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Nancy’s Story: Becoming a Help Meet

 

Help Meet“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.

The Light Still Shines!

I gently pushed open the hospital door, knowing that things were not going well. I carefully entered, as quietly as I could. All was dark and still, except for the small glimmer of light that filtered through the space where the bathroom door was slightly ajar.  I could see her there, just sitting in solitude, reading her Bible.  I thought to myself, “What is the deal? Why is she sitting alone reading her Bible at a time like this?  I just don’t get it!” But that was the pattern of her life. How many times as a child had I found her alone in her room reading that Bible!

I turned my attention toward the hospital bed where the frail fourteen-year-old lay.  He should be out running and playing or riding bikes or fishing like other young boys, but here he lay, resting quietly at the moment.  His mom had closed the blinds, turned out the lights, and retreated to the only place of solitude that she could find, where she could both read and keep an attentive ear to her precious son. During his waking hours, he was in extreme pain and discomfort so, as he slept, she lovingly kept any and all from unintentionally disturbing him.  She had faithfully cared for him through the years, and now, she would continue to love, nurture, wait, pray, and trust as the long and hard battle against leukemia would come to an end.

We buried my little brother a few days later.  That little guy had literally been my heart – and my closest side-kick. Many special memories would always remain.  But when I think back on those days from over thirty years ago, that vivid memory of my mother reading her Bible, enclosed in the walls of that tiny hospital bathroom, will be forever etched in my mind.

Years passed, and through the course of time, I, too became a Christian. And, yes, I, too, began to read my Bible.  But I was plagued with doubts and questions. Was the Bible indeed true? Could it all be believed?  Why was it so hard for me just to, by faith, accept it all as true?

Then, one day my answer came. I was doing a study on what the Bible actually declares about itself, and I made the most amazing discovery.  I found that the most unbelievable accounts in the Bible, those that are so often mocked and scoffed at, and those which are so often debated, were used by Jesus in His teachings.  I was intrigued! I followed them through one by one. I studied and pondered how He made references to the Biblical truths of old and used them to explain and expound many of His teachings!

Many do not believe in the Biblical account of Creation. but Jesus did! (Matthew 19, Mark 10)

Many do not believe in a literal flood, but Jesus did! (Matthew 24:37-39)

Many do not believe in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Jesus did! (Luke 17:28-30)

Many do not believe that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, but Jesus did! (Luke 17:32)

And many do not believe that Jonah really remained alive in the belly of the big fish for three days and three nights, but Jesus did! (Matthew 12:40)

These were the passages that made such an impact on me, but there were more. I also saw how he used these Old Testament truths to teach critical doctrines of the faith.  He used the story of Jonah to exemplify His resurrection. He used the days of Noah and Lot to explain what the world would be like at His second coming. He took some of the most controversial of Scriptures to explain truth.  Truly, He believed the Scriptures, and He believed all of it!  There is no way to explain what happened in the depths of my heart!  It was settled!  If it was good enough for my Lord, it was good enough for me! It was true! It was ALL true!  Within my heart, I KNEW it was true!

Rested, grounded, settled, I continued my studies.  I found the same was true of the apostles.  Peter, James, Jude, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, and the writer to the Hebrews would go back and reference the Old Testament scriptures. Indeed, they too, believed!  I knew of a certainty that the Bible was true!  I knew that there I could find truth!  I now knew that in His Word, I could hear Him! And my life would be forever changed!

I would go to His Word to find answers to my questions! I would go there for comfort! I would go there for encouragement! Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, in the good times and, most assuredly, in the bad, I could be found in some quiet place reading my Bible.

I think back thirty years ago. In my mind, I re-enter that hospital room. I see my mom in that little hospital bathroom reading her Bible!  She didn’t even know I was looking!  “Oh, mom!  I get it! I understand!”  All I can think is, “I love you, Mom!  Thank you for showing me the way!” – when you didn’t even know I was looking!

And for those of you who may still be waiting on your own children – Don’t give up!  Let your light continue to shine!  Even when you are not aware, your children ARE watching!  You never know what God may do when you do not even know that they are looking!

Susan’s Story: A Crumbling Marriage

Sharing Your Story, one of the components of Wisdom and Kindness, provides a place for women to anonymously share their stories.  This category was developed with the ultimate intent of emphasizing God’s faithfulness, even in the difficulties and struggles of life. Each story is true. Each story is anonymously written.  Each story is written to proclaim the hope that is found in The Lord! May The Lord bless!

Susan’s Story – A Crumbling Marriage

My story is neither flashy, nor extravagant.  It is a simple story of how the Lord has worked in my life.  Though there are many things that I could share, I would like for you to enter my life on the day that I got married. I married the man that I loved, though I would later learn that I knew very little about what God’s love in marriage is all about.  My husband and I had what one might call “a friendship marriage.”  I say this because we had been friends for many years before we entered the romantic stage of our relationship.  We enjoyed each other’s company, spent many hours together, and looked forward to being together.  Seeing him drive up in the driveway was the highlight of my day.  Most of our friends thought that we had the perfect marriage.  It wasn’t long, however, before a subtle, but serious, problem began to crumble away at our marriage .  The crumbling was so slight and so minute that, at first, it was totally undetectable.  However, as time passed, the crumbling continued.  Although there was very little arguing and were very few disagreements, the serious, but subtle crumbling continued through the years until our very marriage was about to fall apart.

What I came to learn and understand was that our marriage crumbled away ever so slightly because I did not know the purpose for which God had created me.  I didn’t understand that God had created me to be one flesh with my husband.  Neither did I know that I was to be a help to him.  You see, I lived my own life.  I had my own job, my own responsibilities , and essentially, my own life apart from him.  The more that I headed in my own direction, the farther my life took me from my husband.  At the same time, my husband, who had his own job, his own responsibilities, and his own life, headed in his own direction.  We moved farther and farther apart until the day that my husband no longer desired to be married.  I had not even seen the problem coming.  It so happened that my husband decided to stay with me “for the children’s sake.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story was that I had become a Christian about two years earlier. The Lord had been working in my life, but I was still plagued with fears.  By God’s hand, I began to study my Bible.  And then, I began to study what the Bible says about marriage.  My eyes began to be opened.  I began to see what God intended for me as a wife. I also saw how far short I fell.  Studying passage by passage, God began to change me and my understanding of my purpose as a wife.  Little by little, a new marriage began to emerge in place of that old crumbled marriage.  Several months into this “new” marriage, my husband decided to be honest with me about where his feelings – and life – had been and why he stayed in the marriage.  He asked for forgiveness.  The Lord was very clear, “Just as The Lord forgave you, so also should you do” (Col. 3:13, Eph. 4:32).

That is when the real test came in.  Knowing all that I now knew, could I walk in the truths that the Lord had taught me concerning marriage?  Day by day, an amazing thing happened.  The Lord, through His grace, and by the Word of God, began to fully rebuild my marriage.  Change is not instantaneous, but just as my marriage had slowly crumbled away, brick by brick, piece by piece, my marriage was restored.  I would never make this sound like an easy thing, but this I know: when you humble your heart and say that you will obey The Lord, no matter what, He truly blesses that humility and obedience.  As I sought, through obedience, to become the wife that the  Lord had designed and intended, He built my marriage into more than I ever dreamed that a marriage could be.

It has been many years since those difficult days.  My marriage has continued to mature and grow, as The Lord continues to remind me that I was created to be a help and also a companion to my husband, one flesh with him.  The Lord still applies those truths to my life in a multitude of ways, and I am repeatedly blessed in this precious calling as a wife.  The greatest fulfillment that I have ever known is being a wife to my husband.  My prayer for you is that if God so calls you to this calling that you will lay down your own life and pick up the life that God has ordained for you.

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.