They are hidden all around us, precious gems who are not prominently displayed in gold settings or extravagant crowns. Not elevated on lofty pedestals or parading on center stage, these heroines are secretly cherished in quiet unobtrusive homes and hearts.

She is not preceded by the cornets and marching band in the parade, blaring out her approach. Her works follow her — and you pleasantly admire them as they quietly pass by, almost forgetting about her in the enjoyment that her works have brought to you.

For she is not a woman who seeks position or acclaim. In fact, you probably wouldn’t recognize her if you passed her in the store, this Proverbs 31 woman. Ordinary, average, no outstanding beauty to attract your attention or admiration.

And yet, if perchance you happened to engage her in conversation, there would be that spark, and of course her smile, and genuine likability.

“I like her,” you would say.

“Why? I don’t know. . . there is something about her.”

Yes, there is. An energy, a confidence, a unique and independent streak of creativity and zeal that is just rare enough to be intriguing. She walks to the beat of a different drummer, and spends her energies not in measuring up, and trying to be just like everyone else (which is a sure road to common and ordinary), but in pursuing worthwhile and admirable — yet average goals, which when combined create an extraordinary individual that people talk about with wonder . . . after the parade was over.

My friend — I’ll tell you her name over another cup of tea on another day — she was like that. There was not one particular gift that she had that made her famous, and as you met her in any one particular role, she was not extraordinary, but when all of those qualities and stories, and gifts and talents, and interests came together, an extraordinary portrait was unveiled of a woman of noble character, whose works were praised at the city gates.

Each person who knew her added a clumsy brush stroke of blurred color, which on completion produced a masterpiece of brilliant colors and hues, a painting of a noble woman worthy of the Proverbs 31 label.

In my heart I knew all along, and I would have discovered it sooner had I been asked to sit down and paint her portrait myself. I would have painted with my pen, but it would have all been documented — this extraordinarily average woman. And yet, if someone had said, give me the name of a Proverbs 31 Woman, like you, I would have tried to think of the most talented, accomplished, beautiful woman, — the impostor that I have been improperly conditioned to expect when thinking of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Let us lay aside our erroneous expectations about the Proverbs 31 Woman. Let us not rely on a fraudulent forgery, a fake, a slanderously, sickening, seductive, yet subtle hissing of the serpent’s bristles that paint a picture of an elusive Eve, grasping for something more than the perfection she had been provided.

Oh yes, you have heard about, and there is a portrait of a beautiful woman of noble character that we can emulate, but it is not in the foyer of the great museum, in gilded frame, spotlighted, elevated in idolatrous splendor for your envy and covetous gaze or painted particularly for your condemnation.

Wander the corridors, go into the back hallways, riffle through the stacks of dusty draped canvases. Seek and you shall find the portrait of my friend, dust-laden, parched canvas dried and ancient, but you can still see her smile, and if we take care to restore her portrait, we will discover her beauty together.

My friend was a woman of noble character. I have seen her portrait, and there is no resemblance to that impostor on the pedestal. Come with me and we’ll restore her to a position of honor in our hearts as we peel back the layers and discover the authentic Proverbs 31 Woman. You’ll like her. In fact you remind me of her.


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Won Without Words by Shari Popejoy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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