By: Patricia Engler
I braced my fingers against the warm mug and glanced nervously again at the coffee shop door, waiting.
She should be here any minute…
I might have known better than to get myself into this. I mean, asking to meet for coffee with the Proverbs 31 Woman? Normal young women don’t even talk to three thousand-year-old metaphorical people who live in ancient Hebrew poems, much less go out for java with them. Besides, so many other women seem to dislike this impossibly perfect lady. After all, she grows certified organic food, weaves her own clothing from ethically-sourced wool, and would never even think to waste an hour on Netflix. Yet viewing her as just another unattainable standard of womanhood to make the rest of us look bad seemed backwards to me. Surely, I reasoned, she isn’t in the Bible to be our rival, but rather our mentor.
Still, maybe I should have settled for just reading about her. But—too late! The glass door opened and in she strode, right on time.
“Hi,” I greeted her winning smile, “Love your sweater. Did you knit it yourself?”
She nodded sweetly, drawing up a chair. “Purple is my favorite.”
She set down a mug of Fairtrade tea and gazed at me like a sculptor contemplating a block of marble.
“You know what’s one of the most important things about being a wife?” She asked suddenly.
I blinked. Surely, she must know I’m single, without the faintest foreshadow of marriage in sight. Maybe I should change the subject for the rest of the visit, say farewell, and not call upon Mrs. 31 again until I’m seeking premarital counseling—like, 31 years from now. But she apparently missed my hesitation.
“It’s to do your husband good and not evil all the days of your life.”
I shifted uneasily. “I’ll keep that in mind, someday,” I replied.
“Did I say, someday?” Her gaze remained even. “You need to do that man good all the days of your life, hon, and that includes today. That starts now.”
Hmm. I distracted myself with a sip from my mug before responding, “And how am I supposed to do that—by praying for the man? How should I pray? If intimacy with God is the ultimate purpose of life, should I pray that he’d live out his purpose today by walking with Christ more intimately?”
Her brow lifted slightly, like she had meant something else. “Well, that’s part of it, anyway. But think about it: what is your purpose? You said it just now.”
“To walk with God,” I answered, “To know Him, and to love Him with everything.”
“Right.” She leaned forward, a gentle fervency upwelling in her words. “Now, if you truly do seek after God and delight in Him; if you let Him align your heart to His; if you commit yourself and everything you have to Him—resources, energy, dreams—and spend yourself today for His kingdom, what happens?”
“Don’t tell me Mr. Right walks in.”
She leaned back. “No! Of course not; that’s not the point.”
Here I felt relieved: God is the point. Nothing else could satisfy, I knew. Searching for completeness in anything but Christ counts as lost ground, a step backwards.
But she continued, “What happens is that as you give yourself to a close walk with God and delight in Him, He starts shaping you into who He desires you to become. He makes you look more and more like His Son. And He leads you into becoming who He created you to be, whether the most faithful single woman of God you can be, or the most faithful married woman of God you can be. In that case, He’d already have begun shaping you into being exactly the right wife He has in mind to stand beside the man He loves. Get what I’m saying?”
I set down my mug, astounded.
The woman had a lot more depth than I’d given her credit for.
And it was all so applicable, even to my 21st century life as a single, busy young woman. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to hear what else Mrs. 31 had to say. I reached for a napkin and clicked open a pen, poised to start taking notes.
Mrs. 31 smiled.
“Better take some more of those,” she said, nudging the napkin dispenser closer, “we have a lot to cover.”
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Patricia Engler is a young writer with a three-fold passion for Christian apologetics, outdoor adventure, and Dutch licorice. Mostly, she desires to walk with God and bring others along. When not typing undergraduate papers, dreaming about global missions, or trying to build homemade outdoor gear out of dental floss, she may often be found wandering along Canada’s west coast, looking contemplative. And eating licorice.