About two years ago I wrote a very long – probably too long – post centered on Proverbs 31:15, which was part of an even longer series that became a book now in our living room, on the virtuous Proverbs 31 woman.
“She rises while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and makes portions for her female servants.”
To me it was such a beautiful verse, like each verse in that short passage is! BUT… it actually was one of the posts that got a lot of interesting negative posts & comments from a few sites, as even fellow Christian women tried to accuse me of being “malicious,” a “shill,” or a Pharisee “tying heavy burdens onto the backs of wives,” while myself not being able to do what I wrote about.
Here’s Elspeth’s comment back then accusing me of such, from here:
“On seeing your husband off: It’s another one of those issues where our goals can be out of step with what our husbands require. Just yesterday I was scrambling around, behind schedule, not getting it done at the pace I wanted. My husband, who is used to- and fully comfortable with- being waited on said to me, “You know, I can iron my own shirt and pack my lunch today. Chill out.”
And we don’t even have any toddlers underfoot. I have a hard time believing that other husbands are not understanding, patient, and willing to assist their wives when they are doing the best they can while living on less sleep and chasing toddlers. I am reminded of something Jesus said to the Pharisees as it relates to all the things a wife is supposed to do perfectly with no rest and little relief:
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. Matt 23:4″
I ended up taking the series down, but the post may be available in the wayback machine for looking up. I do remember taking great pains in that post and in the comments to tell women to do what one’s husband wants his wife to do. There was even a female commenter who asked us (my husband and I) if this verse was to be applied to her, since she worked overnight as a nurse, and we both told her it’s whatever her husband wanted. It’s the principle behind each verse that matters.
But also I didn’t skirt around all the research that shows that being an early riser is actually a very beneficial thing, and may be connected to why it was mentioned in the Proverbs 31 passage as being something the virtuous woman would make a habit. Study after study has seemed to prove the this principle in the Bible is correct – that being an early riser, being prepared for the day ahead or spending time with God in the morning – really does help in all kinds of ways in benefiting one’s life.
Here’s an excerpt from that post from my paper version:
“In taking the time to look through each of these verses, it has really amazed me how beautiful this woman’s character is. Everything she does is motivated by the desire in her heart to be a woman of God, to love her husband, and to care for those who are in her life. In verse 15, it’s like we get to peer through her window, and watch how she quietly contributes to her household management through the efforts of something simple, and yet profound, her morning routine. …
When writing this post, I found myself wondering if there really were any benefits to waking up early, aside from just getting a head start on the day, or some quiet time in before your children are up. Those are great things to pursue! But I’ve often heard and thought myself, that quiet time could be done even in the evening if that suited a person’s schedule better, and that it doesn’t take waking up at 5am in order to get a “head start” on the day – some women would much prefer to wake up only 30 minutes before they have to leave, and even more prefer to sleep until their children wake them up. We like to equalize everyone’s preferences or lifestyle in order to not offend people, but what I found was that there really are some great advantages that come with early rising, that we’ll miss out if we choose to sleep in!
The early riser increases their productivity –
Waking up early shows our virtuous woman values productivity, which is a cornerstone to leading a successful life or even business venture. When interviewing over 200 of the most highly successful people of the world, Forbes Magazine was surprised how many focused on their morning routines as being their “secret” to success. … [examples cited in the post]
Not only does nurturing your mind in the morning with prayer and Scripture reading give you inspiration for the day, just the practice of waking early can give you more control and motivation in your life. According to a Journal of Applied Social Psychology study in 2009, early risers were more likely to confidently assert things like: “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself,” and “I feel in charge of making things happen,” (2). They don’t find themselves living a life of constant crises and urgent situations, but feel a healthy assurance of some control of what happens. This same study found that “morning people are more likely to anticipate problems and minimize them.” When we wake up early and have time to think and plan in solitude, we find ourselves foreseeing possibilities that may crop up during the day (or week).”
I then rambled on for a few more pages about Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People where he breaks down time management into a quadrant, then I wrote on the importance of getting enough sleep (sticking to a good bedtime), the effects on health and weight related to sleep schedules, the importance of discipline in our lives, how oversleep actually contributed to depression in women, etc. Again… it was probably too long, the whole post was more like a “chapter,” but I did try to cover multiple aspects of why the verse made sense logically, even in our modern day culture.
I even found research studies that followed students and their daily habits, which showed that early risers earned a full point higher on their GPAs (3.5’s compared to 2.5’s), than those students who called themselves “night owls” (5). Rising early – the principle at least of taking care of what needs to be taken care of and preparing for the day ahead – I do believe it is part of having a “Spirit of Excellence,” where we consciously decide to do the best at whatever it is God has given us to do. Sleeping late – sleeping in – if it’s a part of our daily routine, may not have the same mental and psychological effects, and therefore have different life results.
Rising Early … with babies?
Throughout the years of our marriage, even with having multiple children – babies nursing at all times of the night, I still find that waking up early (5am or 5:30am) to spend that quiet time with God is so crucial to my faith longterm – and it impacts my entire day! I’m just not the same without it. He literally changes my perspective and helps me deal with the day ahead with a much better attitude. I’m definitely not perfect or always want to follow through with this goal. There are some times when I’m not able to get up early, but I do notice a difference in my heart and attitude if I miss a couple of days in a row. I need God all day, but especially in the early mornings before anyone else has woken up, so that I can spend time alone with Him and reading and studying His Word.
There’s also the principle of giving God your “first fruits.” For anyone who has ever seriously studied the Bible, it’s apparent that God wants our best – and yes, that usually means we are required to sacrifice in order to give it to Him. He wants our “first fruits.”
The first 10% of your pay (the normal tithe), the firstborn of your children (an Old Testament Jewish custom), the first day of the week devoted to Him (the Sabbath), even the first of the people’s grain (their food) was to be given to the Lord – before they were allowed to harvest anything for themselves! It makes total sense that a woman’s early morning time should probably be first devoted to God, no matter when she wakes up. 🙂
In fact, Jesus Himself spent time alone with His Father early in the morning. There’s something just very mysterious about that early morning time that even I can’t put my finger on.
“AND IN THE MORNING, RISING UP A GREAT WHILE BEFORE DAY, HE WENT OUT, AND DEPARTED INTO A SOLITARY PLACE, AND THERE PRAYED.” — MARK 1:35
It’s not that I’m trying to be a Pharisee. It’s more that I find simple beauty in the verse, “she rises while it is still night to prepare food for her household….” The beautiful sacrifice she gives, the caring for others first, the being a good steward of her time and of running a household. It simply touches my soul. And yes! I do try to do this in my daily life!
Giving God the first of my day, everyday, it has given me immense blessings over the years. It’s kept my faith strong, even when I felt weak. It’s given me courage and fortitude, even when I felt afraid or exhausted. He has been my Rock in some of the most trying times! I really don’t think my faith would have persevered the way it’s done without prioritizing that time with Him in the morning to replenish my spirit. There have been countless times that I woke up with a desire to read His Word, but with heavy emotions in my heart, and I came away with gladness, praise and joy! I’ve found the meaning of “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.” This is part of why I believe that God leaves these choices up to us in deepening our faith and growing spiritually.
He fills my cup – He makes it overflow (Psalm 23)… it’s better than even coffee!
From His Word, I draw my strength in the mornings, before I have to do anything else.