You are reading Part Two of the mini-series subtitled “The Virtuous Woman.”
Our early years here in Italy were tough. In addition to culture shock and language barriers, we barely had money for necessities! We worried over nutrition and properly-fitting clothing for our kids. The paesani in our village avoided us, except for those on the fringes of society. Perhaps we seemed like one of them. They often accepted our invitation to visit, usually showing up at lunchtime! Many a day the soup was even more watery than usual.
I was often worried and afraid. But worst of all, was the nagging feeling of failure. Failure as a parent that my kids had to go without necessities. Failure as a child of God and missionary. We must have heard wrong, and shouldn’t have come here at all. We couldn’t even hear God’s voice clearly. What kind of missionaries were we?
The untrustworthy wife
All this filled our marriage with tension and arguing. Yet Hubby remained as convinced as ever that we’d heard from God, and intent on staying in Italy. And then a thought came to me. “You can make him a failure so he’ll have to move back to the USA.”
I knew that voice, and knew it didn’t come from above. But even knowing the source, I stubbornly grabbed it as a source of hope, instinctively realizing that a wife does indeed have powerful influence over her husband – for good or for bad. I started fighting my husband tooth and nail. Rather than contributing to our marriage and ministry, I became a weight. A stubborn, whiney, wimpy weight.
It’s not that I didn’t love my husband or the Lord. I did, and I truly wanted to become a good and godly wife. And I tried to submit to his leadership. But to perfectly honest, I didn’t really know how.
A submitted wife?
In church we were just told to submit, whatever that meant. I hadn’t a clue! Did it mean I couldn’t voice my opinion? Had to stop thinking for myself? And if I was certain my husband was wrong?
In the meantime, we did end up back in the states for a time. Not because of my stubbornness, but to pay off old and foolish debts. With Hubby, of course, already planning our return to Italy. While I dragged my feet, hoping the door would somehow close!
But I loved my husband, and didn’t want to hurt him. So I vowed to never again fight against the one I love, or try to make him fail. But how could I become like the faithful, trustworthy wife of Proverbs 31? How was I supposed to submit – without annhilating who I was?
Becoming a trustworthy wife
And then at a homeschooling conference, I heard just the word I needed. And a great principle on submission and becoming a good and trustworthy helpmate.
“Believe in your man, and stand by him. No matter what.”
The speaker shared that God has given the hardest part of the marriage to man.
- The final decision, according to Scripture, is up to him. And some decisions are extremely hard to make.
- God expects him to hear his voice and lead the family according to and into his Word.
- And the Lord questions him, not us, if we stray or our kids grow up wanting nothing to do with God. What a huge responsibility!
The conference speaker that day shared that no man feels up to the task. Is it any wonder? I sure wouldn’t feel capable of it! Hubby later told me that he didn’t either. I’ve thought about this a lot through the years, and even taught on it.
There are already plenty of critics out there, just waiting to chop our legs out from under us. My husband already had plenty of people who doubted what we were doing and questioned how he was leading our family. Lots of criticism, along with more than enough internal doubt of his own! The fact was plain and simple. He needed me to believe in him.
The trustworthy wife believes in her husband.
Hubby has since told me that the only thing that kept him going at times was knowing that I believed him! By believing in him, even though I didn’t always understand, I helped him believe in himself!
And through the years, I’ve come to see that this is a crucial element of being a submissive wife and helpmate. Believe in your man, and tell him so. Tell him “You can do it and I’ll help you! Together with God we’re invincible!”
Not a mindless dormat
This doesn’t mean becoming a simpering, mindless doormat. But it does mean leaving the final decision to him.
Has my husband made wrong decisions? Yes, and I’m sure yours has too. They are human. Have some of the wrong decisions gotten us into messes, or made things hard? Yes, but he’s always worked extra hard at working them out and taking care of us anyway.
Other times, because I’ve voiced a contrary opinion, it has kept him from making wrong decisions. Yet many of our best lessons have come through those ‘wrong decisions.’ And the Lord has always seen us through.
In looking back through the years, I would only change one thing: Being foolish and carnal enough to ever have listened to that evil voice. But I’m grateful too. Because through that circumstance I learned what it means to become a true and trustworthy helpmate.
- I learned that standing by him meant never purposefully doing him hard, but working to help him succeed.
- To be the voice of encouragement that keeps him going when he wonders if he can go on.
- And to believe in him when he doesn’t even believe in himself.
So have I become the perfect helpmate? Far from it! For it’s a lifelong process. But I am at least I am now working in the right direction, toward good and healthy goals. And with the Lord’s help strive to meet them.
What husband wouldn’t trust in a heart that strives to see him succeed? And wouldn’t consider her worth to be far above rubies?
Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband trusts in her. He shall have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.Proverbs 31:10-12
We can make our man invincible! And in doing so, we come out victorious too!