Before I get too deep into this post, I have to admit that I was never one to believe you truly had to prepare for marriage before actually getting married. I wasn’t raised in the church so this term “help meet” is something I’ve learned as an adult. To be honest, the “preparation” to be married was more of a shacking concept, testing out the car before buying it and seeing if we could not fight so much for longer than a year. If so, then hey, you may be a good match.
For those that aren’t aware of the term “help meet”, it’s a biblical reference to the women’s purpose as a wife to her husband. She’s there to help meet his needs. It’s not a term of lesser than or demeaning. It’s more of a complimentary partner possessing characteristics that her husband does not have but together, she helps meet the kingdom purpose behind their holy matrimony. It can be a plethora of things that I won’t spell out now. However, if you haven’t read the book Preparing to be a Help Meet, I recommend jumping on that quickly if you’re a single female with the desire to be married but haven’t even thought about preparing in this current season. Let me be the 1st to tell you, YOU NEED TO PREPARE.
One of the scriptures that spoke to me within the last year about preparation for being married was in the book of Proverbs chapter 31, verse 11. In the New King James Version, it reads “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.” Listen to the Common English translation: “Her husband entrusts his heart to her, and with her he will have all he needs”. Wow. Her husband entrusts his heart to his wife and with her, he doesn’t need anything else. That’s powerful. So powerful that I began to ask myself how does someone trust someone that deeply? Does it begin in the friendship stage? Did he have to earn this trust from her once he fought tirelessly to break down her walls?
As I sat and comtemplated this one day, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that it starts right now – in my most single state, with no prospects in sight and no household responsibilities holding me back from doing whatever I want.
Most of us will take the time to build a friendship before jumping into marriage. That time of friendship and even possibly the time before that is the time to observe. Observe each other’s behaviors, characteristics and interests. If anything, I dare to say that this time is more critical than the actual friendship because it can define your intentions when you enter into that friendship. From my experience, it doesn’t take long to determine interest in someone. First, interest comes physically when you’re attracted to someone and then that’s usually enough to help us pursue knowing more of that person. If you’re around someone regularly, their actions speak loudly if you have the discernment to see what they’re saying. As females we have to be careful in this stage because we can have a guy open a door for us and by the time we walk through we’ve envisioned our wedding gown, honeymoon, how many kids we will have and what our grand babies’ names are. Let’s be real ladies. We’ve all done this at least once in our lives, right? Don’t get ahead of God.
Back to my enlightenment, if the time before friendship and time of friendship is a determinant of how the relationship will progress, if it progresses, then why wouldn’t I take on the qualities of my end goal (Proverbs 31:11) and cultivate qualities now that will help me attain that end result. I’ve heard it said many times recently that what we reap in our harvest, depends on what we’ve sown during planting season. That screams to me that I can’t wait until I’m married to become trustworthy. I can’t wait until I’m married to carry myself in such a way that people feel safe with me. I can’t wait until I’m married to learn how to help meet the needs of others. I need to do all of this now and quite frankly not only prepare but practice with my brothers and sisters in the church. We don’t practice on each other like doctors practice on lab rats and kill them. We practice by learning to heal our hurts now, unpacking some of the unnecessary baggage we carry and being unashamedly ourselves in our friendships, yet striving to be who God created us to be through mutual exhortation.
Thinking about it further, there were 3 areas I felt that the Holy Spirit was telling me to concentrate on in order to help me become the Proverbial 31 wife whose husband’s heart trusts in her:
1. Learn to help meet the needs of leaders at church and at work through submission.
That’s a loaded statement huh? Submission is generally a word in society with an extremely negative connotation and if you have known me for any length of time, you wouldn’t necessarily picture my face next to this word. However, it’s a common principle within the context of the Bible where we’re ALL asked to submit. Mostly, we’re reminded to submit to God and when we submit to God we know that He sees all things and knows all things. Therefore, nothing that happens to us in our lives catches Him by surprise. In fact, He promises to work all things together for our good. So if I help meet the needs of my church and job, I can have confidence and trust that things will work out just as they’re supposed to always. My submission to the process can make the experience better or worse for me. The church and the job will move forward with or without my willingness to come in alignment.
2. The world has enough haters, be an encourager – especially to our guy friends.
Simple enough no? Not for a recovering addict to the male bashing game. Having lived and traveled through several east coast U.S. cities growing up, there was no lack of females around me telling men about themselves, demanding they man up and belittling them. Granted some times, the games that were being played by the fellas set the fellas up for the neck whipping backlash from the females. However, it was so common and so regular to me that when I went on my 1st mission trip and I saw the guys that went with us were crying because their hearts were broken over human trafficking, I nearly passed out. I wanted to take pictures of their emotions as if I was at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that men have feelings too and often times they’re A LOT more sensitive then women. That trip was the beginning of a journey that I would take meeting guys completely different than what I had seen on TV or been around all my years prior. I saw their substance and their Kingdom potential if as a society we came alongside them in encouragement, whether it be a kind word or as a female not walking half naked in front of them to help their visual nature stay focused. I didn’t want to be the reason the guys I do life with struggled with anything. A man encouraged by his community can be ushered into and accomplish more of his Kingdom purpose than a man beat up daily, struggling to achieve worldly praise. I began to see encouragement as another way of helping the fellas around me versus a way of being manipulated as most feminists today would proclaim. When a man does something foul, call them out by reminding them what their true identity is in Christ and let God handle the rest. An unexpected reaction is always one that people ponder on long after the fact, whether they admit it to you or not. God does say His word never returns void. Maybe we’re on to something. If our nagging and cussing out, which is not God’s word, returns void maybe speaking truth will have a different affect.
When in doubt, think of the the old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” — there is truth in this.
3. Be intentional on how you engage the opposite sex.
This one is by far the 1st thing I think of when I read Proverbs 31:11. To me, in order for someone’s heart to be entrusted to you the way Proverbs 31’s husband does, I truly believe there is zero, zip, zilch confusion about where she stood with other persons of the opposite sex within their courtship. Now hear me out. Ladies, when we see guys with a female “fan base” surrounding them is that something that turns you on and makes you want to compete for his attention? Or is it more of an initial turn off – with or without knowing the full circumstances? I think that if most of us answer honestly, we’d truly question why this guy is always with females. Quite frankly, I think we’ve passed the stage of using the justification “I just get along better with the opposite sex.” OF COURSE YOU DO!!! We were created for that relationship. The 1st 2 beings that God created were a man and a woman whom He told to be fruitful and multiply. Hello?!! We need to put on our adult pants and realize that if we want a truly sound relationship, coming with your opposite sex entourage isn’t cute. Now this isn’t to say that you don’t hang out with a guy/girl that you are truly interested in. Sometimes it will work out and sometimes it won’t. However, your love interest, shouldn’t question who is who in your life so early on if you are consistently surrounded by the opposite sex. I’m a firm believer that individually, we have a lot more control over our perception and reputation than we care to admit or take responsibility for. At the end of the day, that’s all we as believers have – our reputation. I want my future husband to trust me as early on as possible because he doesn’t see me entertaining multiple guys. He’ll see that I have guy friends but that those boundaries are clearly drawn. He’ll know that his heart will be safe by the way I protect mine.
Having shared this verbally with some people, I understand how it can be interpreted as something very counter-cultural and even extreme. However, I truly do not feel it is. You don’t prepare to own a home by having reckless spending habits and having no money saved. You would’ve done your homework to know that your mortgage lender will ask for a history of your bank account records and tax filings to see how responsible you are to hold the title of homeowner. Beyond obtaining the title, they want to predict your success rate at being a timely payer based on your track record. Same exact thing holds true with marriage. If you’re not trying to learn more than you have to the hard way after-the-fact, you’re going to do your homework way before the assignment is given. It’s too expensive to marry unwisely and I’m not referring to monetarily. Why not, work on being the best person you can be for that person now so that the process of 2 becoming 1 will be more natural than something you have to learn by sink or swim on the job?