I recently sat behind a deaf man and his wife during a church service. It was an incredibly encouraging experience as I watched them passionately sign through the songs the rest of the congregation was singing out loud, pacing themselves to the rhythm of the music. As we sat down to hear the announcements made by one of the pastors and then as the sermon was preached, I watched her husband turn slightly toward her so that he could watch as she translated all that was said.
As I observed the beautiful and natural way they interacted, I couldn’t help but think about how dependent he was on her. From the timing of his signs while we sang, to his ability to understand what his pastor was seeking to teach him, everything was dependent on his having a wife who was willing to serve him in this way–to love him in this way. Though he is the God-ordained leader of their family, for much of his interaction with the hearing world, he relies upon his beloved’s pivotal help.
I thought about how different her daily life probably looks compared to my own and how her role as her husband’s helper differed from my role as my husband’s helper. Both of us are married to unique men with unique personalities and strengths and weaknesses. Our husbands are very different and thus require different kinds of service. Though we are both called to love, honor, and submit to our husbands in Scripture, the way in which we do that will be unique to the specific needs of the men we have been called to serve.
I was convicted as I thought over these things because I realized how I often chafe at the specific requests my marriage asks of me. I have this picture in my mind of how a typical husband and wife should be interacting and what their list of responsibilities and priorities should be. When something different than this picture is asked of me, my selfish flesh makes me reluctant to submit.
But I am called to love, honor, and submit to one man and that is my husband. In God’s providence and grace, I’m the wife of a unique human being who is seeking to submit to a unique calling. My responsibilities as his helpmate are not defined by others or by some perceived “normal,” but by God himself, who has perfectly fitted my husband and I to one another.
This does not mean that our relationship will be easy. On the contrary, part of God’s perfect fitting of us together is for the purpose of our sanctification. You could say that part of our “fitting” is the fact that we don’t really “fit.” Indeed, many of the ways that I am called to serve my husband will rub against my very nature as the Lord lovingly smooths out my many sinful imperfections through them. A husband and wife’s unique personalities, strengths, and weaknesses are designed by their Heavenly Father for the other’s good–in every way.
And so, as I sat behind this couple I was challenged to have a heart that seeks to serve my own husband in the ways he needs, not the ways that other husbands might need. For this, I must seek the Lord’s guidance and grace, for he is the Sovereign over all of life and the one who has placed me in this marriage for specific reasons.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12, ESV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24, ESV)