“It’s hard to find good help!” Why did my husband continually make that sarcastic statement? And even more pressing, why did it irritate me so? I helped him all the time. I at least tried, and I certainly helped him more than he ever helped me. Yet the comment would still come, and the irritation persisted. Finally, at the point of total frustration, I took the comment before the Lord in prayer. Lord, why does he consistently say that it is hard to find good help? What is it that I need to know? Those questions were the beginning of a journey with the Lord that has taken me to difficult and yet wonderful places – a journey that I have struggled through, yet a journey that I cherish deeply.
As I took my frustrations and struggling questions before the Lord, He gently began to open some truths to me that have changed my life forever. First of all, the Lord showed me that I truly was not a very good help to my husband. In his own way, my husband was asking for me to be a better help, but because of the tone in which he made his comments, I continually ignored and resisted his statement. Within my mind, I actually argued against his persistent comment.
But in His gracious way, the Lord was beginning to teach me how to be a help to my husband. How was I going to learn to be a good help? Quite honestly, did I even want to? The Lord probed very deeply within my heart, until I saw my selfishness and my self-determined way. I knew the verse: It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. I knew that was the Lord’s purpose in creating a woman, and I thought that I wanted to be that kind of wife. However, when it came to the place of living it out, I quietly resisted those truths. Even though I said that I wanted God’s ways, in my heart I found that I really wanted my own way. Sometimes I went through the outward motions of trying to help my husband, but in my heart I wanted to be doing something else. There certainly was no enjoyment found in setting aside the things that I wanted, or thought I needed to be doing. Being a help to him so often seemed like drudgery. But my eyes were being opened. I began to see that my husband was right. I was not a good help to him. I also began to see that it would take the Lord to give me a true desire, and it would take Him to teach me how to be a good help. I had never heard anyone address the “hows” of being a help meet for your husband. They always seemed to just say that you should be one. I certainly had not had a college course entitled “Help Meet 101.” No, it was going to take the Lord to teach me what He wanted me to be.
One by one, little by little, here a little, there a little, the Lord put some very practical truths into my life. The first thing that He taught me was to listen to the things that my husband was saying. He began to show me that if I would set aside “how” my husband spoke to me, and just listen to “what” he said, I would learn exactly how to be a help to this man. Because I would always get caught in the emotion of “how” he spoke to me, my mind never really heard “what” he was saying. And sure enough, as I learned to set aside the sarcasm, belittling tones, even anger, at times, I could hear – really hear – what my husband wanted (and needed). Sometimes I could just ignore the tones; sometimes I would have to forgive them before I could proceed to listen to the words alone. I could then take “what” he had said, and the Lord would bring to my mind some very specific ways that I could change my ways or better help him. Walking in this, time and time again, I became, by the Lord’s grace, a much better help to my husband. And the joy came, not so much from my husband, but in knowing that this was pleasing to my Lord.
The second major truth that the Lord opened my eyes to see was that I was to be this help to my own husband. That was why I must hear him. Being the wife of this man – and this man alone – would look quite different than being the wife of a different man. My focus was always to be on what this man needed in a helpmate. My eyes were opened very clearly to this truth in the area of cooking. My husband worked hard each day, ate a sandwich at lunch, and expected a rather large, hot meal for supper. I had a friend whose husband ate business lunches every day, and never wanted a big meal for supper. Though I quietly wished that my husband, too, would want a small, simple meal, I came to see how important it was to cook for my husband if I was to be a true help to my own husband. Now, in order to actually follow through in this truth, it meant that several changes would have to take place in my schedule and my life. But over time, I was privileged to see the delight in my husband knowing that a special meal was prepared for him each evening. The truth of being a help to my own husband played itself out in many ways. There was not a certain formula that I could follow to be a help for this man. I would have to listen to the things that he was saying, take them to the Lord in prayer, walk in those things that the Lord showed me, and over time, watch the confidence that was being built in my husband in the help that I was becoming. Pure delight would be on his face if there was something that he had just mentioned in conversation that we needed to do in the future, and I took care of it. What a help I became!
As I was learning to really listen to the things that my husband was saying, I was also learning to watch him. If I would step back and watch what he was doing for just a few moments, I could always see ways that I could step up alongside of him and assist him. Perhaps I could bring him something or hold something for him. It was, however, important that I didn’t try to take over. I would just quietly help. Interestingly, by watching him, I learned to anticipate what he would need next. We also came to really enjoy one another’s company as we worked on his little projects together. Perhaps one of the most important things that I learned about helping him with his projects was to set aside the things that I had wanted to do. I wouldn’t even let my mind think on those things while I was helping him. Always, if I allowed my mind to think on “my” things, I would be distracted and impatient and could not restfully enjoy helping him. I began to learn how to clear my schedule, take care of the necessary things ahead of time, and set the other things aside so that I could help him without distraction. Can you believe my surprise and delight when, one day, he declared that he would rather me help him than anyone else, even other men! What a long way we had come from that sarcastic statement of “It’s hard to find good help.”
I continued to grow. I was still learning to listen. I was still learning to watch. Now I began to learn to anticipate what he would need. Many times I would already know the things that he would need or desire. It made being a help so much easier. I could anticipate many things before he even spoke them. Of course, there were the daily things. I knew the clothes that he would need for work, the kind of lunch he liked packed, the type of supper he would desire. But there were also the companionship things that I could anticipate – what he might like to do to relax, how I could encourage or support him, how I could enrich our times alone together. What was slowly happening was that I was ordering my life around his, and the results were amazing.
Another lesson that I learned – the hard way – was that if I truly wanted to be a help to my husband, that had to be the priority of my life. What things that he asked me to do, I learned to do first. Many times I would have my list of things to do, and I may not get to those things that he had asked me to do. I was, then, found either scampering around to get them done or making excuses as to why they were not done. The Lord had been repeatedly reminding my heart to do those things first, but I didn’t see how it would do any harm when I did them, as long as they were done. One day the Lord cemented the truth deep within my heart. My husband had an important meeting and had asked me to do the simple task of making copies for his meeting. The library was only a block away, so the task was quite an easy one. The Lord prompted me many times to go make the copies. I kept putting it off. A serious rain storm set in, and I waited until later in the day. When all of that was past, I hurried to the library to make the copies. I would still have plenty of time. When I got to the library, the copy machine was broken. Quickly, I regrouped. I would go to the post office to make the copies. When I got there, I found that copy machine also broken. In disbelief, I hurried to a copy place, made the copies, and returned home. To my dismay, my husband had come home a little early, went to the meeting without his copies, and was very unhappy with me. I was so confused. I had every intention of doing those things that my husband had asked me to do. It was just all of the circumstances that had hindered me from completing the task. When I took all of those situations and circumstances back before the Lord, I heard that still small voice say, “If you had done it first, there would have been no problem.” Though I still need reminding, I learned that day to make helping my husband be the priority of each day.
Still another lesson that I was to learn was to be available to him at all times. Availability was the key that opened yet another door. I began to understand that I must not be so busy with my responsibilities that I would be unavailable when he needed me. Maybe he would come through the house to ask me to give him a hand, or perhaps he would call from work with an errand he wanted me to do. Was I fully available to him? Often I found myself telling him why I couldn’t do what he needed. Rather than see these as conflicting things, I learned to trust the Lord with those circumstances of life. I would pray for Him to control those “interruptions,” but when they came, I would see them as from the Lord’s hand. It made it so much easier to give my husband the help for which he had asked.
In all of these things, I learned that there were two important factors involved in truly being a help to my husband. The first was that I must think according to truth. I must see my husband in the light of the Word of God. I must also see my place alongside of him in the light of the Word of God.
The second factor that made all the difference was how my heart had been prepared before the Lord. Had I taken time that morning to spend time with the Lord? Had I renewed my mind regarding what the Lord says to wives about their husbands? Was I prepared, in my heart, for another day of service to my Lord in the place where He had placed me? If so, I could proceed through the day in a way that honored the Lord. However, if I had failed to do those things, I began the day with my own thoughts, my own ways, and my own list of things to do for that day. Those days produced a totally different result.
There was one final thing that proved to be a great blessing to me. If I would stop from the busyness of life for ten or fifteen minutes before my husband came home, to once again renew my mind, I would be refreshed and eager to see him, looking for ways that I could serve him – ways that I might encourage him – ways that he might be refreshed – ways that I could help him. But, once again, if I failed to do that, many times he would seem like a bother as he interrupted the many things that I felt I had to do.
“It’s hard to find good help!” Occasionally I will still hear those words come from my husband’s lips. But the interesting thing is that they are never directed at me. They may be spoken about someone working on his job, someone in a department store, or someone in the auto parts store, but never are they spoken about me. More often than not, I hear, “Thanks for helping me. I appreciate your help.” Imagine how my heart smiles!
It has been a long journey, and I continue to learn things from day to day. I still learn to listen – I still learn to watch – I still learn to anticipate – I still learn to keep my own husband as the priority – I still learn to be available to him – I still learn to renew my mind and to prepare my heart daily. As the Apostle Paul so aptly stated: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12). God created me to be a help meet for my husband. I pray that I may truly live the life for which He created me.
The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Woman – Precious in the Sight of God © 2002. I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.