A few years ago I read Carolyn McCulley’s book Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye and thoroughly enjoyed it and was convicted by it. God used that book powerfully in my life and heart. These are my thoughts as I have continued to reflect on Proverbs 31.12 “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” The past few weeks these have been in the forefront of my mind and I hope to spell out very practical, yet biblical ideas that we as women can pursue while we are in a period of waiting (no matter how long we wait). I never thought I would be inching close to 34 and still be single. My Mom always thought I would be married before she was (at 27). Well, God has some great big plans that so far has not included a wedding ring for me. But – He has allowed me to follow Him through some amazing things: mission trips, seeing the world, 3 moves to three states, incredible ministry with college students, working at two great seminaries, speaking to women all over the Southeast, and now working at an amazing church in my favorite area in the country. God is incredibly gracious to me. So…are you ready?
1. Idleness. I put this first because I think it is the one I struggle with the most. Yes, I multitask (as most women are pretty good at this), but do I multitask at what I should be multitasking? I can watch TV, wash the dishes, and read my Google Feeds at the same time – but is there something I could be doing in that time that would be more constructive. A former boss of mine said that often we do the easy things first just because we are putting off doing the hard things.
Many women in my life epitomize a lack of idleness. I watch them and find it hard to believe that have any energy at all? I want to “work with willing hands”, “rise while it is yet night”, “she looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Prov 31.13, 15, 27).
Idleness is defined as not occupied, lacking worth or basis. Is this how you want your life to be defined? I am not saying you need to be out of the home 6 nights a week to not be idle. Actually, almost the opposite would be true. As single women we have such a great opportunity and time to open our home to others and participate in ministry. Let’s take advantage of that!
2. Integrity. “The heart of her husband trusts in her.” (Prov 31.11). Well, Kim, I’m not married. This is why we are practicing these things now. The wedding band is not a magical circle that once it slips on your ring finger it makes you all of these things mentioned in Prov 31. Integrity is Psalm 101.2 says, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.” Are you a person of your word? Do you keep your commitments? Can people trust you? Are you the same woman in your bedroom as you are when you are at work or at church? Do you model a life of integrity to non-believers?
3. Faithfulness. Prov 31.12: “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE. Not just once we get married or find that special guy. ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE. This is key to this verse. We need to intent on living now. We need to watch our relationships with men who are not our husbands, every word and act and deed and touch be seen in light of “this man is my brother in Christ”. This is probably the part of my heart that I struggle with the most in relationships: trust in men. How will I keep one man satisfied for the rest of my life? Will my husband fail me? You know, the only thing I can do about that is be obedient to my loving heavenly Father, be faithful to what He has called me, and not put my final hope and trust in Man. Psalm 20.7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” This practicing of faithfulness, starts now. In the little things. In the big things. In every thing.
4. Trust. We can live a life of trust now. Many women I know in marriage worry. Worry if their husband will cheat on her. Worry if they will have kids, or how many kids, or whether their kids will turn out ok, whether her husband will lose her job or not, worry…worry…worry. Scripture definitely tells us not worry. But, if we live a life of worry now – how will that change when we get married? We will probably carry those very traits into our marriage. Matthew 6 gives us clear instruction in this area: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
5. Modesty. Wow – this one is a big one. We often think that men will like us better if we show more skin? Hmmm….let me think through this. Two guys in my life have spoken this to me in the past ten years: “Kim, I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about what you wear. Thank you for protecting me.” “Kim, I know guys who don’t attend ____________ in the summer at church because the women don’t know how to dress and they don’t want to go there and struggle with lust, so they just do not go.” This last one breaks my heart. That women don’t care enough about their brothers in Christ to wear modest clothing. Lord – may we seek your heart on this matter, not legalism. Legalism and hem lines will never win this battle. Our heart must seek you in everything we wear. 1 Timothy says “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.”
6. Excellent. Do you do things haphazardly? Or do you live your life with a strive toward excellence? This goes in everything? Meals. Clothing. Cleaning. Homemaking. Work. Relationships. Ministry. Play. Prov 31.29 “Many women have done excellently but you surpass them all”. This life is not a competition, but we want to show excellence in our work, ministry, and heart for the glory of the gospel of Christ.
7. Wisdom. “Prov 31.26: She opens her mouth with wisdom.” Man. I want this to be evidenced in my life. And nothing of wisdom comes out of this sinful mouth. All wisdom that departs these lips and from this heart are only by the grace of God and clearly rooted in Scripture. If people ask for my opinion, I TRY to offer Words of LIFE not Kim’s opinions. I purposefully attempt to take folks back to Scripture and help them to see the Words that are crucial to us living a life glorifying of the One who died for us.
8. Giving. Prov 31.20: “She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” This doesn’t have to mean giving money or food to the poor/homeless who stand on the street corner of seemingly most intersections these days. This may mean serving with a ministry in your city or church that helps the poor or needy. This may mean taking a dinner to a family who has been struggling, whether physically or emotionally. There is no end to what you can do to practice this verse while you are still single – and then hopefully carry those practices with you into marriage.
9. Handy. Prov 31.19, 22: “She put her hands to the distaff and her hands hold the spindle. She makes bed coverings for herself.” I started a sewing project yesterday. And why – to practice this verse. Laugh. But, I want to give it a try. And, no – you don’t have to be able to sew to obey this verse. But, why not? As a friend said to me the other day, this verse may mean you clipping coupons and going to Bed Bath & Beyond when their comforters are on sale.
10. Kindness. Prov 31.26: “The teaching of kindness if on her tongue.” I want this to be said of me. That means, that I need the Lord to mold this in me, to burn this word in me and my actions. I am not there yet. The sanctifying work of the Spirit must keep working. Are you kind? Are you affectionate and loving? This doe not always come easy for me. I really need to enter into every conversation or social setting praying these things: Lord, how can I impart your love and grace to people who I encounter right now? How I can show this in my when people enter and stay? Daily. This is a daily, hourly process.
11. Self-Control. 1 Timothy mentions this. Clearly a mark of a woman who loves the Lord. Whether it is in our spending habits (how much debt have we accrued in our singleness), in our showiness of clothes or possessions, or how much we weigh, how much time we spend watching television or other useless activities. All these have a base in self-control. I’ve struggled with all of these. God is gracious. He turns me back to Himself to see where I have made a god out of these instead of having Him be LORD of everything in my life. Are you one of those women who think I need to get everything, eat everything, live how I want to live now because once I get married I won’t be able to do that? Or, no one is seeing me naked now so what does it matter what I look like or how much flab is on me? God is your creator and made you for HIMSELF. He loves us. That should motivate us to live a life worthy of Him out of a heart full of grace. So…what needs to change in your life in this area? Do you need to cut up credit cards. Personally – I can’t have one because I don’t deal well with that temptation. Do you need to lose weight? I do and have purposefully been working on it for 3 years. It is daily. Do you need to have someone hold you accountable for any of these areas? Find a godly woman in your church or area that will invest in your life and pour Scripture and healing words over these concerns. Live for God’s glory in this.
12. Fruitful. “Prov 31.30: Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” To all of this we say “not to me, but to Jesus.” Have you seen fruit come from your singleness? I think back to many years ago when I was in a relationship that was heading toward marriage. I’m so grateful God saw otherwise. I would never have been able to teach college girls for 3 years, I would never have moved to Louisville to work for a great seminary and organization, I would never have traveled around the world to love on missionaries and see the hopelessness in Muslims who don’t know Him, and I would never have had the opportunity I have now in my current job. God is so gracious. I have seen fruit. But, not for my glory – but all for HIS. Are you wasting your time in your singleness or are you investing it for the kingdom?
13. Fears the Lord. “Prov 31.25, 30: Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” If all of these (1-12) were accomplished in our lives and we skipped 13 – our lives would be in vain. No amount of good works or obedience will get us anywhere. I watched Les Miserables last night. At the end, the Inspector says “I’ve tried to live my life without breaking any law.” Such sadness is in this statement, such emptiness. Our lives are not measured by good deeds. My life is measured by a Cross. My life is meaningful because of the gospel. I can obey out of the response of past grace in light of future grace. He has taught me much about trusting in Him and His timing the past almost 4 years now. He is good. He is gracious. He is enough.
As you continue to live our your life (whether single or married) may you do so with purpose and obedience and grace and hope. We don’t obey so we may be blessed – we obey because we have grace and have been offered hope and love at the cost of His Son. May our lives reflect this love and grace and gospel so the Word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2.5)