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Rachel’s Story: A Difficult Husband

How in the world can I live with this man?  He is so overbearing, so contrary, and downright impossible.  Those were the thoughts that continually ran through my mind.  My husband was never physically abusive, but he was so sarcastic, so  negative, and so critical that I was emotionally spent.  I had arrived at the place where I was constantly stressed.  I cringed when I heard his car drive up in the driveway.  I did love him, but I certainly did not like him most of the time.  I settled into a place of knowing and expecting his disapproval of most things that I did or said.  In every situation that arose, it was “his way or no way.”  Although we had been married for several years, I was ready to give up and get out.  It was then that The Lord intervened.

The Lord began to show me that too often Christians expect things to be easy.  The Lord never says that life will be easy.  Many times, in fact, we are placed in difficult situations so that He can, not only grow us, but also shine through us, all for His glory.  Such was what I came to understand.

Through the years of our marriage, I had learned to lean on The Lord often.  I had learned to forgive often, yet I still struggled.  I would often cry out to The Lord to show me how to cope.

One thing that I had learned in my life was to turn to the Bible to find answers.  And that is exactly what I did.  I began to study marriage, as God addressed it in His Word.  Over and over, I kept coming to the same truth – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.  But over and over, I responded the same way – Lord, You just don’t know how difficult he is.  This is just not possible for me.

Time and again, I would read the same truth – Wives, be subject to your own husbands.  And time and again I would tell The Lord why this would not work for us.  I had convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule.  It just wouldn’t work in my marriage because no one knew how he was.

I am sure that I had read these scriptures before, but one day I came to 1 Peter 3 in a whole new way.  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.  I sat in absolute amazement!  The truth was the same, but for the first time, I saw us right in the middle of that verse – that if any obey not the word.  Right there! That described my husband perfectly.  I always battled back and forth in my mind as to whether my husband was an unsaved man or an unspiritual man, but either way he definitely did not obey the word.  That was us, a perfect description of us.

But the astounding truth was that the wife was commanded to submit just as any other wife.  The truth captivated me!  I went back to that verse day after day, and it seemed that little by little The Lord opened the scripture to me.  Just because I had a difficult husband gave me no excuse.  I heard over and over – Even if he is difficult, submit anyway!

Then, on one of my return trips to that verse the word likewise caught my attention.  Likewise, I thought: Like what?  Like the scriptures that preceded this one.  So I backed up to the previous verses.  Here is what I found:

We are commanded to submit to governmental authorities – even if they are difficult ones.  (1 Peter 2:13-17)

We are commanded to submit to our masters (bosses) – even if they are difficult. (1 Peter 2:18-20)

Then, we are given the ultimate example – Jesus Himself, when He was mistreated.  And what a perfect and precious example (1 Peter 2:21-23).

He did not sin in return when He was sinned against.

No evil was found in His words.

When He was spoken to in a harsh way, He did not speak harshly in return.

When He suffered, He did not threaten in return.

But this is the thing that He did do: He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.

Words cannot describe what that word LIKEWISE came to mean to me!  I was supposed to respond just as my Lord had responded.

Humbled, I fell to my knees crying out for The Lord to help me be submissive to my difficult husband.

But The Lord wasn’t finished teaching me yet.  Without a word …. Without a word … Without a word!  I was to submit to him.  No arguing. No complaining.  No whining.  Even when, and especially when, he was difficult, I was to submit, with a good attitude, but without a word!  It was to be my behavior, just as it was Jesus’ behavior that spoke!  How much I had to learn.  The Lord wanted to use me as an example to my husband, right in the midst of the difficulty.  Oh, how I would need the grace of God to walk here.

But this is exactly where I did walk, by God’s amazing grace.  I did not walk here perfectly, but it did become the pattern of my life.  Attempting, from the heart, to walk in obedience, with a meek and quiet spirit, I was enabled to arrange my life under my husband, even in the difficult times.  I walked right here for many years! And years later, an incredible thing happened.  God saved my husband!  I praise God for His intervention into our marriage.

There is one further thing that I would like to share.  Some while later my husband was asked to give a devotion to some young men.  He prepared his devotion privately, and I never knew what he said.  But one day, years later as I was cleaning and sorting some files, there I found a notepad with his notes from that devotion.  And there it was!  I had never shared 1 Peter 3 with him, but there it was!  He had begun his devotion with 1 Peter 3, and gave his testimony of how The Lord had worked through my behavior.

I held that notepad tightly to my chest, and cried and cried and cried!  In a mighty way, I had learned that God is so real, and He is faithful to His Word!

May I encourage you … No matter how difficult the situation, don’t leave God out of the picture.  Don’t refuse or argue with the only thing that can help you.  Don’t rationalize truth away.  I had made every one of those mistakes!

Go to His Word.  Hear Him! Cling tightly to what He says, especially in the difficulties! And trust Him with the results!  He is faithful!

I had wondered how in the world I could live with this man.  Now, I knew how!  It had taken me years to learn, but now I knew!  Even today, all I can say is: Thank You, Lord!

Vanessa’s Story: God’s Faithfulness to the Single Woman

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!

Vanessa’s Story – God’s Faithfulness to the Single Woman

Being single in a world where couples are “the norm” is not very easy and can present challenges in life.  It seems that everywhere you look there are couples or pairs in some form or fashion.  There are couples sitting together in restaurants, church services, ballgames, or other events.  Then there are the challenges that continually remind you that you are doing something by yourself.  For example, there is the waitress who asks:  Table for just one?  There are hotel rate packages based on double-occupancy.  And there are actually increased rates or up-charges for a single person going on a cruise alone!  Add this to the well-meaning people who are not satisfied that you have not married yet.  It takes a cultivated strength to keep a smile on your face when you are asked many times over:  So when are you going to get married? Are you seeing anyone?  It is easy to feel left out, like the “odd-ball” or that you are swimming upstream.

But, there is the upside!  I love the freedom I have to be impulsive and make plans at the spur of a moment.  My time is my own.  There is no coordination of schedules before accepting invitations to attend various events.  There is no one with whom to compromise on what I should cook for dinner or what color the house should be painted.  There is no one to get aggravated at me if I choose not to clean the house but rather spend the day visiting friends or family.  Yes, there are definite advantages that I certainly enjoy being single.

I love good food, trying new restaurants, and traveling.  Many people would never eat at a restaurant, tour a museum, or take a vacation alone.  They would choose to stay home.  But I had determined a long time ago that I would never let my single state prevent me from doing something that I really wanted to do.  I want to live life and not miss great opportunities because I feel funny doing things by myself or because I can’t find someone to go with me.  So, with a good book in hand, I’ll eat at a restaurant and enjoy a great meal.  With a prayer for protection, I’ll visit sites, museums and open air memorials in places like Washington DC, Paris, Monterey and others!  Over time, a certain independence, strength, and confidence is built within. Not an independence from God, but a healthy independence and confidence that was given by God.

So, have I ever felt lonely, or like an “odd-ball”, or confused and pained about being single?  My answer is ABSOLUTELY.  Singleness is not something I expected or desired.  There are not many days that my single state does not come to mind.  Sometimes it is as a fleeting thought, but other times it is more than that.  Often I review my life to figure out where I went wrong.  Was it always intended for me to be single? Did the wrong decisions I made earlier in life lead me to this place?  Or does God have someone in mind for me?  Occasionally it has been a weight sitting on my chest making me feel that I am being smothered.

And then there is Satan.  My enemy has used this vulnerability to drag me into a pit of depression that I’ve stayed in for weeks at a time.  These are dark days of deep pain.  The thoughts he has spoken to my mind have been vicious, demeaning, and have ultimately caused me to question the goodness of my God.  It has brought me to the edge of resentfulness and bitterness.  It has caused me to consider quitting the Christian journey of walking in obedience to Christ.  But deep down, I have a reverential fear of taking my life into my own hands and choosing my own way.  Proverbs 14:12 says: There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  I do not want to put myself outside the umbrella of God’s favor, blessing, and protection.  With that in mind, I reach deep and by faith alone start climbing out of the pit.  That is where God’s Word comes in.  What a precious Book!  Never has the Word of God been so real to me than when I am hurting and searching for relief.  God has been so faithful to me through His Word by healing me, nourishing me, and defending me against this enemy.  It has been my salvation and stronghold in times of discouragement, confusion, and pain.  Once I recognized the attacks of Satan in my life, I began using the weapon of the Word against Him.  James 4:7 says for us to …resist the devil and he will flee from you. Second Corinthians10:4 says: casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.  First Peter 5:9 says: whom resist steadfast in the faith.   I used these scriptures to resist the attacks that would come upon my mind and emotions.  It worked.  The Word of God works.

So, how has God been faithful to me in practical, everyday matters?  Well, He has blessed me with a great job with which I am able to support myself very well.  Finances can be a challenge for a single woman.  From the earliest days of my career, God has opened doors of opportunity, promoted me, given me favor with my superiors, and granted me the knowledge and understanding to do a job well.   Any time I start to get bored, a new project would be assigned to me.  I have also been able to travel, meet people, and make friends in new locations.  He alone has done this – not me.  I truly marvel at His blessing to me in this area.  I tell people that God handed me this job on a silver platter.  Many women have a husband with a good job.  But in my case, God has provided me with a good job.

Many may think that you have to live a sub-standard life as a single woman, but that is not so.  God has always given me “the best”, it seems, in many facets of my life.  I love Psalm 32:19 which says: O how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.  One of the words for “goodness” in the Hebrew language is “the best”.  The word “laid up” in this verse means “to hide, hoard, or reserve.”  What a great picture!  I can just see God reserving all of these wonderful blessings specifically for me.  An example of this is the opportunity to build a house.  Several options were considered, such as renting an apartment or buying an existing home, but things never seemed to work out.  God put it in my heart to buy land and build a house and that is what I did.  This was “the best” that God was giving me.  Although I was very intimidated taking on such a major investment on my own, I foraged ahead asking for God’s continued help and guidance throughout the whole process.  I was able to select flooring, countertops, and paint color without considering anyone else’s opinion!

I have a great family that loves me and accepts me as single.  I have wonderful friends, both single and married, with whom I can fellowship.  These friends are ones who make me feel valued for who I am at this point in time, not ones that try to “fix me” because something is “wrong” with me.  These people are a great blessing and I thank God for each one.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the opportunity to serve the true and living God.  Being single does provide the advantage of being able to spend time in the Word of God and in prayer to receive instruction, guidance, and knowledge.  He has put a hunger in me to learn more about Him.  God has been faithful to use me in His Kingdom’s work by providing me the opportunity to study and teach others.  I’ve been able to encourage others on an individual basis, counsel them, and point them to the Word of God.  I’ve been able to sow seeds in the lives of unbelievers.  To Him alone be the glory.

I realize there are many views about being single.  Some believe it is a dreaded curse and fear it.  Others wished they were single again.  Although I do not understand the why’s and wherefore’s of remaining single, my desire is to make the most of it and please Him.  Psalm 37:4 says: Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  The word “delight” actually means to be “soft” or “pliable.”  My encouragement for single women is to be soft and pliable under the hand of God.  Surrender yourself to God and ask Him to put HIS desires in your heart.  He will fulfill the desires He puts there when we surrender to Him.

Julianna’s Story: From Resentment to Respect

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!

Julianna’s Story – From Resentment to Respect

How gracious our Lord is!  How wonderfully forgiving He is!  And how marvelously He grows us as He changes us into His image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).  How many of our ways are so far from His ways!  How many of our thoughts are earthly, fleshly, and worldly!  Yet, in His grace and mercy He conforms us to the image of His Son!  How does one explain this process?  There are not adequate words to describe what the Lord can do in the heart of His children through the truth of His Word.  However, I would like to make a feeble attempt to share a marvelous work that the Lord has done in my heart through the years.  May the Lord use these words to His glory.

Where does this story begin?  … And the wife see that she reverence her husband  (Ephesians 5:33).  A foundational truth for a marriage, as God intends, is found in this one phrase of Scripture – and the wife see that she reverence her husband.  One of a wife’s primary goals is to see that she respects her husband.  This truth I now know somewhat after many years of marriage, but as I look back through my life I see how amazingly the Lord Himself has brought me to this place.  I also sincerely regret how far short I fell from marriage as God intended and how many years that it seemed that I wasted in resentment toward my husband.

As the Lord began to do this work in my heart, He first brought me face to face with this truth:  God calls a woman to respect her husband.  I do not know why this surprises us so much.  God calls children to honor their parents and calls all Christians to respect governmental authorities that are over them.  Why does it seem like such a different command for the wife to respect her husband?  And if God indeed created the woman to be a help and companion for the husband, how necessary respect would be for her to walk in that calling.  In my life, the problem came because I resented so many things that my husband did, and I resented so many of his ways.  In all honesty, from the heart, I guess that I did not think that he was worthy of respect. However, as the Lord brought me to the truth of His Word, I found that we are to respect each and every individual because they are created in the image of God.  Why did God forbid taking another’s life and require the punishment of those who did so?  It was because they were made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6).  Why are we not to speak evil of others and curse men?  It is because they are made in the similitude of God (James 3:9).  So for me, the beginning place of this walk with the Lord was that I must respect my husband as much as I would respect any human being – simply because he was made by God and in the image of God.  In the depth of that truth, as God worked it into my heart, I began to treat my husband differently – much more kindly – as I would treat any other.

The second great step that God enabled me to take came as He began to reveal the importance of understanding headship.  It was God who had created the husband to be the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23).  The man had not elevated himself to this position.  God Himself had ordained the husband as the head as He created the man (1 Timothy 2:12-13).  Understanding this truth humbled my heart to areas of resistance that had been built up.  I could respect my husband for the position that God had given him, in spite of the fact that he did not do things as I thought they should be done.  Much as a child is required to honor a parent because God has so commanded – not because they are perfect parents – but because it is right, I was to respect my husband.  And much as we are required to honor and pray for those in authority over us – not because they are perfect leaders – but because it is right to honor their position, I was to honor and respect my husband for his God-­given position as my husband!  And an amazing thing happened as I began to walk in respect.  Much contention was removed from our home, and my husband began to relate differently to me! The change was not an overnight change, but in time, God did wonderful things in our marriage! How God blesses His truth!

As God continued to work in my heart through the years, another astounding thing happened.  God did remove some sinful ways from my husband’s life, but the more amazing thing that happened was that God totally changed my view of my husband.  Some of the day-to-day things that I resented the most, I actually began to admire.  Why was this so?  It happened as the Lord changed my heart, and I began to view my husband in a completely different way.  Things that I had always seen as negative things now became positive things in our relationship.  Qualities that I had always regarded as weaknesses, I now saw as strengths.  As unbelievable as this may sound, that is exactly what happened.

If I would have described my husband in the early years of our marriage, I would have described him as an unemotional and unsentimental, domineering workaholic.  The implications of all of those qualities are endless.  But now, after so many years of marriage and years of growing in the grace of the Lord, my description of my husband would be dramatically different.  The unemotional, unsentimental husband that I had has become my greatest stability, next to the Lord.  He is not swayed, tossed, and turned by emotion.  He does not respond emotionally to situations as I may be prone.  He is steadfast and strong, and I have come to rely upon him through many difficulties that have come our way.  Because emotion and sentiment do not rule his life, he has been the perfect husband for me time and time again.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

As for the domineering side of him, how I resisted him!  How often I thought:  Do you always have to be so bossy?  But again, after all of these years, how differently I view him.  How many women complain because their husbands will not lead!  I need never worry because my husband always steps easily into leadership.  The problem is never with his leading.  The problem is always with my following.  What I resisted and resented I now value.  It is easy to come to him with questions about decisions that I must make.  I trust his leadership – into which God has grown him.  Again, I must say that he has been the perfect husband for me.  What I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness in him is most assuredly a strength!

And finally, as for the workaholic to which I felt that I was married, what an entirely different perspective I have been given.  As we age together, I still see his drive toward work-related matters.  This tendency, however, does not stop his job.  He cares for duties around our home very effectively and efficiently.  Once again, I see that I never have to concern myself with repairs and upkeep responsibilities of our home, automobiles, etc.  The work ethic that he possesses is truly a blessing.  He consistently works to provide for our family, and consistently cares for the things with which God has blessed us.  This same work ethic blesses others whose paths we cross.  How many times I have seen him be a blessing to widows, children, the church, and more!  Again, what I had always wanted to change, I now rely upon, trust in, and am thankful for.  What I had always seen as a weakness is most assuredly a strength!

Yes, God did soften those qualities in my husband to make them strengths, but much more dramatically, He softened my heart as He gave me a new view of my husband.  I suppose that the most humbling thing that occurred was when I realized that the qualities that I had resisted and resented the most were the qualities that were contrary to my flesh!  Why did I resent his unemotional and unsentimental nature?  Because I was emotional and sentimental!  Why did I resent and resist his domineering way?  Because I wanted to remain independently selfish!  Why did I resent and resist his work ethic?  Because, by nature, I was plagued with procrastination and laziness!  Can you see how what I viewed as weaknesses in him actually conflicted with my own weaknesses?  Once again, I saw much more completely – the problem always arises in our own human heart!  And it was that heart that the Lord had to change!  And marvelously change it, He did!

I would like to say in closing that your husband will probably not match the description of mine.  God creates each individual uniquely.  However, your husband will possess qualities that you, in your flesh, will disrespect.  Ask the Lord to show you how He intends for that very weakness to be a strength.  Ask the Lord to reveal how your own weaknesses conflict with what you deem as weaknesses in your husband.  Ask the Lord to give you a heart to be obedient to His Word, no matter the circumstances of your life.  And ask the Lord to change your heart from a heart of resentment to a heart of respect.  You will forever be glad that you did!

The above anonymous testimony was first printed in Dawning Light © 2004.  I, again, extend my thanks to ladies willing to share their story to the glory of God.

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.