Saturday, April 7, 2018

Redefining the Janette...ikz of the Proverbs 31 Woman (feat. "31 to be Exact")

As a poet, I study a lot of contemporary writers, and as a Christian poet, I'm particularly interested in writers who use the poetic medium to glorify God and speak specifically to the issues that Christians face. One of my favorite poetic voices is Janette Watson, professionally known as MissTerious Janette...ikz (pronounced "genetics"). I look up to Janette not only as a poet, but as a person. I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2015 at the Poets In Autumn tour, and although we only spoke briefly, I'm inspired by her willingness to live out loud.

MissTerious Janette...ikz / Instagram 

PIA Tour 2015

Everything about Janette...ikz makes a statement, from her huge afro (complimented by a lone dreadlock) to her unique style of writing...and singing, AND playing guitar. She's a jack--or, Jill--of all trades. All of her work is candid and raw, and she writes passionately about relationships--both romantic relationships and relationship with God.

Through poetry, Janette...ikz shared her decision to wait for God to send her a husband, and when He sent him, she wrote a follow-up piece...and recited it as her wedding vows (I have a lot to say about that, but I'll save it for another post because...😭). One of the things I love about Janette is the way she uses her poetic gifts to empower women. The poem I'll be highlighting today is one from 2012, entitled "31 To Be Exact," which reminds Christian women of their worth. I'd like to pull a few excerpts from the piece and really break down the meaning of it. Before I get into my analysis, check out the poem below:

"31 to be Exact" is a contemporary nod to Proverbs 31, the chapter in the Bible that outlines the standard for the Christian woman. Janette...ikz's poem begins:

…And God said it was not good for man to 
be alone,
So He created you,
But somewhere along the line,
Someone changed your perspective, shifted 
your view

Like Eve, you listened to the wrong voice 
and took a huge tasty bite of deception,
Now your stomach is upset 'cause your 
spirit won’t digest it.

No longer the woman that works in the confidence of ultimate artistic design.
Submit your name change: we’ll call you compromise…

Straight out of the gate, we already see that "31 to be Exact" is a heavy hitter. First and foremost, Janette...ikz makes sure to highlight that women are necessary to men. Alluding to Eve, she emphasizes that since the beginning of time, women have been deceived, but here, she refers to deception in terms of identity. The next few stanzas are deep:

This is what happens when your gospel is according to whoever is at the top of your playlist
And the media has become your Bible, Searching scripture of magazines to be told you are a dancing lead in Satan’s recital

But you are not her and she is not you,
'cause we are called to so much more than makeup, hair, clothes and shoes
and dropping it like it’s hot...even if we’re able to.
We are women of a different status, 31 to be exact.

In this day and age, we read magazines and tabloids more than we read our Bibles, always concerned with what's "hot." As Christians, we know that we are not of the world, but the pressure to fit in is still very real. If we don't look like "that" or listen to "that," we're not considered "cool." The woman who aspires to reach 31 status needs to understand that cool is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to live like Christ. The piece continues:

So we eat, we live, we breathe, we give, we 
even sweat love,
Always ready to hear from the women with 
silver hair.
Seeds have been sown,
and their wisdom saturates our soil,
clipping our dead ends for growth.

In order to achieve 31 status, we need to take the time to learn from our elders, the women who have "been there, done that." Their advice will help us grow to embody the Proverbs 31 woman.

The next few lines delve into who the Proverbs 31 woman is:

You’ll find us always promoting unity
Serving in our communities
Using our gifts and talents as an all-glory-to-God opportunity
Wake up in the morning with a grind
For the Most High on our mind
Constantly being refined
To be the exact of our Architect’s design

This is a 21st century adaption of the Biblical description of the Proverbs 31 woman, outlined in Proverbs 31:17-20, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" (NIV).

Proverbs 31:30 (NIV) tells us, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Janette...ikz admonishes us to recognize that:

Yes, we are beautiful
And barefoot in the kitchen of grace
Pregnant with purpose,
Baking to praise
Jesus is who we crave

Awaiting to come to full-term so we can deliver back what has been deposited...

Society (and even the church) feeds single women the idea that we need to be the perfect woman to attract a good (and Godly) man, but that's not where our focus should be. As Janette...ikz reminds us, "We have no hearts" (meaning that our hearts are not our own),"So here’s the answer before the question: / Any man who wants our heart will go to Christ knowing it’s in His possession..."

Yes, the Proverbs 31 woman was married, and yes, she provided for her family, but the reason her husband and children "arise and call her blessed" (31:28) is because she not only serves her family, but above all else, she serves the Lord. Women of 31 status are not concerned with the world's standards because we hold ourselves to the Proverbs 31 standard. We have a commitment to Christ first, and most importantly, our purpose is to serve Him wholeheartedly. Even before marriage, as Proverbs 31 women in the making, we are already worth more than rubies (31:10). We should start acting like it.

To learn more about Janette...ikz, follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @iamgenetics, or visit

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