I consider my husband, Edric, to be a strong leader, especially as a husband and father. Yet there are seasons when he is emotionally and spiritually down. It’s during these occasions that I must love him by being his strong ally and supporter. Being strong doesn’t mean I take over his role or start wearing the pants. Rather it means that I must come along side him to help in whatever way he needs me to, which very often translates to encouragement and prayer.
This past week, Edric got into one of his emotional slumps due to our finances. Because of his decision to let go of ANC’s On the Money, as well as turn down speaking invitations for corporations to focus on the home education business for the balance of the year, he began to worry about our dwindling personal income. Although he tried to process his anxiety with spiritual lenses, it was one of those moments when he was yearning for assurance and needed someone to talk to.
When I was a younger wife my style was to point out the mistakes that Edric would make and challenge his decision-making by offering my own supposedly “great” ideas and advice. My intentions were to “help” by course-correcting – redirecting his decisions or telling him what he should do. However, I’ve come to realize that this approach only made him feel more frustrated with himself and others. In this sense I was doing him a disservice. I had to recognize that my role was to help him fix his eyes on Christ when he began to feel the weight and burden of leading our family and the organizations he was entrusted with.
What does this mean? When my husband is feeling emotionally or spiritually weak, I should…
Elevate God to his rightful place in both our hearts — as sovereign, all mighty, and good.
Be thankful for what the Lord has given us. Avoid dwelling on what He may be purposefully withholding. In doing so, my attitude of praise can have a positive impact on Edric.
Pray with and for Edric to keep following God, honoring Him, doing his best to be excellent in everything he has been called to do, to be endowed with supernatural wisdom and capacity, and to trust the Lord’s plans and His ways.
On the afternoon when he opened up to me we took a walk in our backyard to survey the progress of our garden project. I could sense Edric’s readiness to confide in me. Apart from the financial concerns there were a number of business issues that disappointed and frustrated him. So, I had to ready myself. Don’t add to Edric’s discouragement by complaining, belittling, judging, or getting anxious yourself. Tell him instead, God has never let us down. He will continue to take care of us and provide for us.
I believe this with all my heart. God is always faithful. Although I too worry when Edric gets anxious about his business decisions and our finances, I settle my emotions with the reality that God is bigger and greater, and He is ever in control. When I come from this point of truth, I am able to minister to Edric during his moments of honesty and vulnerability. I am able to come alongside him and speak life into him, reviving his spirit.
Our husbands need this from us, wives. I wish I could say that I had a perfect score for encouragement but there are times when I let my mouth speak before I’ve thought through how to respond and Edric. As a result he feels no better for having confided in me. In fact, he will sometimes think that he ought to have kept his woes and fears to himself, since I only magnified them with my panicky reactions.
The good news is that when I do a good “job” as his encourager, it makes him want to share with me again and again in the future. More importantly, his hope in the Lord is restored and he feels spiritually and emotionally strong enough to re-embrace his role as a leader.
Personally, I feel the best part is when he actually turns to me and gestures for a hug. He needs a big, long embrace after we talk, just to know that I am there for him, that we are in this together, with the Lord, as a team.
That afternoon, Edric and I hugged for a while. Then we lingered on the patio, enjoying the breeze of the evening air while taking in the last rays of light that faded into the backdrop of a darkening sky overhead. We ended our heart to heart moment with prayer.
Immediately afterwards, God brought his comfort and assurance. He let us hear the sound of our children laughing in the background, as they romped around in the yard, among the holes and dirt mounds that the laborers had worked on that day. Edric and I directed our attention to their playful banter, so amused at their merriment that we couldn’t help but smile ourselves. We watched them jump from one dirt hill to another, barefoot and soiled, neither tiring or caring that night had settled in as they continued in their play, oblivious to our conversation or the concerns we had exchanged.
Their laughing voices were a wonderful reminder from the Lord that there is much joy in our lives to praise Him for! To hear our children enjoying themselves so unreservedly while playing in the dirt! They were happy and well, by His grace. What more could we really ask for?
More significantly, we dwelled on the reality that we have the God of this Universe as our Heavenly Father. What other riches can be better than the fullness and infinite largeness of Him? If we have less and own less, our God’s capacity to provide isn’t lessened. He remains the owner and sustainer of all things. And He will continue to care for our needs as he always has so that we can also care for the needs of others.
“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
Lastly, if our children found ways to celebrate holes and unremarkable dirt hills, might we not learn to see the win-less seasons of our lives with the same childlike wonder and faith, anticipating that we are merely stepping on a portion of God’s greater canvas? There’s a beautiful plan coming to fruition while pieces of us (our husbands’ lives as well as our lives) are under His divine construction. So why not perceive the mud as part of the adventure and enjoy it together?!
Well, the good news is that the Edric awoke the next day renewed in Spirit. God also spoke to Edric through His word and comforted him with promises.
“…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
What did I learn (relearn) as a wife? I need to love my husband and support him through his difficult and trying seasons, when he doesn’t always feel strong or in control. These are occasions when I get to live out what being a helpmate means — spiritually and emotionally supporting Edric (and giving him big hugs and affectionate embraces) so he can go out and fight the battles God has called him to with renewed vigor and resolve!
Let’s stand by our husbands, ladies!