Have you ever noticed the sheer volume of depressing, demoralising, discouraging stuff all over social media. What's a girl to do? Turn to the Proverbs 31 example of Christian womanhood and be completely overwhelmed by this off-the-chart crazily productive woman who would put us all to shame? No, a girl looking for inspiration, encouragement, support to navigate the tumultuous twists and bends of modern day Biblical womanhood needs a modern, savvy, sassy, Jesus-lovin', God-fearin', people-helpin' role model... so let's look afresh at what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman...
Have you ever wanted to take a leap? A really, big, fat, scary leap into something new? Or, actually, perhaps not-so-new, but rather something that has been burning little scorch marks in your heart for a while now to the point where you just need to DO SOMETHING...! No? Just me then.
She31 was birthed in a coffee shop near Loch Lomond, Scotland, UK (not that you could see the Loch from where my friend & I were sitting). As we enjoyed our frothacinos we pontificated about the sheer volume of depressing, demoralising, discouraging stuff all over social media. What's a girl to do? A girl looking for inspiration, encouragement, support to navigate the tumultuous twists and bends of modern day Biblical womanhood ~ a modern, savvy, sassy, Jesus-lovin', God-fearin', people-helpin' girl, just looking for her tribe, that is.
It didn't exactly feel like an epiphany moment at the time, more like an excuse to ingest calorifically terrific cakes and vent our spleens about the perils of social media (not a bad topic for a Tuesday evening) but it set a fire in me to do something about it. For myself, for my beautiful friend there in front of me, for my own beloved daughter.. for all our friends and daughters who are growing up in a world of tweets, snaps, posts and non-erasable digital footprints.
So, I started in the only place I knew and bungled my way through 12-months of sharing thoughts, prayers, jokes and mini Bible studies in a Facebook Group which I called She31 ~ Women After God's Heart. It slowly but steadily grew as girls found a safe place, encouragement, some positive little rays of light beaming out of their newsfeeds here and there. Girls, young and less young, from every arc of the globe; from Africa, to Australia somehow found us and we connected. We really connected.
Why call it She31? And why on earth then build an entire website of the same name? I shall tell you why. Come in a bit closer. Okay, so we've all heard of that woman in the Bible, who suddenly charges in around about the 10th verse of the book of Proverbs, with all her business and investment know-how, early rising, bread-making, wise-beyond-her-years, clothes-stitching stuff and makes us feel a twinge of despair at this impossible job description. Who is this angelic creature we read of and why on earth is she in a Book that is meant to encourage us? Who is this uber-productive saint who makes children rise up and call her 'Blessed' when merely getting my kids to rise up out of bed in the morning gets me skittish?
And on another hand, we've all heard of David; the Shepherd-boy-turned-King who, despite being an adulterous murderer bagged himself the jaw-dropping eternal reputation of being 'a man after God's own heart'.. And this speaks to the extravagant, pigeon-hole-ripping, undeniable Grace of God which for me, and now for hundreds of others, the name She31 ~ Women After God's Heart rolls up in its own clumsy way to represent the seedlings of something powerful to come. She31 is the vision of a tribe, a community, a circle (close and far) of women who determine to excel in life, yet remain in the bosom of our Savior.
We want to soar as a women of the 21st Century, unfurling wings of wisdom, generosity and faithfulness - and yet whist emulating our foremoms in the Word of God; those mighty, courageous, icons ~ Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Deborah, Dorcas, Junia, Mary, Phoebe... That's right. That allegedly antiquated, anti-feminist library of holy scripture is chock full of dynamic, fearless, effective, loving women and from them ~ we have so, so much to learn. Even now. Even today. Whether at the kitchen sink or the office water cooler. We can deploy the wisdom of these spiritual mammas knowing that we too, have a unique story to tell those yet to come, about our very own God-blessed lives.
Who is this uber-productive saint who makes children rise up and call her 'Blessed' when merely getting my kids to rise up out of bed in the morning gets me skittish?
So the reference to the She of Proverbs 31 is just the beginning. As I studied this mirage, this fantastical female, over the course of an entire year, I realised that the skills, the traits, the heart of this 'person' was about far more than an individual. She is not just one woman. Far from it. She represents the vigilant village that it takes to raise a child. She represents the close-knit community it takes to have all who dwell there, prosper in peace and safety. She represents the very core of womanhood, in 2016, as well as in ancient times.
She is able to bear her burdens and still sing. She is able to suffer and still smile. She is able to chase hard after her dream and still flex to embrace whatever comes. She is able to bring forth life and touch into color every heart she brushes past.
She is all of us.
And we are team She31.