There is a tendency in our society that seeing a single as someone who is lacking of something [read: mate]. No wonder, there are many people who have lack of appreciation of singleness.It seems like being single will make you lonely and you will look like a weirdo. The conditions are getting worse when in our culture [Indonesians] people love to go in a group-setting. It is entirely different with the Westerns. We are not so comfortable to be alone in the midst of crowd while for Westerns they are very okay with it. But the truth is this ... single does not mean alone. Single does mean alone when we do not embrace it thankfully and we lack of its noble purpose. Singleness is a great season in life where we can live generously, serve limitlessly, and developing relationship with God intimately.
The singles enjoy some benefits which married people may be restricted to, for example, time.
One thing that moves my heart is that I see ignorance of single people regarding their future marriage. Instead of getting busy with preparing ourselves in order to get ready spiritually, mentally, and physically for marriage; we are busy of things that have no added value for days to come. Great marriage does not just happen. Even pre-marital counseling is not enough. I mean ... how can 3-6 months of 'learning' of marriage getting ourselves completely prepared for marriage. I do not undervalue pre-marital counseling, but I do believe that there are something that should be developed since we are single and have not even met our mate. Something so priceless that will take TIME and EFFORT to build it. In this article, I would like to elaborate what we can do in our singleness as a woman in order to be a helper God intended to be for a man. In later post, I would present it from the men's side too :) [I took it from Derek and Ruth Prince book, "God is a Matchmaker"]
Ruth Prince once said a very vital key in order to be a good helper in the future. She said, "What I discovered then, and continue to discover, is that the same qualities that make a woman pleasing to the Lord will make her pleasing to her mate." Wow.. doesn't it sound simple? In short, if we develop Godly character, then automatically we are pleasing to our mate.
She continued, "If you will approach preparation for marriage at the earthly level with your heart turned toward the Lord Jesus, remembering that your ultimate destiny is to be part of His beautiful Bride, then what you gain will be not temporal happiness, but eternal bliss. Preparation for marriage will also prepare you for Jesus."
How does God view us as women? He described her: "I will make a helper suitable for [man]" (Genesis 2:18). Now here is the highlighted truth: A woman's nature finds expression and fulfillment in helping. Doesn't it sound so noble? Indeed, God has designed us with such a noble purpose! Later in the book, Ruth Prince offered us her 12 suggestions regarding what we can do in order to fulfilled our noble purpose :)
1) Prepare to be a Helper
A great marriage does not begin by finding a mate, it is by beginning with ourselves. Of course, the vocation of our husband will determine a lot specifically where we can fit our role as a helper into. Normally, however, the primary way a wife helps her husband is by making a home for him. This is true whether she is a full-time housewife or a working wife. In my personal opinion, the degree of warmth in the home will determine how comfortable the members of the household to linger in it :)
This is true for husband and children.So it is about bringing the atmosphere of home into the house. We can decorate it, keep it clean, do the laundry, makes a good lunch or dinner [if we don't have time to cook, at least we provide it in other way ;)] The woman also has the responsibility to God and to her husband to mold and shape the characters of the little lives that are entrusted to them.
It is from his home that the husband goes out to the world, to succeed or fail, to be fulfilled or frustrated.The wife who creates an atmosphere of love and ecouragement, of peace and stability, can expect to share in the blessings and rewards of her husband's successes.
Whether homemaking is interesting and challenging or dull and dreary is determined by her attitude. If you will prepare your attitude now, and view your future home as the means of expressing your love and gratitude toward God and your husband, you will have taken the first step toward being a happy, successful, fulfilled wife. A working wife will find a greater challenge to balance her primary role in home and her secondary role in workplace. It is not forbidden however to be a working wife, as long as your primary role is not neglected ;)
2) Cultivate Your Relationship with the Lord
Remember that relationships take time. We must be willing to spend time with the Lord, to worship Him, to read His Word, to pray, to wait upon Him. Without this, we can never fully develop. Bear in mind that no woman can give to her husband any more than she has within her. A woman's full beauty and potential will never be realized if she is underdeveloped spiritually.
NOW is the time to lay a solid foundation on which to build throughout a lifetime whether single or married.
Give God your best time. For most of us, this is early in the morning before we face the world. Single women can learn to focus on Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom. Once we can see him this way, we can do nothing less than make the expression of our love for Him our highest priority. Ruth practiced this by waking up at 5 so that she would not cheat the Lord and go to work daily at 7.30 AM.We barely imagine this far, that relationship does take discipline to be developed ;)
Begin with thanksgiving and praise. Ruth begins each day by thanking Him for loving her, for the blood of Jesus, for the beauty of creation, for the privilege of serving Him. She could not sing, but she memorizes the lyrics of hymn while taking a bath, brushing her teeth, and even putting on make up.
Read your Bible before you pray. We honor God by allowing Him to speak to us before we begin to speak to Him.
Keep a prayer list, especially if you pray alone. Do not give all your prayer time to problem people. Pray also for those making an impact for the Kingdom of God. Salvation, healing, direction, spiritual leaders, specific segments of the Church, nations can be things that we pray for :) Pray for yourself too :) And keep in note for the Scripture which speaks the most to you at that moment :)
Don't limit the Lord to quiet times. We can relate to the Lord continually. Ruth always have the conversational lines open. She learned especially to communicate with the Lord when her hands were busy but her mind was free -washing dishes, ironing, personal grooming, driving car. She listened to Scripture recordings or Bible teachings too. These habits have enriched her single life and continue to enrich her married life.
Check on yourself to make sure God is in first place. "If you were ever closer to Jesus than you are today, you are backslidden" Choose to be close to Him in constant basis.
3) Cultivate Commitment and Loyalty
You cannot begin to practice commitment and loyalty the day you get married.If you have not first given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord, and then to some person or cause, you will not be prepared to give yourself to your husband.
If you are employed, are you committed to your employer? Or are you hireling who counts the hours and looks for excuses for time off? If you live at home, do you take responsibility for your tasks, or do you always have to be reminded? Are you loyal to your family? When you make a promise, do you keep it, or do you find an excuse to renege? Are you committed to your church? Can you be depended on to carry through on projects for which you have volunteered?
4) Cultivate Your own Self-Esteem
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit - 2 Corinthians 3:18
Satan's primary activity against believers is accusation. Another is discouragement. Our best answer, just as it was for Jesus, is the Word of God. As you read and pray, the Holy Spirit may show you areas in which you need to change or improve. Do not yield to condemnation or self-pity when it happens.Rather ask God to help you and exercise your own will to bring it about. Embrace this truth: Whom the Son has set free is free indeed!
An important result of developing your self-esteem is that you will be better able to encourage and build up your husband. Thus you will be able to help him reach his own full potential. Her opinion of him is vital for his success. She can encourage him, pray for him, and then have the excitement of watching God to bring it to fulfillment.
5) Be Willing to Learn
Be willing to learn practical homemaking skills: sewing, cooking and nutrition, child care, household management, home decorating, flower arranging, handicrafts [ehem .. all of these are optional.. but I know you know they are important ;)]. Do not underestimate the value if sport and physical fitness activities. Being healthy is essential to be a strong helper. Make this a priority in order to develop the practical skills. The well-prepared always do things better than the unprepared.
We can also learn to babysit in advance. We can get to know how the children communicate, response, feel, and so on. Be dilligent to avoid passive occupations that leave you empty and your senses dulled, especially television. You are a beautiful creation with God's life within you. You can never recover a lost day, or a lost our. By all means relax in ways that will build you up. Use your time wisely now. Now is the opportunity to invest your time in activities that will bring forth dividends throughout your life,
whether single or married.
6) Be Willing to Serve
There is no better way for a woman to express her love for her husband than by serving him. The loving wife will study her husband and learn to anticipate his needs even before he asks. Keeping your home as your expression of love for your husband and as a service for him will take away the drudgery.
How can you prepare beforehand to serve your husband? By serving others with gladness of heart! If you are willing to serve others, to be faithful in the little things and over someone else's property, God will, in His time, give you your own.
Serving is not limited in homemaking stuff, it is also in areas where your skills and talents can contribute to your husband's vocation ;) I am amazed how Ruth has served Derek gladyly in their marriage life. She even claimed that what satisfied her the most was serving Derek. Even before she married, she began to look for ways to lift burdens from Him. She tried to keep life as uncomplicated for him as possible, whether they are at home or on ministry journeys. One thing astounds me is that when most women travels by bringing additional bag for their make ups and other girlie stuff, Ruth carried in her suitcase a variety of gadgets and provisions to make Derek as comfortable as possible :)
7) Be Willing to Adjust to Your Husband's Priorities
It is the wife's duty to be flexible, ready to adapt to her husband's desires because he is the head (1 Cor 11:3). He sets the pattern for the way their lives will flow together. The wife should be queen in home, but the husband is king!
Flexibility is needed not only for big moves, but in the little things of daily life. At first, Ruth was a morning person; Derek is a night person. By the grace of God, Ruth changed so that they both keep the same schedule. She had also learned to nap with him in the afternoon ;)
There are many women who frequently change their hair and clothing styles, the way they cook, and so on. But pleasing your husband will bring you many more blessings than pleasing yourself.
8) Learn to Pray and Intercede for Others
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests ... Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. Pray also for me (Ephesians 6:18-19).
God is looking for intercessors. As you spend time with the Lord daily, ask Him to show you what is on His heart that you can pray about. As you learn to intercede, there will be no shortage of topics. God will bring people and situations to your mind. And people will ask for your prayers.
The benefits of being intercessors are it takes our minds of ourselves and prepares us to intercede for our husbands. Learning to pray with a partner too will prepare you to pray for your husband.
9) Learn Proper Care for Your Body
Once God spoke to Derek: "If you are to fulfill the ministry I have for you, you will need a strong, healthy body, and you are putting on too much weight." Yes the message is clear : We need strong, healthy bodies to fulfill God's plans for our lives.
Feeding the family and developing good food habits is the wife's responsibility. The more you can learn before you marry, and the more appealing your recipes you have already perfected, and more ready you will to keep your husband and children well and strong.
Make sure you do sport in routine basis. It has many other positive effects such as to overcome boredom and frustration :) An extra benefit: Physically fit, properly nourished young women have much easier pregancies and labor, and have healthier babies ;)
10) Observe the Wife's Behavior in Exemplary Marriages
Choose a role model whom you admire in her effort in being a Godly helper for her husband. There is always something to learn from different types of wives out there. We are not going to completely copy them for God has created us all unique :)Bear in mind, too, that someday you may be someone's role model, if you dilligent to prepare yourself and continue your development after marriage. You want to be able to say, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor 1:11)
11) Trust God: Be Willing to Wait
God loves you. "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). He will care for you whether you are single or married.
Too often women enter into a marriage because they fear they will never have another chance. Then they learn that it was better to be single than to be married to the wrong man. Their lives become shipwrecked,and often the lives of their children and grandchildren as well.
Some women may wait quite long fully in trust to the Lord, and in the end meet her best mate in old age. God's timing, as odd as it seems, is the best after all.
12) Set Your Goals, Establish Your Priorities
Review points 1 through 11 in the sections above. Ask the Lord in what areas you need to develop at the moment. Make a list which you could attain in the next three months, six months, and new year. Be realistic. Consider your present abilities. Do not aim to run in a marathon in a week :) After setting goals, you can establish priorities that will lead you to them. Do not try to do everything at once.
Begin to bring your use of time in line with the defree of importance of each activity. Fit your new goals in their appropriate places. As you shift your priorities, your life will begin to change.
So, how's the journey? :D Let us prepare to be a great helper to our future spouse as God intended it to be! Such a noble calling!