Guest Post: Becoming Proverbs 31 by Ehui Osei-Mensah

Proverbs 31

It is no secret to many that the Bible is an amazing source of strength, wisdom, and encouragement. As a Christian working mother and wife I constantly need God’s written word to power through my busy life. However, the Bible is also a sharp critic. Sometimes I find it akin to a mirror with bright unflattering lights, exposing the flaky skin and zits that no amount of make-up can cover. In fact, nothing exposes my failings and whips me back into shape faster than the Bible. In His holy word, God clearly presents the standard that Christians should aspire to and if we fail to keep it (His unwavering grace in mind), living up to God’s standard can be quite daunting.

As a Christian woman, Proverbs 31 is one of such passages that inspires me and terrifies me all at once because of the truly high standards it espouses. I would willingly blame Solomon for using the collective skills of all his 300 plus wives to define an impossible standard for all women in this book. But I digress….the Bible is, after all, the inspired word of God so we can assume God’s voice in its every passage. Proverbs 31 is therefore God’s standard for what a superwoman should be.

The passage tells me that the ideal wife and mother barely sleeps but is still able to wake up early to start her busy day (vs. 15). She is a great cook, dress maker, and yet still a successful entrepreneur – buying real estate with her own earnings (vs.16)! She is a philanthropist, opening her house to the poor (vs. 20), and is a kind and effective manager and master planner, rewarding her employees generously and managing her home with poise and grace. She does all this while slaying in all her outfits. Yes! This lady is supposedly physically fit and fashionable! She has strong and toned Michelle Obama arms (vs. 17) and slays in fine linen and purple – in other words – haut couture (vs. 22). She ensures that her household is well-clothed too and brings honor to her husband and family (vs. 23).  She is good natured and a wise teacher (vs. 25, 26). Naturally, her husband and children are full of praises for her, who wouldn’t? Who is this woman? She is certainly not me on most days.

How on earth do I match up? Most days I’m stuck at step one. I, like the Proverbs 31 woman, don’t sleep much but I am certainly not springing out of bed before the sun is up with a smile on my face, ready to cook and clean before work. It takes many a slam of the snooze button and kind coaxing from my dear husband to get me out of bed and coherent on most days. I certainly do not manage real estate businesses. I have only one job – one busy job – but nothing compared to the strides of this Proverbs 31 woman. Though I love to look good, I can’t make my own clothing and the ones I buy sport labels of designers whose names you don’t need French training to pronounce (aka not haut couture) and this woman is out there slaying in bespoke fine linen and purple. Could she seriously be real?

For us working wives and mothers who still want to rely on God’s word as the standard for all our endeavors, is the Bible somehow setting us up to fail with an impossible standard? Is there ever a way to happily balance a high powered professional career with wifehood and motherhood, especially as an African woman in the diaspora with external family support miles away? Well, according to Proverbs 31, there are no excuses for mediocrity and yes, it appears possible to be a real superwoman! The one thing the passage doesn’t quite mention is the fact that this woman must be spending some time on her knees communicating with God for the wisdom to excel in all her affairs. I certainly need that divine guidance to be a high performer both at home and at work.

Many times, I think as black African women (bAw), we spend a lot of time recognizing and articulating the odds that we are up against. We frequently discuss the odds against us in the pursuit of a solid education and a successful professional career, a Godly marriage, heathy high-achieving children, and a good standard of living in general. Many of us spend many years wishing for and praying hard for that school, that job, that man, those kids, that house, those clothes, but we spend very little time praying in advance for the grace and power to manage all those blessings effectively when God grants them. Proverbs 31 describes a woman who has been blessed immensely by God in all facets of her life but we see that she needs to work hard and exhibit many impressive skills to manage that success.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” This means that He has the power to grant all our hearts’ desires, including success at home and work, according to His will. It also means He is a ready source for strength and courage to help us manage, to our full potential, those blessings that He grants us. I’m always going to need to tap into His source of strength and to draw from His well that never runs dry because this Proverbs 31 woman that I speak of, she can, by His grace, be me.

 

What are your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman? Do you think she’s realistic or should we just take lessons from her? Would love to hear your thoughts!

With love,

Ehui

 

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Ehui Osei-Mensah is a gorgeous childhood friend of mine who hails from the beautiful country called Ghana in West Africa but currently lives in the Washington DC with her small family. Ehui is a wife and mother of a beautiful little girl. She is a Christian and currently works as the Content Director at Hanover Research. She is a smart young woman with a bubbly personality and a love for Jesus.

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Thought-Provoking Tuesdays: Your Life

Sometimes we don’t take enough time to pause and reflect on our life and the meaning it possesses. Taking the time to do this allows us to be grateful and to appreciate what we have, and to encourage us to continue moving forward.

I think my answer would be: Miracle

What’s yours? Post your answer in the Comments section 🙂

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Photo Cred: Thought Questions Online

 

5 Warning Signs of a Christian Guy Who is Going to Waste Your Time

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Photo Cred: Madame Noire Online

I’ve been witnessing and reflecting on a rather disturbing way of relating between guys and girls in our society today – and most especially in the church. Particularly how girls allow themselves to become entangled with a guy who is leading them nowhere slowly. I’d like to call this kind of man “The Illusionist”. No, I’m not talking about a magician. I’m not referring to a movie or a book. I’m talking about a young man who has no real plan for his life and wants to drag you along for the ride. The reason I am focusing on the Christian brother is because they have become skilled in leading church girls on. They use the fact that we’re all at church to their advantage because girls let their guard down (believing they can trust a Church guy over one outside the Church) and not to mention some of these brothers throw God into the mix of messing with girls. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way an article bashing Christian brothers. I just believe that the truth needs to be said as it is and also so that the Christian sisters catch a wake up call cause they can’t just blame the brothers.

 

Anyway, let’s begin by painting a picture of what tends to happen: Guy meets girl. They hit it off. They realize they have so much in common and they enjoy chatting for hours; exchanging ideas and poetry or books; accompanying each other to different outings/gatherings with friends etc. Soon they begin to flirt and “connect” – catching each other’s eyes from across the room and giving a knowing look when something happens that they’ve spoken about before. They become comfortable around each other and sometimes find themselves standing/sitting very close to each other or occasionally brushing hands and/or other body parts.

 

Then one day someone (usually the guy) suggests that they go out to do something together (just the two of them) that they enjoy or have spoken about. It’s all so exciting! They “hang out” a couple of times in this manner. They begin to talk about their dreams and wishes for their life – the kind of person they want to marry; where they would want to live; the kind of holidays they will take with their family and and and. They can no longer go a day without talking and people around them begin to make jokes about how cute they are together and they giggle it off by saying indignantly “we’re just friends!”

 

But the truth is, they are now way past “just friends”.

 

At this point, feelings have been caught. Castles have been built in the air and intimacy has developed (usually at a rapid pace). It is here that one of these two begins to desire more out of this “friendship” and I’ve found that most times it is the girl. It becomes clear that the woman is interested but the guy starts to become hot and cold – calling and flirting and caring sometimes, then becoming aloof and a bit distant at other instances. And this is where the cookie crumbles. The girl starts to question whether or not this guy likes her, and cue confusion, anxiety, fear, insecurities and all their aunties and uncles. It’s a hot mess. It usually doesn’t end well and it usually goes on for much longer than it should.

Eventually, the guy (from experiencing pressure from the girl) decides to tell her that they are just friends and have always been so why the big fuss. It indirectly becomes her fault and they “break up” and things become super awkward.

It’s a terrible place to be in because you are lying to yourself, to each other and to everyone around you. Sooner or later, that lie catches up to you and knocks you way off your feet. You go through excruciating thoughts about your worth and you resent men again and have to get over that. Also, you lose what could have been a really great friend. I decided to write this post because I speak to so many different young women and this topic comes up a lot lately. It seems that this is a pattern amongst young people and I think we need to break it. At all costs ladies, we must try our best to avoid “The Illusionist” and wait for a more genuine and godly man. You need to be able to recognize the characteristics of this kind of guy so as to avoid him – after all, you are responsible for your own life and heart. We can’t only blame the guys. So, here are a few signs of an “Illusionist” as I have come to understand them:

 

  1. He’s Overly Familiar Pretty Quickly: This guy treats you like you’ve known each other forever! He’s really comfortable with placing his hand around your waist or giving you a cute nickname. The thing is, this makes us as women feel seen and wanted. It’s a fact – women want to be loved and part of being loved means to be given special attention. However, I think it is problematic when a guy has not known you long at all and he’s already acting like you’re married. It is an indication of his inability to pace himself. He will soon run out of steam, even if you were to enter into a committed relationship.

 

  1. He Marks You As His Own Without Telling You: Further to the above, “The Illusionist” is quick to make you his “person”. You know – he’ll be sure to sit with you in church or at social gatherings, and sit very close at that. He’ll say things like “Oh yeah Thando likes to do this and to say that” to highlight that he’s more familiar with you than others are. He will embrace you and linger with that eye contact during the people (in public) raising questions in people’s minds about who you are to him. Again, these are things that bring us such joy as women. But a man who treats you as his own when he has not even asked your permission, is a thief. He is not a gentleman. A true gentleman understands that you are a woman who belongs first to God and then to a set of parents or guardians. He will respect that about you, and will treat you that way until he has verbally requested to enter into a more exclusive relationship with you. Think about it, even God knocks at the door of your heart (Revelation 3:20). He doesn’t just make Himself welcome although you are already His. He wants you to agree first.

 

  1. He’s Got the Whole ‘Troubled Soul’ Thing Going On: So, “The Illusionist” has some serious issues. I mean, we all do. But his are intense and woeful and earth-shattering. He’s told you about his terrible circumstances growing up – how he grew up without a parent or grew up eating one meal a week or faced abuse and discrimination etc. He gives you all the details and it seems his life could fall apart at any moment. He’s such a victim. He tells you that you give him so much hope and encouragement. He doesn’t know how he would survive without you. As a woman, this makes you feel wanted. You feel special. I mean, this guy needs you! You soon become his second mama though, and you find yourself in a co-dependent situation. A genuine guy does not offload his issues on you with the expectation that you make it all better. Yes he shares his struggles and past hurts (at a certain level of relating – not from the get go) but he will not make you feel like you’re his only hope. Jesus is his hope. And he’s man enough to deal with his issues.

 

  1. He Gives “If You Were My Wife” Scenarios: As you become more familiar in your “friendship”, brother-man starts to tell you in passing what the deal would be if you were his wife. Maybe he’s making an example of what he wants in his relationship and uses you as the substitute for his wife. He’s basically building attachments in your heart without the actual commitment. He’s growing your affections with no real purpose to fulfil them. He is being a coward and he’s getting temporary pleasure without the pains of commitment. A good man will not mislead you. He will be clear about where you stand in his life. Whether you are his friend or someone he is developing feelings for, and he will not unnecessarily cultivate romantic thoughts in your mind that he is not ready to fulfil. Granted we sometimes get caught up in our feelings but a real man will take responsibility when he’s messed up and work at protecting you.

 

  1. His Life Seems Purposeless: The “Illusionist” may on the surface appear to be deep and have a greater insight into life. He can quote books and poems, and can debate politics and religion. He can even pray. He’s smart and engaging, and usually people look up to him and admire him in the Church. But. When you really pay attention and give it some time to get to know him, you realize that he’s all over the place. He’s not really sure if he wants to be a doctor or just go save kids in a remote country in Africa or hang out with friends at parties or become an Evangelist. He lives in the now while dreaming of a possible future, and he has no real understanding of his purpose or even a desire to discover it. He may be “working towards it”, but he’s been at it for the last 10 years. He may even be serving in the church and all, but there’s no real growth that you can see. Walk away from that brother before you get caught up in his mess. A genuine guy knows what God has called him to do, and if he doesn’t yet, he is seeking out his purpose in Christ. Often, he won’t want to include you in his confusion until he’s sure.

 

There is so much more to “The Illusionist” but I wanted to give you the basic warning signs to look out for as I’ve come to understand them. God has instructed us to guard our hearts above all else (Proverbs 4:23) sisters. Allowing someone access to your heart and personal space is no joke. So ladies, be very conscious of who deserves that airtime. We can’t be angry at these guys who lead us on when we naively and happily give them the room to do so. Leave that brother in the hands of Jesus to make whole. It’s not your job. My prayer is that God activates a discerning spirit within us and that we are vigilant ourselves by meditating on the good qualities of a godly man, so that we can avoid the wrong kind of men. Also for wisdom to know how to conduct ourselves in our relationships with the opposite sex.

 

Have you ever experienced an “Illusionist”? What other signs would you say are there to watch out for? Maybe you don’t believe there is such a person as an “Illusionist”. I want to hear about it all!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

{NEW Feature} Her Story

Hi bAw family!

So, I decided to make this whole getting to understand who the black African woman (bAw) is much more practical for us and decided to get on the ground to ask the different bAw themselves what they wish the world understood about them. This will be a monthly feature titled “Her Story” and if you are a bAw who has something they would LOVE the world to understand about you and your fellow sisters, please feel free to drop me an email at sonia.dube3@gmail.com or contact me on any of my social platforms and we’ll put your feature together 😉

You can check this feature (and much more) on my Twitter and Insta pages or on my Facebook page.

See below for today’s “Her Story” by Lorna. Enjoy 🙂


 

Lorna

Lorna from South Africa

What I wish the world understood about black African women (bAw) is…

“They [bAw] are the most dynamic people you will ever find. They have so much life in them. They carry genuine smiles that tell stories. Truly unshakable and resilient. The ultimate hustlers and originators of true beauty and style.”

Thank you Lorna for giving us insight into your story for the bAw!