"She finds wool and flax and busily spins it."
In a former chapter of life, when I was raising my daughter, I started a small business in my home. Well, at least it started out as a small business. In a few short years this small business took over both my home and my life! What began as a seamstress trying to make ends meet as a single mom, eventually developed into a complete line of soft sculpture designer characters for decorating the home. As the designs expanded, so did a following of collectors, as did the hours and space required to produce my product. Needless to say, I had worked myself into a more-than-full-time livelihood which spanned fifteen years of my adult life.
I know full well the meaning of working with your hands. Though the true meaning is not as clear in the New Living Translation, above, this passage is about the work of our hands. Let's take a look at two other versions to pull out the heart behind this verse:
"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands." New King James Version
"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands." New International Version
Here we find that she is more actively in pursuit of her materials. She doesn't just "find" it, but she "seeks" or "selects" the fibers that she will spin. For the woman of her generation, this wasn't so much a choice but a necessity. The woman of the home was responsible for running the household. Like it or not, that included spinning wool into yarns and fibers, weaving flax into linen for clothing and bedding and all the things we so readily purchase at our favorite department store. If you are not one who enjoys crafting or sewing, you might really loathe the thought that this is included in the list of virtues of a Godly woman.
However, if we take a step back from the actual task at hand, we see that it's not so much the task to which she is applying herself. It's the attitude with which she is working: "busily", "willingly", "eager"ly. She is not lying around the house, bemoaning the fact that there is woman's work that needs doing. Or, if she works away from home, she doesn't take on the attitude that she is the only one in the world who has to work. She is up and at it! She's eager to git'er done! To do something "with willing hands" literally means "in the delight of her hands". Her hands are happy when she applies them to her work...and so is her heart!
Isn't this the truth, ladies? When we sit and think about the unending cycle of laundry that's piling up around us or the dishes needing washed or the typical chores of running a household or helping to make a living, it can get pretty depressing. We can really get a nasty negative attitude. But when we survey what needs done and get busy doing it, we feel a whole lot better! And, so does our family.
A New Attitude
We wear so many hats. There are times when we wonder how we will ever get it all done. Are you feeling overwhelmed with the work that's piling up around you? Maybe you're a new mother, with a demanding infant or toddler, wishing you could actually put your hand to the task. Or, whether you work full-time and taxi everyone around and wonder when you're supposed to manage the household affairs. Or, maybe you suffer physically and your heart truly longs to do the things a healthy woman is capable of. Whatever your life looks like, most of it boils down to the same thing...managing the work of our hands and approaching it positively.
Here's what I have found to work. In your quiet time, make a list of all the things you are trying to juggle. Then, rather than allowing everything to consume your mind at the same time and drain you of your peace, simply do the next thing that needs doing. And, don't be afraid to ask for help! You don't have to do it alone.
Not so busy these days? Look around for a woman you can invest in. Give a helping hand to a new mother by giving her a day out or cleaning her home or doing her laundry. Go grocery shopping for the elderly. Cook a meal for someone who is ill. Get those hands to work and your heart will be singing again!
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up."