Chayil | Proverbs 31:10
The first time I heard this beautiful Hebrew word in April of 2014, something about it resonated deep within me. As a baby conceived with Cystic Fibrosis – a life-threatening genetic illness that pegged my life expectancy at around 8 years old – I was, quite literally, born a fighter. However, CF was only the first of many fires awaiting me in this lifetime, and as a result, I spent the better part of ten years self-destructing in every way imaginable, determined that if I was going to die young, I was going to have a heck of a time doing it.
So when I was introduced to the marrow of chayil while deep in the trenches of my rock bottom… And I learned the black and white of it to be “excellence” and “valor”… My shame and unbelief found it easy to shrug off.
What I failed to understand then was that chayil isn’t something we muster up on our own. It knows no separation from, and is entirely dependent upon, our relationship with our Abba. And in time, we learn that to be a woman of chayil is to be a woman of innately-driven excellence. Strength. Beauty. And honor.
It is quiet courage and confidence that knows it doesn’t have to roar to make a difference, or shove its way into the spotlight to be heralded.
It is borne in the hard and holy and hidden places of our hearts. Places that are steeped in the value of being before doing, and that understand why Jesus promised that Mary held the better portion.
It is fully recognizing that we hold both the sword and its victory in our hands, yet still kneeling before Him and asking Him how to wield it.
It is a war cry, a desperate reminder of who and whose we are when the fight in front of us feels too big… Because most of the time, it is. And we should never be ashamed to admit we don’t have what it takes without Him.
It’s bold. It’s counter-cultural. It’s often mistaken for weakness, and almost always viewed as insane.
But that’s OK. So was our Jesus.
The essence of chayil is most often depicted as a fierce warrior woman. If I’m honest, that’s what I had in mind myself when I sat down to render this image. But as it began to come more and more alive, I realized He was driving home the heart of where our excellence, courage, and strength truly come from: Our union with Him.
Daughter of God, if this all seems intimidating to you, take heart, because you were made for this. The walk of a godly woman isn’t easy… It goes against every societal norm we’re taught, it draws mockers and critics, it costs us close friendships, and it consistently forces us to shed our comfort zones and step into the unknown, where tensions can be high but our Greatest Prize is higher. And by His grace, we come to realize we have nothing to fear. Because we’ve been bought with a price and adopted into His army to overcome lies with Truth, fear with faith, hatred with hospitality, and bitter with forgive. We weren’t made to give the world a piece of our minds, but a piece of His heart. And we were created to help heal, and leave this world that we’re in, but not of, in better shape than we found it.
Expect difficulties. Expect attacks. Expect setbacks, to be sure.
But more importantly, expect victory. Expect freedom. And expect to know the love and companionship of the God of the universe… Who is somehow also our personal Lord and Savior… Who is somehow also our Father who bends low to hear His children cry… So deeply that we shine His radiance from the inside out.
It will feel impossible at times, but that’s why He made us warriors.
That’s why He made us women of chayil.