Whew…what a challenging week, and it’s only Tuesday! With the colliding starts of public school and Chappotin Academy, currently, life around our house sounds like a cacophonous symphony. Eventually, we’ll discover a rhythm, but for now, we’re doing well just to pick up the instruments.
Proverbs 31:10 reads, “A woman of valor who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” While reflecting on this passage, author, speaker, and blogger, Rachel Held Evans, comments, “Eshet chayil—woman of valor— has long been a blessing of praise in the Jewish community. Husbands often sing the line from Proverbs 31 to their wives at Sabbath meals. Women cheer one another on through accomplishments in homemaking, career, education, parenting, and justice by shouting a hearty “eshet chayil!” after each milestone. Great women of the faith, like Sarah and Ruth and Deborah, are identified as women of valor.
In response to Proverbs 31:10, Held Evans challenged her readers to participate in a writing contest. The task would be to author an 800-word essay describing a “woman of valor.” I accepted the opportunity, and crafted this piece during an early August rainstorm. I present to you: “My Woman of Valor.”
MY WOMAN OF VALOR
Challenge accepted, RHE. Let me introduce my woman of valor.
My woman of valor disciples women. Her heart yearns to help women experience and become more like Jesus. Weekly, over meals, play-times with children, and phone calls, she invites women into conversations focused on learning the Scriptures, confessing hopes and fears, and discerning what God is doing within and around them. In addition to invitation, she challenges women to seek the Lord, offer the gift of vulnerability, and participate in God’s love for the world. Through this rhythm of invitation and challenge, my woman of valor models listening and looking for the Lord, authenticity, and caring for others. For example, currently (even though they live 80 miles apart), through phone calls, text messages, and reading “The Shack” together, she’s walking with a friend traversing a “dark night of the soul.” In addition, last week, over El Fenix (authentic Tex-Mex!) enchiladas, she inspired friends longing for more from their Christianity than church attendance and virtuous living. Next week, she will share hope, friendship, and prayer with formerly homeless women now rescued from the streets and living in homes just for them. My woman of valor offers her life and honors the Lord in discipling relationships with women.
My woman of valor confesses sin and refuses to allow it to define her. Specifically, over the last 5 years, she has continually confessed struggles with weight. However, by submission to the Holy Spirit, her confessions quickly became springboards into action. Through prayer, hard work, and a community of partnering women, to date, she’s shed 85 pounds. Many mornings while I snoozed, she left the house for a 5AM run. Many evenings after long days of chasing kids and battling grocery stores, she gathered with friends for P90X workouts. Even with 2 of our 4 children born in the last 5 years, perseverance and (re)commitment marked her unwavering quest to lose weight. Even today, with her goal-weight a mere 30 pounds away, she views weight loss as worship. Confession of idolatry sparked repentance in the forms of God-glorifying exercise and food-intake management. I believe this God-worshipping perspective sustains her when the challenge feels insurmountable and, draws her nearer to the One she longs to be like. My woman of valor shrinks in worship to the Lord.
My Woman of Valor works for social justice in our suburban community. While sprouting shopping centers, successful schools, and impeccably manicured shrubs litter our sparkling suburban landscape, drugs, financial instability, relational fragility, and other factors keep the unhidden parts and people of our town on the brink of destruction. The enemy desires the suburbs, too; however, sensitivity to his unscrupulous ways requires reoriented eyesight. My woman of valor wears Kingdom glasses that allow her to see and shine light in the hidden darkness of our town. In our neighborhood, she expresses hospitality by inviting neighbors (who oftentimes do not know each other) into our home for barbecues or dessert nights. In our neighborhood elementary school, she offers clothing, school supplies, and food for children in need. In our community, she apprentices with a ministry serving homeless women and children by counseling, providing rides to and from work, and offering a welcoming presence at the front desk of the ministry office. In addition, she models this Kingdom life to our children, because she encourages their involvement in each opportunity. My woman of valor remains discontent to watch the enemy trample our community. Therefore, she embraces a risky Kingdom life for the sake of others.
My woman of valor listens for the Holy Spirit. We both grew up in solid Jesus communities of faith. However, oftentimes, our upbringing did not know what to do with the Holy Spirit. I trust we were not alone in this predicament; however, for us, the Holy Spirit was like an estranged parent that we knew was out there attempting to connect with us, but we had no idea how to begin the relationship. Recently, through the Scriptures, transforming experiences, and support from friends, my woman of valor has met the Holy Spirit in powerful and action-inducing ways that have inspired and sustained all I mentioned above. As you now know, rather than responding in paralyzing fear or with rationalizing dismissal, she’s tasted the Lord, found Him good, and pulled her chair up to his table for another helping. In many ways, she leads me by pressing into mostly uncharted territory, and I will follow her every step of the way. My woman of valor tunes her ears to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and we are both learning to listen and respond.
My wife, Heidi Mashele Chappotin, is my Woman of Valor, and she is worth far more than rubies, indeed.