“She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31:25
This is a quote from the Bible about the strength and dignity of women, what we would call, in today’s language, empowered women.
I think the main difference between the view of women’s empowerment from the time of Proverbs and the contemporary society is that in those days the empowerment, strength, and dignity was viewed as extrinsic while today, with the advent of modern understandings of things like self esteem and psychology, is seen as intrinsic.
Does this mean that God cannot play a role in your sense of empowerment? Of course not! For many people it is very much part of the fabric of their identity, part of what clothes them everyday. We were told at Church when I was growing up that Jesus was the Light of the World and we were to walk as a child of the light and keep the light burning brightly inside of us. To this day, I remember hearing this idea presented at my sister’s Christening. I think I was all of seven, but it was a very powerful message, particularly with all the symbolism and ceremony involved.
When you are clothed in strength and dignity and walk as a child of the light, be it from a psychological or spiritual perspective, you can laugh without fear of the future. Does this mean that the future is always going to be happy and fun? I do not think so. I think it means that you are confident in the future because you know, be it from your own empowerment or your belief in God, or both, that you will be okay and be able to handle anything that happens.
This idea of laughing without fear of the future also, to me, brings up the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is more fleeting and related to what is happening in the moment. Joy is a deeper emotion and is not necessarily dependent on what is happening in the moment. I think of this song we were taught at Bible camp. “I’ve got joy, down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. J-O-Y down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. Jesus put it there, and nothing can destroy it…” Joy is something that can sustain you in the tough times, something that can live inside you even in times that may not be the happiest.
The laughing without fear of the future also connotes a sense of certainty and a lack of anxiety about what is to come because you know you will be able to handle what ever will happen. This is what a psychologist might call confidence. If you are confident, you radiate strength and competence and stand in your own power. Confidence is not exactly the same as self esteem. Self esteem is believing in your own intrinsic worth. Confidence is believing in your ability to succeed in or handle things that happen.
The difference between what is described by contemporary psychology and what is described in the Bible is really just a difference in nomenclature. Really the goals are the same. Strong and empowered women are important in the fabric of society and help raise the next generation. Always walk as a child of the light with strength and dignity!
by Julie Morse