God-given, earth-grown animals and produce. She’d focus more on water intake and balancing proteins, carbs, and good fats, than she ever would on the numbers on the scale. Her life would radiate an exuberant, vibrant energy that comes from cherishing the body He gave.

 

GRITTY TIP: Are you so tired (and ingrained in your routine) that you forget you have options? We’ve all been there. If so, it may be time to make a change. Have you considered a new gym? Maybe you’re ready to spend time with fellow athletes who value strength over appearance. Perhaps you simply crave some rest. Whether you’re in need of prayer time, a babysitter, a dietician, personal training, or a relaxing day at the spa, we encourage you to prayerfully consider reaching out for help. Don’t be afraid, be proactive!

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NO MORE MICRO-MANAGING THE CHILDREN

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2. She’d not be micro-managing her kids for the approval of others. Fear lives beneath the surface of every image-controlled woman—fear of being judged, not being liked, and never being “enough.” Unfortunately, these worries manifest in the form of helicopter parenting. Children are crippled by impossible expectations and cumbersome behavior regulation.

The dauntless, faith-filled woman understands that kids learn at their own pace, and that they’ll make mistakes, regardless of her phenomenal parenting. She pours every bit of wisdom into their time together and prays that her sons and daughters will rely on God’s perfect guidance, long after they’ve flown the nest. The courageous mom trusts Him to do everything that she can’t. She lets go of control, instead of striving to achieve impossible feats in her own strength.

GRITTY TIP: We get it, there’s a lot to do. Life’s a mess and we’re usually the ones who have to clean it up. (Can I get an Amen?) As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” We dare you to do something completely out of the ordinary this week. Let your kids get messy so they can experience a taste of the active, wildly imaginative life. Savor the joy you feel as their giggles fill the air and join the madness for yourself.

 

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APPRECIATE THE MOMENTS OF MOTHERHOOD

3. She’d spend time appreciating the fleeting moments of motherhood. Here’s the truth: No kid will remember every flawlessly-plated meal, whether or not their clothes were put away directly from the dryer, or if the carpet donned daily vacuum lines. Every one of them, however, can tell you if their mother truly sees them, or if instead, she operates on autopilot. They’ll forever live with the memories of laughter and radiant hugs, and they’ll never forget the way their mamas made them feel doing a workout together.

The present woman senses a child’s need to be seen, accepted, and loved unconditionally. She puts down her chore list for a moment and witnesses the construction of the most breathtaking Lego castle ever built by man. She numbers her days and does her best to never take little God’s gifts for granted.

 

GRITTY TIP: You’re awesome, but you’re not Wonder Woman. Here’s your permission: Order the pizza (with veggies on top, of course) and engage your kids in the housework (even if they don’t do it perfectly). Crank up the music and dance your way through an impromptu workout as a family. Or maybe a slow-down is in order, just to keep your sanity. A little yoga in the living room, perhaps? Let them see you working through a Bible devotion and taking some deep breaths for yourself. You never know when the kids might join you, and learn about self-care in the process.

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ENJOY “JUST BEING” WITH THE HUSBAND

4. She’d spend more time “just being” with her husband. We all want to look good to our spouses, physically and in our role as wife. We want our meals to be the best meals and we want him to believe that we’re the prettiest at the party. Sometimes we want those things so badly that our efforts take effect in the opposite. High expectations kill empathy, and instead of simply looking our best, vanity takes hold.

The genuine Proverbs 31 woman loves to spend time with her husband in something contemporary yet comfortable every once in awhile. The pressure is gone to “show” and to “perform.” They foster true intimacy rather than operating as achievement-oriented coworkers. She gives herself permission to slow down and connects in real time with him, extending liberty for him to do the same. She loves to show him the woman beneath the pretty clothes and makeup, because “loved for who we are” is the best feeling in the world.

GRITTY TIP: Marriage can be stinky-sweaty. Our backs ache, we have no-good, rotten days, and sometimes there are nicer sharks in the ocean than the thoughts we have in our heads about our spouses. It’s OK to cut ourselves some slack. (And to cut him some too while we’re at it.) Ask your husband if there’s a good time for the two of you to connect this week--after the kids have gone to bed or while they’re with family, friend, or a sitter. It doesn’t have to be expensive or intricately planned out. Find a simple way for each of you to remember why you’re together in the first place.

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REFUSE TO COMPETE AND FOCUS ON AN AUDIENCE OF ONE

5. She’d be refusing to compete with other women and focusing on an audience of One, instead. Above all, the Proverbs 31 woman knows who she is. She’s rooted in her identity and clear about her own purpose, strengths, and weaknesses. She understands that she serves a big God—One who has more than enough praise for all of His children. This woman doesn’t look to the right or to the left to worry about who’s in the race, but instead, keeps her eyes locked on Jesus, running at her own pace. She feels confident in her station in life and unique abilities, rather than having to compete with the women around her.

 

GRITTY TIP: It’s hard to perform at our own pace if we don’t know which sport we should be participating in. Do you have a good idea of what your gifts and talents are? If not, it could be time for reflection. Joining a women’s small group or Bible study may be a great option. Oftentimes, seeing ourselves through both God’s eyes, and through the perspectives of trusted friends, gives us better insight than we can achieve on our own. Life’s a journey and we don’t have to go it alone.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m finally at peace with the Proverbs 31 woman. Words, written all those years ago, described a single soul throughout various stages of her life. Industrious. Creative. Wise. Trustworthy. She wasn’t all of those things in one day. God developed them in her--as she trusted Him--one lesson at a time. Wherever you are, and whatever the circumstance, live your life with grace and grit, instead of sinking beneath the waves of perfection and comparison. You’ll never regret it.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future…

May those words be spoken of each and every one of us.


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This article appears in the Women's Interest department of the June/July 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine.

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