The virtuous woman as described in Proverbs 31 is commonly set forth as a standard for Christian women and has always been a favorite of mine. While I fall sorely behind meeting that standard in many ways-especially the part about rising before dawn, one characteristic is especially fitting for me- the love of the color purple. In verse 22 it says: “She makes tapestry for herself: her clothing is fine linen and purple.” Long before I became a woman, purple was my favorite color. In fact it actually came to my rescue, once, saving me from a bully.
For me the middle school years, (Junior high as we called it then) were the most tumultuous part of growing up. Dealing with the daunting new responsibility of several classes, remembering locker combinations and battling emerging hormones, was a walk in the park next to the stress of peer pressures. To say I was a scrawny little kid was putting it kindly. Those of us who hadn’t yet caught up with the leaders of the pack-the already well endowed, beautiful and popular girls-faced a double dose of intimidation. Just about the time I felt secure in finding a best friend, another friend stepped in with divisive betrayal. They both turned against me with cutting and hurtful words that pierced deep into my spirit. So when a bully began taunting me too, it was almost more than I could handle.
Bullies didn’t just appear in the 21st century, they’ve been around a long time and mine was the girl who happened to have a locker next to mine in P.E. One of the other dreaded experiences of middle school was the embarrassing predicament of changing clothes and showering next to strangers. These revealing close quarters apparently ignited a rage of hatred towards me that was without merit. Every opportunity she had, this bully would taunt and intimidate me. One such day caught me “up-to-here” with her ugly threats.
I got in her face and told her if she didn’t stop bothering me, she would be sorry because, “I know karate.” Of course it was an unfounded threat, a bluff. About all I knew regarding karate was what I’d seen in movies and television. She immediately called my bluff.
“Oh yeah! What color belt do you have?” she challenged me.
My mind scrambled furiously for the right response to the punch she threw my way.
(Apparently there were multiple karate belt colors-who knew back then?)
“Purple,” I shouted back confidently, (while praying that belt color even existed in karate).
Turning from raging red to ghostly pale, the bully’s face revealed my well-placed blow had hit square on. She shrank back in retreat. Apparently, I’d chosen just the right color level-not too high-not too low to be a convincing foe.
The bully girl in the locker room never bothered me again. So, that was the day the color purple came to my rescue. Now, years later as a grown woman, I see in Proverbs 31:24 that the virtuous woman also “makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.” In verse 25 it goes on to say, “strength and honor are her clothing.” A sash is a kind of belt typically worn in Biblical days. How ironic I thought, as this scripture spoke to me today in new ways. I also wonder if the belts she provided for the merchants gave them a sense of confidence and strength as they faced the challenges of the marketplace while selling their wares. Some of them may have been purple too.
Ephesians 6:11-14 affirms that the underlying true belt that girds us against the enemy is God’s word. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil….Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,…” As you go out into the world today, be sure you have put a belt of truth around your waist, because you never know what kind of devilish bully may challenge you.
RAIN UPON IRON
Like rain upon iron,
Rejection produces rust.
And injustice withers the spirit,
If in you, we do not trust.
Temper me like steel, oh Lord.
Let my soul become wise.
Bring your mercies to my door,
And justice to my eyes.
Open the visions of my soul,
To the working of your hand.
Let it see your perfect will,
And only on you, stand.
Rejection once rained on you,
And still it does today.
Injustice tried to conquer too,
But redemption had its way.
You were despised and betrayed.
Great sorrow yet embraced.
And so much more,
You suffered for,
To bring us all your grace.
Iris Carignan 2015