Each morning, my 13-month-old and I enjoy a walk together. Sometimes, we just look for birds and squirrels. Some days, we chat with other mamas who are out walking.
Yesterday, we met one of our neighbors whose little boy is about four months old now, and she recently went back to working from home. “It’s hard,” she said.
“I get it,” I admitted. The work-from-home hat is one I wear myself. “You’re a full-time mom, full-time wife, and full-time worker, and you don’t feel as if you are doing any of them very well.”
Her eyes widened. “I just said those exact words to my husband yesterday.”
The conversation made me realize that the two of us are probably not the only ones experiencing feelings of scarcity in terms of time and energy. No doubt other mamas like us are craving the abundance Jesus promised when He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).
How do you live abundantly when you’re barely holding things together? The question made me turn to my Bible. What does it have to say for the working mom? Although women in Bible times didn’t work “outside the home” (or inside the home from our laptops) the way many of us do today, Bible women did work extremely hard.
One in particular stood out to me. Who is this woman? We don’t even know her name or if she simply represents godly women in general. Most call her the “Proverbs 31 virtuous woman,” a title which has caused some woman to roll their eyes because she seems so unachievable.
Comparison is one of our bitter enemies, so let’s dismiss any notion of competing with this woman. We’re not meant to “be” her. We are meant to learn from her to become the women God has uniquely called us to be. Here are a few ways she speaks to us working mamas:
#1: View your work as a blessing.
Did you know that the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 was a working mom? Consider some of the ways she worked (aside from household demands and children):
- Real estate: “She considers a field and buys it” (Proverbs 31:16a).
- Agriculture: “… with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard” (Proverbs 31:16b).
- Etsy Entrepreneur: “She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant” (Proverbs 31:24).
Her example challenges me when I’m logging in for work in the morning or when my little boy has finally gone to bed and I have maybe one hour to dedicate to my next contracted book.
The trouble—at least for me—comes when I compare myself to stay-at-home mom friends who don’t “work” in the general sense (though I realize their work never ends either). It can be easy to resent my job on days when coffee can’t fix my fatigue.
The truth is, though, that my work is a blessing. God has provided it and placed me in this situation “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14b). The Bible reminds us that God is faithful to see us through our challenges even when we’re not sure how to bear them (I Corinthians 10:13).
Are there times when a job change is necessary? When something must “give” in order to move forward? Absolutely. Those decisions are between you, your family, and God.
However, if we know we are where God has placed us (at least for now), we need to view our work as God’s provision for us—and a means to bless our families, just as the Proverbs 31 gal did.
#2: Say no to idle pastimes.
As I was reading Proverbs 31, one line stood out to me. “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).
What does the “bread of idleness” look like for you? Many of us could substitute Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or Pinterest. Though our unscheduled minutes may be few and far between, we all have them. Do we waste them scrolling through our feeds? I have certainly caught myself lost in a feed and wondering how fifteen minutes just evaporated.
Maybe it’s not social media. Maybe it’s Netflix or some other programming.
Taking time to rest is not wrong, but if our souls are feeling frazzled because we have so little time to spare, we can rediscover and reinvent our spare minutes with something edifying—like a chapter in Proverbs or a quick check-in with a friend—instead of staring at a screen.
#3: Desire God’s approval.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
The working mom doesn’t always hear thank you. We are busy in our roles and completing the tasks expected of us. Sometimes, the job seems thankless.
Whether others appreciate us or not, this verse reminds us that heaven’s praise is most important. What matters isn’t our charm, beauty, wit, or achievements, though we certainly want to look and do our best. What matters is that our words and actions reflect an awareness of God at work in our circumstances and that we seek to honor Him in our tasks, no matter how mundane.
God’s approval matters more than anyone else’s.
Fellow working mama, you are in good company with this Proverbs 31 woman. You are worthy of praise as you seek to honor God in your many roles.
Kristen Hogrefe Parnell
Kristen Hogrefe Parnell writes suspenseful fiction from a faith perspective for women and young adults. Her own suspense story involved waiting on God into her thirties to meet her husband, and she desires to keep embracing God’s plan for her life when it’s not what she expects. Kristen’s books have won the Selah Award and the Grace Award, among others. An educator at heart, she also teaches English online and enjoys being a podcast guest. Kristen lives in the Tampa, Florida area with her husband and baby boy. Connect with her at KristenHogrefeParnell.com.