It’s hard to be a human.
I say that to my girls almost every day. Because it’s true. And because sometimes we need reminding that “hard” is a natural (and healthy) state.
Life doesn’t have to be easy to be good. In fact, hard is usually better, more satisfying, more rewarding.
I read Proverbs 31 tonight, read about that infamous woman selling and cleaning and cooking and sewing and respecting, up before dawn, up late into the night…
A lot of people talk about the virtuous woman like she’s some kind of pipe dream, an ideal but not a reality.
Last night, really looking at the text, I was surprised to realize I know a lot of women living into the Proverbs 31 path—diligent, hardworking women selflessly serving their families and the kingdom of God.
The virtuous woman is up before the sun to make breakfast and dress the kids, to get one to school and another to just, please, come on and put on her shoes.
She bounces between paying bills and running errands and washing clothes and doing dishes and writing blog posts/checking in with her Etsy store/editing a photo shoot/working a full time job.
She prepares to teach Bible class and helps out with her husband’s work, dropping off food at the office, grabbing that thing he needs from Target. She’s kind to him even when it’s hard.
She serves God by mentoring young mothers or painting or planning fundraisers for God honoring non-profits.
She reads bedtime stories and does the dishes again and folds laundry and writes/sews/grades papers some more until it’s midnight and she’s still at her desk.
Does that sound at all familiar? Of course it does. The virtuous woman isn’t some pie-in-the-sky ideal. You know women like this. You might be a woman like this.
I hear people read this passage and say, “That sounds exhausting.” And I laugh and say, “It is.” I know from experience and I know from observation, offering up your life to hard work IS exhausting. I hear from women every day who’re tired. But they keep waking up before the sun, buying groceries, making sure their kids have coats, baking cupcakes for school parties, planning museum events, writing poems…
After I read Proverbs 31, I flipped to Isaiah and read the first chapter I came across, chapter 40.
I read this:
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Perhaps you, like me, sometimes feel weary. Maybe hard seems too hard and you’d just prefer to give up, to crawl under the covers and take a month long nap.
I feel you.
Maybe you’re in a marriage that’s entirely one-sided. Maybe you’re working a sixteen hour day, chasing toddlers, changing diapers, disciplining and cleaning and crying. Maybe you’re living on a super-tight budget, scrimping and saving so you can give. Maybe you’re devoting hours every day to a dream that doesn’t seem to be gaining any traction.
I know it seems hard. It is hard. And it’s good.
This work you’re doing is good work. It’s the kind of work that lasts and matters.
The Proverbs writer says of the virtuous woman: “Honor her for all that her hands have done and let her works bring her praise.”
What this woman did charted the course for her family. Her daily self-discipline and industry are an eternal blessing to her husband and children.
It’s okay if you’re tired after work like that. It makes sense. Winston Churchill said, “The world is run by tired men.” (I’m sure his wife said, “The world is run by tired women.”) People who work hard are tired.
Remember, too, that God is here for you. He wants to enable your hard work, to renew you and strengthen you.
He will help you run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
You cannot do this without Him, no matter how hard you try.
Pray for His help.
Walk with purpose into the works He’s prepared for you to do.
Read His life-giving words in your Bible.
Seek perspective in hope.
Find comfort and courage in the community of believers.
Depend on the Lord and not your own failing strength.
And I promise, if you do that, you will always have all you need—enough energy, enough strength, enough joy, enough.
Being a human is hard, but with God, it’s the best kind of hard there is.