Working on the back end of Grit and Grace Life has lots of perks. I get to work with Darlene, who if you don’t know by now, is a font of knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement. I get to pray with and work alongside an amazing team of women. I get to share a message I am passionate about. And, in maybe the most surprising perk of all, I get to see what you, our readers, want to read about.
You want to read lots of things. It seems like you’re searching for the things that make our hearts ache. You’re searching for hope. You’re searching for peace. You’re searching for something that makes you feel less alone, for someone to write something that makes you exclaim, out loud, “Me TOO!”
But there is one consistent search that puzzles me. As it turns out, many of you want to know what makes a woman virtuous. It’s searched often enough that it’s clear to us that you really want to know what this virtuous woman thing is all about.
In full transparency, this is not something I would ever search. Considering that I, as a woman who just used words that would make Satan blush while stuck in traffic, would never even utter the words “virtuous woman,” much less search for them.
Which makes me the obvious choice to address this need, right?
But that didn’t stop Darlene, in all of her wisdom, from asking me to do it anyway.
I thought about it a lot before putting my words down and while I don’t know much, I think I know this: when we’re searching the term “virtuous woman,” we’re really searching ourselves. What does it mean to be a woman of God? How do I do this when it seems so hard? How am I supposed to be a good Christian woman/wife/mother when I can’t even seem to go one day, no, one hour, without messing up?
This is what we’re searching for…
We’re not searching from a place of pride. We are searching from a place of desperation and guilt. This bastion of Christian womanhood, held up for years as our ideal, seemingly impossible for us to meet. We know what the Proverbs 31 woman looks like, yes, and she’s pretty much virtuous woman 101, but we can’t seem to get there. And we want to know how.
In light of this, maybe I am the perfect woman for this job. Mostly because I am well aware of all of the ways I am not, on a daily and hourly basis, virtuous. Maybe, when I break it down like this, I am a shining example of this search in real life.
The Oxford Dictionary defines virtuous this way: having or showing high moral standards.
We can all agree on this. It’s universal. But what does that even mean? I’ll be the first to say I’m not sure. Sure, I want to have and show high moral standards. But do I? Depends on the minute. But maybe if we break it down in simple Grit and Grace terms, it will make a bit more sense. Maybe the Grit and Grace definition looks more like this:
A virtuous woman loves God, loves others, loves herself, and knows grace.
Loving God: This was Jesus’s first commandment to us. “Love God.” It’s that simple. It is our greatest commandment. We all know this, right? It looks different depending on the day and depending on our lives. Sometimes, when our life is calm and our hearts are settled, it might look like a steady prayer time every morning, worship music in our cars, and a lot of conscious time spent talking with Jesus. But loving God doesn’t have one exclusive look. When times are rough and your days are crazy, it might look like a passing prayer in the carpool line and one quick “thank you, Jesus” before your eyes close on the pillow. Loving God is in our hearts; it’s the basis of our faith. Loving Him first and foremost is virtue, no matter how it plays out in your day to day life (trust me, it’s a sliding scale).
Loving Others: Remember that first commandment from Jesus? This was his second. This is loving your people well, even when you’re tired and worn out. It’s loving others, helping out at schools, serving at church, volunteering your time to your favorite cause. It’s little acts of kindness to strangers and putting others first, in both big and small ways. As women, we do this so well, often to the detriment of ourselves. But this is it—the virtuous woman loves others. Sometimes it’s pretty and clean, and other times it’s messy and uncomfortable and we feel like a failure. But it’s still the same. Love others.
Loves Herself: Oh women, this is a lifelong struggle. Sometimes, we feel proud and confident and love ourselves as God made us. Others, not so much. It’s hard to figure out exactly how to love ourselves when we’re using our own lens. As my harshest critic and biggest bully, I find this excruciating on bad days. But it’s not my lens that counts. It’s God’s. And even when my faith is small and I’m struggling to believe it, I can rest on the truths that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and loved as God’s own creation, as his child. It’s imperfect at best, another sliding scale, but loving ourselves, warts and all, is as virtuous as it gets.
Knows Grace: At GnG, we define grace as showing kindness to ourselves and others, even when it’s hard. Grace is the very bedrock of the virtuous woman’s life, mostly because, well, it’s so freaking hard to be virtuous all of the time. In fact, grace tells us we don’t have to be perfect to be virtuous. Jesus was perfect. He lived that way for us. Grace, though, is how we give ourselves kindness when we fall short and also how we find the grit to get back up and try again. Grace is how we forgive others for their humanity and their sin and how we do the same for ourselves. Grace is maybe the most important component of a virtuous woman’s life.
Listen, I might never truly understand what a virtuous woman is. BUT, I do understand now that a virtuous woman is not virtuous because of anything she does (or doesn’t do). In fact, she will mess up in both big and small ways, many times in her life. No, she’s actually virtuous because of the state of her heart. She is virtuous because she tries every single day to do her best and to show God’s love to herself and others. She is not perfect, never will be, but she loves hard and gives her all and steps into grace when she can’t. This is the real world virtuous woman, Grit and Grace style, and I, for one, can get behind her.
For more on being a strong woman of grit and grace, we recommend:
100 Things a Grit and Grace Woman Believes
To the Christian Woman With a Crooked Past
Finding Your Grit Just When You Are Sure You Don’t Have Any
10 Behaviors Found in the Inspired Woman
Our Struggles Are Different, but His Grace Is Equal
Stop Look and Listen to People Passing By
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Are You the Proverbs 31 Woman? Should You Be? – 092!