This post is part of a group review of Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Help Meet. Molly and Jenna are joining me in a series of reflections on the book. Today's entry serves as an introduction and covers the first two chapters of CTBHHM.
Debi Pearl, as she writes in her acknowledgements, has received "daily letters...during the last several years" that showed her "the heartache and/or the triumph of thousands of women," whose experiences she has used to "identify patterns of success and patterns of destruction."
That may not sound too different from other Christian marriage books...what's the big deal?
The difference is that Debi gives the most relevant, plain, powerful warnings and stories in this book that I've ever read. Debi writes as I suspect she talks, so the book feels more like an intensive Titus 2 session than a self-help manual, which is one of Debi's purposes in writing it (p.15).
I am not even finished with the book yet, and already it has had a tremendous impact on my life. I don't say that lightly; I hardly read books anymore, honestly, except for the Bible. But I see myself in the stories she presents and in the warnings she issues to young wives. The warnings are not general: they are specific portraits of how wives destroy their marriages with the selfishness, anger and bitterness that can fester in a woman's heart over time. (Women, of course, are not solely to blame for everything that happens in a marriage! But Debi seeks here to teach young women how to avoid very real pitfalls that have brought down millions of marriages. It's not a book for men but for women, so the warnings are for us.)
A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.
How often that scripture has come to my mind after reacting foolishly to my own dear husband. How much I have wanted to change. Now I know that for the sake of my marriage, for the sake of harmony in my home, I must change, by the power of God's Spirit. This change is totally in God's will for me, so I can expect His help! I am so tired of knowing the Word and yet feeling trapped by my own reactions. By God's power I can repent of rebellion, anger, and bitterness, and instead cultivate humility, servanthood and a merry heart. (Please don't miss Molly's old posts about overcoming bitterness.)
Debi really isn't presenting any newfangled idea in CTBHHM; it's not a scheme she devised. It's the plan of God for women to submit to their own husbands in everything as unto the Lord (Eph 5:22) and for the husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25). It's the Lord who has warned women about tearing down their houses with their own hands! Walking circumspectly applies to all of life, and certainly to our marriages, which are to be a reflection of Jesus and the church.
The truth is, as Molly has so often written, modern women have been ill-equipped as a generation of women to be help meets, helpers suitable, for men and to be good mothers to children. The feminist movement sold many of our mothers a pack of lies about "having it all:" the necessity of a career, the expendability of children and husbands, the importance of self before all else. The feminist lies have only become more polished over the years, and this post-emergent feminist generation doesn't even know what a beautiful marriage looks like, for the most part. But there is hope for us that is found in recognizing the commands given to women in the Word of God, and obeying those commands. I do not want to be bereft of the blessings that come with total surrender to the ways of our God.
Excerpt from Jenna's entry that I totally identify with:
"More than anything, I had to deal with the realization that there was nothing wrong with serving my husband. God did slowly convict my heart though, when I read through the creation story yet again, this time as a woman. I was somewhat shocked to come to the realization that woman was created in response to man's need....Whether I am crunching numbers like a personal accountant, whirling a whisk at the speed of light as a cook, or nurturing a sick child, I am doing just what I want to do."
I feel the same way, though I have no child to nurture. Everything I do in my house, every kindness I can show to Ryan, is shown to Christ. Serving him is serving the Lord, particularly since the Lord has shown us in His Word that this is His perfect will for women.
Over the course of the next few Tuesdays, Molly, Jenna and I will continue to reflect on Created to Be His Help Meet, sharing with you the insights we've gleaned from it. This book is going to have a permanent place on my shelf. I may just buy one for every woman I know. :)