She had help.
Granted, her help seems to have been hired, since the passage says, "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants." Proverbs 31:15. We all took that in for a moment, then spent the next several minutes discussing this idea of "help." Obviously, most of us are not in a position these days to have servants waiting on us, nor do we need them. However, how many of us are running around with gritted teeth, bent on trying to be superwoman, refusing to let anyone know that we are desperate for a little help? How many times have we turned down well-intentioned offers of help with a smile and rehearsed flip of the hand saying, "Oh no thank you! I'm fine; really, I am!"
I can remember sitting on my couch last year with my dear friend Sandy who came by to meet and snuggle my new baby. I was tired (duh), sick from my liver that couldn't get it's act straight, and a little overwhelmed with being a mommy for the first time. Our baby had been born prematurely at dawn on Tuesday, we came home late Thursday, my husband had to leave town Friday for two days for a prior commitment we couldn't afford to turn down, and on Monday he was back at work and I was on my own. This was, oh, probably Thursday. This dear friend sat with me and we chatted and had a lovely time, then just before she left she leaned toward me and asked, "Can I do anything for you? Clean a bathroom, maybe?"
My heart swelled with love for this woman, and I actually probably teared up a little. Clean my bathroom? Who offers such a thing! I couldn't believe that anyone would be so kind. Yet my instant reaction was, of course, "Oh, no! We're fine, really. Thank you so much for offering! We don't need anything though!" Inside, I was so thankful for her and knew that I should accept her offer, yet I just couldn't bring myself to accept. She knew exactly what it was like to be a new mom, and she kept offering all kinds of ways she could help because I know she knew I was being silly, and yet I kept saying no when I probably should have been saying yes. And you know what? This whole scenario happened probably half a dozen more times with a half a dozen more precious women. I turned all of them down, except for my mom (who was amazing) and for the few who just showed up with food and demanded to let them feed us, like my wonderful mother-in-law and our friend Steven, who made us the most delicious bison burgers I have ever had in my life. It was like I somehow had to prove to the world "I got this!" and that the new mom thing was a piece of cake. Could I have been more ridiculous?
We do this all the time, we women of today's society, but we don't need to be like this. We need to let ourselves be weak and imperfect and lean on the shoulders of friends who care. Because they do care, and they want to help. Friends like Sandy, who sets an example for the kind of woman I want to be, friends who have walked on similar roads, they want to help. I love helping my friends; I think that's just written into the bone marrow of nearly every woman ever. Woman have for eons lived and worked and cried and laughed and shouldered burdens and babies together, and I think we're missing out by trying to be superheros and attempting to prove that we can make it on our own, by ourselves.
Not many weeks later I was facing a surgery recover with a breastfeeding infant and a husband who literally was going to lose his job if he took any more emergency time. (I honestly think I could have died and they wouldn't have let him go to my funeral. Honestly.) Two of my closest girlfriends took time off of their own jobs to stay with me and the baby all day. I will treasure those two days for the rest of my life. We did nothing but lay around and watch tv and coo at the baby and it was perfect, all because I recognized that I couldn't do it on my own. Another friend loaned me her car unasked this summer when I didn't have any idea how I would get my exchange students from place to place. When she offered that, I was so floored and felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my chest.
When I think of how many women there are who would give anything to be blessed with the kind of friends and family I have, I recognize how wrong it is for me to ever try to flippantly dismiss the blessings my friends have to offer. They are living out the kind of love Christ compels us toward, and that encourages me to keep my heart peeled for the needs of others around me. After all, some of the deepest joy in life can be found by serving others.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
We need each other. And we need to let ourselves accept that! I want to be better at both asking for help when I need it and giving help when I know it's needed.