I want to start this post by giving a big birthday shout-out to my best friend Ashley! It's a little late, but I hope it is still appreciated. If you know Ashley, you should tell her happy birthday, she's pretty great.
Today I am supposed to receive my travel plans, it hasn't happened yet, but there is still a lot of day left. Maybe once I have them in hand it will hit me that I'm actually leaving. I know in my head that I only have 10 days left, but my heart is still feeling like I might just serve the duration of my mission in the MTC trying to learn Korean.
I have learned a lot in the MTC, a little Korean, but mostly I have learned things about myself. I realize more each day what I want my mission to be, as well as who I am striving to become. The MTC has been difficult, however, overall it has been a good experience for me and I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend here.
This week in my personal study I had the scripture that titles this post pop into my head. I couldn't remember where it was so I went to the topical guide in the scriptures and looked it up. After I found it and re-read it I thought, "that's a really good scripture". However, I realized that I had never read the verses surrounding it. So I had no idea the context in which that scripture is given. Often we focus, (we meaning I), on a singular verse of scripture and fail to be enlightened because our focus is too narrowly defined by “pop” church cultural connotations. But as I pondered the chapter as a whole, and particularly verses 10-31, I began thinking about the attributes of a virtuous woman, especially in contemporary society. This started me thinking about the kind of woman I want to be.
Females in today's popular society set an example that I personally find less than desirable. There is so much importance put on our appearance and being physically appealing, not just to men, but to other women also. This creates an environment that disregards virtue of any kind. The word virtue means moral ethics, or things that are right and good. It is not that beauty is not good, as I am sure beauty comes from God. But physical beauty defined by society is arbitrary and it can and does change with each generation. However, I believe that virtue is what ignites lasting beauty. As I was reading I noted several virtues that are derided in our culture, I guess you could call them lost virtues, specifically, kindness, poise and grace, (or what my mother calls class), and charity. As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I know that I am more than my body. I know that I have more to offer the world than a pretty face or figure. My understanding of my divine heritage tells me this. I know that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father. I recognize my divine nature is what comprises my essence, rather than my body. I also know that my body is a very important part of my earthly life. It is a fascinating and wonderful machine that is capable of amazing things. As it is part of my whole self I do not want to discount my body, as it will be with me for eternity. In that context I recognize that I need to take care of it, keep it fit and healthy, clean and shiny, and adorn it to respect that divinity within me. It is this understanding through which I know that I am important, loved, and cherished in God's eyes.
In Proverbs 31 I have found the example of the woman that I want to become, regardless if it is revered in contemporary society.
In verse 17 it says, "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." A virtuous woman isn't weak. This verse tells us that she strengtheneth her ams. She is in the process. We do not know when it started, but we know that it is still continuing and that it is a conscious effort on her part to become stronger. What I love about the way it is stated here is that this woman might not have been born with this strength. For all we know she might have started out the weakest of them all, however she did not let herself stay that way. In our lives we might not feel like we are the strongest or the best, but we can change that. Through diligent effort on our part and with the help of our Heavenly Father we can become stronger, physically, mentally, and spiritually. As Latter-day Saint women we should be recognized as one who “ girdeth her loins with strength”.
In verse 22 it tells us, "her clothing is silk and purple". Historically purple is identified as the color of royalty, and silk was considered the finest and costliest woven cloth. The symbolism of this verse identifies the virtuous woman as the daughter of a king, worthy of all the royal rights promises, and blessings that come with her status. I know that in the church we hear that phrase a lot, we say it often and it is told to us from a very early age. I wonder however, if we feel a truth of our conviction behind the words. Ask yourself, do I actually know and believe that I am a princess? A daughter of a king? I hope you do.
In verse 26 speaking of her character we are told, "in her tongue is the law of kindness". In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that we should strive to remember that everyone we come in contact with is also a child of God and so should be treated as such. Personally I feel it would be wonderful if people described me as having the “law of kindness in my tongue”. Kindness is an incredible attribute and one that I know I will probably never have enough of. My mother has often told me she thinks it is the most underrated personal attribute of ones character. I am just now beginning to see what she means. I'm not sure if it is ever possible to have enough kindness, it is this trait of my Savior that I want to work on.
The last quote I want to share from this chapter is the last verse, it reads, "Give her the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates". Ladies, it is what we sow that defines our beauty. If we live our lives striving to be the best we can and draw as close to God as we can, no one will ever have to ask whether or not we were virtuous. Our works and our actions will speak for themselves. That is what I believe beauty is. It comes in a majestic cacophony of colors, heights, weights, talents, and means, and it is what graces the presence of our Savior.
I hope you are all doing well and I miss you all terribly.