Monday, February 6, 2012

what I'm reading: being a "helper" from Challies

Today I'm posting a quote from Challies about what it means to be a "helper" in marriage. It's a really helpful reminder to me of what it means to be a "helper" to Steve. I hope it helps you too. (There are a lot of "helps" in that paragraph!)

You are his helper, which means your life is wrapped up in his. Whatever he longs to be, however he intends to use his gifts and passions and calling, you are to join him in that. His mission is your mission, his calling is your calling, his passion is your passion. So join him, serve him, love him, respect him and you will be your part in this portrait, this image of the real marriage.
See Genesis 2:15-25; Ephesians 5:22-33.

From A picture perfect marriage II


simone r said...

Hi Jean.

Nice picture. But do you think he means that we need to share all our husband's hobbies and interests? Or his secular work? I can see this for ministry stuff but not so much for other things. How would this look for someone who's husband worked as a bank manager and was into v8 cars?


Jean said...

Hi Simone,

Yeah, that's a good question. No, I don't think it means we need to share every hobby (although I did learn to enjoy Aussie Rules footy for the sake of my husband and our marriage! I guess I could manage V8 cars - not that couples need to share every hobby. But my husband also discovered he liked Jane Austen through me).

I think it's more a "mission" thing (not that you're asking about that). In our case, we go to a church that is tied up in my husband's university ministry, because that's where he needs to be for the sake of the kingdom. And it's not just a matter of being there every week (and possibly complaining about it afterwards because there aren't many other families there!) it's about making it my mission too, loving and caring for the people there, encouraging and teaching the younger women, etc.

Okay, now for the harder question...I think whatever my husband's work is, I support him in that. If he's a bank manager, I support him in that, whatever that looks like. Not to say I might not have different work or interests. But I wouldn't want them to undermine my ability to support him in his work. Exactly what it looks likes would depend on circumstances: it might just look like keeping things running on the home front, perhaps offering hospitality to colleagues, and supporting him if he needed to go away on a business trip. It might mean choosing not to work if he was in a busy job that demanded I be more available at home. I'm brainstorming here. I'm sure it will look different from couple to couple.

Love Jean.

Tamie said...

Jean, can I ask you a personal question about how this has worked out in your own life?

When did you do your PhD - before or after you got married? How did pursuing that cohere with your life and passions being wrapped up in your husband's?

Jean said...

Good question, Tamie! That it's personal is no problem - be as personal as you like.

My husband was studying theology while I was doing my PhD, to prepare for work in ministry. I wanted to study theology too, but we couldn't afford that: I needed to work, and his studies came first, as he would be the one in full-time ministry later on. We couldn't really afford to start a family yet either (which perhaps would have been the ideal, and perhaps, looking back, we might have managed it, but there you go!). So I did a PhD in history (but really in theology) which I got a decent 3 year scholarship for. This meant I could defacto study theology, and support us financially at the same time. Our main goal was that Steve study theology and be prepared for ministry: the rest was a subsidary of that.

Steve was also working part-time during that time as a children's and youth worker in a church. We lived on the grounds of the church, and I helped him run the kid's club once a week - hardly my first choice of ministry, but I enjoyed it all the same! He also did some unpaid, related ministry at the university campus nearby. We did this together as much as possible: I went to socials and perhaps (I can't quite remember now) I may have mentored some of the girls.

So you see I did a lot of "following" and "supporting" and "helping" as he prepared for his (our) life's "mission", if you want to put it that way!

During the last 2 years of my PhD (which, perhaps predictably, took 2 more years than expected and the scholarship ran out) I did, and then we shared, a staff working job at another university. I handed in my PhD, got pregnant, and continued to minister alongside him on campus while I could, until greater numbers of children made that impossible and my role became more of a hospitality and encouragment role. He kept working at that university full-time, is still there, and I'm still raising our family and supporting his work. We go to a church connected with the university ministry, and I encourage the young women there. I write (my own hobby/ministry!) and do a little paid editing work as needed by our family.

And the rest, as they say, is history! Not a perfect model, but that's how it's worked out for us. I hope my long-winded story helped!

Love Jean.

Jean said...

ps tell me if I've failed to answer your question - it's quite possible! :D

Tamie said...

Thanks Jean, that's helpful. I guess I was asking the other side of the coin to Simone's question about sharing all hobbies - I was wondering about the room for a wife to explore her own (good, godly) interests that she's gifted for. I don't see that in competition with being a helper (and your story so helpfully illustrates) but just trying to work out how this looks in practice. :)