Hey Wives! What Does "Strong" Mean?

If any of you have met my husband, you know he is a strong man. He is strong in his build, in his voice, and in his confidence. He is extremely extroverted, and so engaging that he makes fast friends. But underneath his confident exterior, there are weaknesses the everyday person doesn't see. His deep love for others and willingness to help them pursue their dreams often blinds him to their disingenuous motives. He is sometimes loyal to a fault. His deep love for me makes him defensive and angry when someone takes advantage of me. His deep love for our children sometimes spoils them (which they don't mind).

It's impossible to fine your %22strong%22 as a wife until you understand your %22strong%22 as a woman..png

I know that Clayton has weaknesses, but sometimes his robust and capable demeanor hides his longing for help from even me. Just last week our family had an argument in El Jimador (a Mexican restaurant down the road). If you were there, you might have seen us exit with not-so-cheerful faces. We had a major breakdown in communication. After we argued out the conflict, I realized our miscommunication stemmed from Clayton's fear of not wanting to be the bad guy in a tough decision. When I heard what was bothering him, I understood his fear because I hate being the "bad guy" too. I hadn't offered my opinion in the situation because Clayton had always "handled" these situations in the past. But when I saw his struggle, I had to find my "strong". I would stand beside him and we would be "bad guys" together. No one likes to be the "bad guy," but it's much easier when someone is standing with you in agreement. 

It's impossible to find your "strong" as a wife until you understand your "strong" as a woman. When God created man, he watched Adam work Eden and categorize the animals by himself. It was a difficult task for one man, so God gives him a "helper suitable for him." The literal translation of "helper suitable" is "ezer kenegdo." Ezer means strong, indispensable, like a warrior. "[Kenegdo] suggests that what God creates for Adam will correspond to him. Thus the new creation will be neither superior nor inferior, but equal. The creation of this helper will form one-half of a polarity and will be to man as the South Pole is to the North Pole."  When God originally forms Eve, she and Adam were not married yet. They were individuals relegated with the task of "ruling the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth." They were tasked to, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it." God had created the earth and everything in it, and now mankind (male individually and female individually) were called to make order of what he had given them. This was a daunting task for one man, and so God created woman to stand beside him; to be fruitful and multiply (this can be in a reproductive or spiritual sense- we will break this down in next week's blog), and to rule and subdue.

People have accused me of being confident, strong-willed, and brave. Inwardly, I believe what they've seen is a strong exterior I've build to hide my insecurities. My husband sees my true strengths, but he's also privy to my tender and weak inner-workings. When my husband is on a mission, his drive feels like a train traveling 100mph on a train track. His exterior is focused, assured and determined, but I've had to hold his head in my arms and comfort him when life brought him uncontrollable pain and loss. In our marriage, we have wrestled through what submission, love and respect look like. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. Sometimes I have been hard headed, and other times I didn't speak my mind about a decision because I thought I was being submissive, but really I was being a coward- afraid of conflict and not wanting to disagree. Relating to one another in marriage is difficult, but it wasn't meant to be. We fight because we fell. But let's take a minute and rewind to our original design, and to the original marriage. 

Relating to one another in marriage is difficult, but it wasn't meant to be. We fight because we fell..png

In Genesis 2:20-23, God causes Adam to fall into a deep sleep and forms the woman from "a portion of Adam's side." When Adam sees her, he says, "This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she will be taken out of man." I've heard many preachers joke about Adam's naming of Eve- calling her Whoa-Man- as if she was created for sex alone. I usually experience an internal eye-roll because I know it's funny to the preacher, but I truly believe these kind of jokes detract from a woman's true purpose. Women were not created for a man, but like him. Women share a common physical make-up with men (not mammals, fish or birds), but our purpose and identity rest in the One who created us just like a man's purpose solely rests in God. We were created to know and reflect God, and to fellowship and work alongside men to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. To know and reflect God is an individual man and an individual woman's primary purpose in life. When we marry, our purpose remains the same, but we have the advantage of doing with with a companion. 

Genesis 2:24-25 speaks of marriage for the first time. It says, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." If you notice, the man is the one who leaves his family and becomes united to his wife. I've heard it taught many times that the woman takes on the man's identity, but here, in the first God-ordained marriage, the man leaves his family and is united to his wife. The man and woman maintain their primary identity with their Creator, but they are joined together in their flesh...and they feel no shame.

Why am I spending so much time on this theology? Because I've met so many single women who think a man will define who they are, and married women who forget their purpose once they find a husband. But, ladies, your husband and your children do not define you, Jesus does. 

When Clayton and I first married, he'd often fly or drive away to preach at different church events. Sometimes fear of him dying would creep into my mind, and I would think, "What will I do if he dies?" I learned to conquer my fear by answering my own question, "I will live. And I will continue to love Jesus no matter what!"

So, wife, what is your "strong?" What is your identity?

Here is mine: I am God's daughter first and foremost. My identity flows from Him, while my flesh is drawn to my husband. My husband and I are one in flesh and joined together in spirit by the Father. Just as God doesn't live alone, but is three in one, Clayton and I are joined together with the Father functioning together as one strong bond. Clayton and I both have our weaknesses and our strengths. We will both fall and fail, but we will also each succeed, and we will celebrate all of it together.

I want to end today with some words from Carolyn Custis James' book, Half the Church

The most significant ezer in a man's life is his wife. Surely this ought to transform how Christian men view and value women and girls. Surely it ought to transform what men consider when choosing a wife and how a husband regards his wife- not as dependent, but as a strong and indispensable ally who shares with him the battles and burdens of everyday life. 

So, wife, what is your "strong?" Are you becoming the woman Jesus created you to be so that your husband can lean on you in difficult times and circumstances? How do you handle conflict? Are you learning how to be strong with him, or expecting your husband to be strong for you?

I hope this blog has given you faith to move forward in your walk with God. I'd love to hear your thoughts. - Sharie

 

© 2018 by Sharie King.  All rights reserved.


 

for more from carolyn custis james on women and theology, check out these podcast episodes!

 
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