“Smartest decision I ever made.” 19 years old, my dad proposed to my mother after her senior year violin recital. Reportedly she told him that would be impossible, and reportedly he spent the next half hour convincing her it wouldn’t bankrupt them both. Knowing my mother, the reports are accurate. Knowing my father, he isn’t wrong that proposing to her was the smartest decision he ever made.
My mom is a beast. My mom has kicked cancer in the teeth and runs triathlons. Not quite simultaneously, but close. She took a few days off each month for the chemotherapy, but even during treatments, she was well-known in her gym for her crazy workouts. I came home from college and joined her for a two-hour weights/cardio session once. “Good luck keeping up with that one!” a couple of men on bench-press warned me. I, collegiate soccer player that I was and in pretty good shape for the off-season, scoffed. An hour and a half later I left mom stair-stepping up Mount Katahdin while I collapsed into a noodley heap in the locker room.
If my mom’s a beast, I’m sure yours is too (definitionally, that’s how it works). Mine gave birth to two daughters, which is enough to earn the title, and teaches orchestra to hoodlum, hair-brained middle schoolers who adore her. My dad, who also teaches middle school orchestra, likes to inform me that she makes them incredible. “She plays pieces with her sixth-graders that my eight graders have trouble with. If your mother were in another profession, I could probably scam her into thinking I was good at what I do. As it is . . .”
A woman of valor, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. . . .
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband too, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears the lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned; let her works bring her praise at the city gates.
I see my mother in this “woman of valor” when she gets up “while it is still dark” to go to the gym and when she “sets about her work vigorously, her arms [freakishly] strong for their tasks.” Still, Proverbs 31 isn’t written for women of valor (they know who they are), but for all of us with women of valor in our lives and so I see Proverbs 31 played out perhaps the most when my mother is fast asleep in her chair and my father looks at her and shakes his head, disbelieving the wisdom of his 19-year-old self. “Smartest decision I ever made, marrying your mom.”
I hope everyone gets a chance today to hug their women of valor today and to tell the stories of what makes them great.
 More popularly known as a “wife of noble character.”
Elaine Schnabel (’11) spent her twenties traveling, blogging, and earning various master’s degrees. Now earning her PhD at the University of North Carolina in organizational communication, Elaine researches and writes at the intersection of religion and communication. You can find her blogging at Religious (Not Crazy).