She is like the merchant ships,
Bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
She provides food for her family
And portions for her servant girls. (Proverbs 31:14-15)
January is over (huzzah!), and already some of my resolutions have gone to pot. I didn’t tell anyone about these resolutions—to avoid eating candy and to make better meals for my family—because I didn’t need their judgment, like the side-long look I get from administrative assistant when I go digging through her candy bowl for the good stuff. Actually, I have made a few better meals for my family, but my boys’ moaning about the delicious spinach lasagna—“can’t I just have pizza pockets?”—was enough to set me off my resolution to cook well for my family forever. If my kids would rather eat crap I can shove in the microwave, why spend an hour trying to make something healthy?
Clearly, I need some food advice if I’m going to survive the next eleven months (you know, until I resolve to eat well again). What better place to find that godly model of healthful eating for self and family than the Proverbs 31 woman, who does everything perfectly. So I turned again to the book by Donna Partow: Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90-Day Plan to Living the Proverbs 31 Life. As you might remember, I was a little Proverbs 31ish by paying $5 for it on Amazon last fall, which means that I am fiscally savvy, a true mark of the biblical woman. Five months have passed since I bought the book, though, and I’ve not started on the 90-day plan, which may be my problem. My February 1 resolution, though, is to become the woman God wants me to be, in this case by following Proverbs 31:14-15, quoted above.
As you can read yourself from the scripture, everything about this passage in Proverbs screams healthy eating. But unlike secular dieting books, which tell you what to eat and when, the biblically-sanctified Proverbs plan tells you what to eat and when by offering parallels to scripture. So, for example, look at the first line of the passage: “She is like a merchant ship, bringing her food from afar.” An interesting simile, one that might suggest the woman’s savvy ability to procure food for her family. But what it really means is that women everywhere should go through their cupboards, throwing away old or expired foods, as well as ones that are processed. “Your children may be very unhappy indeed,” we are warned, when we throw away processed food, but heck, they’ll be less upset than I will, especially if I have to toss the Lucky Charms, my late-night comfort.
(Something tells me the Proverbs 31 woman has no Lucky Charms, though, nor does she have late nights, nor does she use food for comfort. She has a husband for that.)
At this point, the Proverbs 31 prescription feels entirely too much like any self-improvement/dieting show I’ve seen on TV, where Oprah Winfrey or Jillian Michaels rummage through some poor sap’s cupboards, extracting all the crappy foods and embarrassing the person for even buying Ding-Dongs, let alone eating them. And I wonder again, why do Christians feel the need to slap biblical endorsement on any reasonable activity? Isn’t it okay to say that healthy women generally don’t eat a lot of processed food? Wouldn’t that be convincing enough? Why apply a Bible verse that has, at best, a tenuous connection with what is being preached?
But okay, maybe I’m just a little defensive, since I can already feel the Proverbs 31 life slipping from me. So after I skim through Partow’s chapters on eating reasonable portions and resolving to control my eating habits—two actions I rarely adhere to already—I am stopped short again by this edict. As a Proverbs 31 woman, I need to plan my meals ahead, and the best approach to doing this is, apparently, purchasing and using a crock pot. Because, somehow, the biblical model was able to slow cook her goat and manna, or whatever they ate in her time, “getting up while it is still dark” to fire up the cooker, so her servants could get their portions by dinner time.
Oh, and I should also plan ahead by creating healthy snacks for myself, things I can stash in my purse or home cupboard for when I’m peckish. (Apparently, the Proverbs 31 woman does not keep mini candy bars in her desk at work, because she has no outside job, nor any desk. Nor does she eat mini candy bars.) And, of course, like any other health plan, those snacks should be fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Yes, like every other diet plan I’ve read, Proverbs endorsed or otherwise, the prescription for snacks is a handful of nuts. As if nuts alone, without the addition of caramel nougat and chocolate, could ever be satisfying.
So apparently I’m continuing to fail at Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be, and I’ve not yet reached details of the cleansing diet that will, I’m told, make me whole. Because, I guess, the Proverbs 31 woman used a good colon blow now and again to purify herself; maybe that’s why she was so successful at everything she did. Perhaps I’ll make that my March resolution—an intestinal cleanse to carry my happily into spring. Check back in a month.
In the meantime, should you and I meet at some after-school event or fancy noontime soiree, and I mention—through a mouthful of nuts—that I’m slow-cooking dinner, you’ll know that I’m finally on my way to winning God’s pleasure.