I think we would all agree: as followers of Jesus, we are called to “love one another,” just as Christ loved us (John 13:34). Unfortunately, we don’t always know how to carry out this command. Too often, it is the very seasons of struggle that we are called to love others through, that we unintentionally isolate and hurt our sisters in Christ. Help Wanted is a series designed to shed light into just a few of those specific struggles and how we can help, not hurt, the ones experiencing them.
By Karen Adams
I’m THAT woman.
I scorned the idea of women’s ministry and took twisted pride in my identity as an outsider. How could any of those women possibly understand my situation? Oh how I felt like THAT “poor childless, uncovered woman” pitied by happy housewives alike. I did not feel like Jesus blessed me in my baking.
I share more in common with the Woman at the Well than that pesky Proverbs 31 chick. Just as my well-girl attempted to dodge the subject of her co-habitation by arguing over theology, so I dodged the fellowship and discipleship with female believers with the argument of my “outsider” status. That is until the Spirit cut through my cynicism and pride.
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.“ -John 4:10
I wish I had known the gift of discipleship and the unique way in which the Holy Spirit speaks through women of Christ much earlier on in my life. I now know that gift and am a changed woman because of it. Over the last few years, I have had the honor of participating in Bible studies and, most recently, a close discipleship group of Heritage women.
How did I get to this point? It began with those persistent church ladies, Laura Adams and Kathy Johnston. A seemingly innocent bible study of Titus became a paradigm-busting, life-giving experience.
What does this true discipleship look like? It looks like a mess, a Pinterest fail, and a whole lotta carb consumption while gushing over the latest interlinear Bible study app or someone’s brand new Strong’s concordance. It looks like tired women after a long day, seeking life-giving and convicting fellowship. Above all, it looks like women who are honest about their lives and their desire to seek the heart of Christ; not a twelve-step plan to better homemaking or winning over our unbelieving husbands.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”-Matthew 16:24
When we seek Christ, we find our identity; when we know our identity in Christ, we know our identity as women- and the immense power and responsibility that it entails. We are set free from narrowly defining our womanhood as “wife”, “mother”, “daughter”, “homemaker”, “homewrecker”.
We can be the ezer kenegdo to our husbands, friends, family, co-workers.
We can nurture life that is neither biologically ours or limited to mini-humans.
It is through knowing the women of Heritage and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit that I no longer consider myself just THAT woman.
I am also EVERY biblical woman.
And pretty darn good at baking too…
How to encourage your fellow “Yokers”:
- Encourage us to sit with you! The perception of being an outcast is increased when we feel like we need to sit by ourselves. We might be shy at first but encourage us to be a part of your family pew time.
- Do not compare or criticize our absent spouse. The hearts of our husbands cannot fully trust us if we are drawn into “if only my husband…”. Suffering and diversity are part of God’s plan and bring glory to God when rightly dealt with. “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
- Encourage us in our walk with Christ first, in making Jesus our ultimate Treasure rather than the outward appearance of our lives. We already know our lives are dysfunctional. Jesus came to heal the broken.
Encouragement for my fellow “Yokers”
- Don’t manipulate or force your spouse to attend church
Only the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of our hearts (Ephesians 1:18). Just because they are in attendance does not mean they are hearing, and it is too easy to become distracted from your own time to worship God corporately if you are concerned about what they are thinking.
- Don’t take responsibility that is not yours
You are not responsible for your spouse’s eternal outcome. Only Christ can provide salvation; it is found in none other (Acts 4:12). Your responsibility is to Christ, then your spouse, and then your children. Additionally,we can still honor the headship of our husbands and God’s design for marriage even in an unequally yoked one.1 Peter 3 is the quintessential verse.
- Do check your motives
Check it before you wreck it, girl. Do you want your husband to know Christ because it will make you “fit in” better at church? Are you praying for the “gifts” you perceive to be all yours when he finally “gets it”? This is dangerous territory. Our motives drive our words and actions which hold tremendous power, and timing is key. Our hearts are deceitful (Jer 17:9) and we must be alert to the motives that drive our desire to see conversion. Paul calls those who are married to live as though they are not (1 Cor 7:9). Are you really ready to see your husband put Christ above everything, and everyone, including YOU?
- Do seek Christ first, always
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:3). Yes, I can see your eye roll from here. Before you pick up the latest book on fixing your husband and God’s plan for marriage, pickup the Book, and seek the relationship that matters first and forever.