My wife, Cornelia, and I sat in the home of a pastor and his wife, trying hard not to evade the marital issues that faced this couple. They had been married for many years and had a beautiful family, yet they’d reached a critical period in their relationship. Would their marriage survive?
In an attempt to bridge the widening communication gap between this husband and wife, we asked them to draw pictures of how they felt about issues such as their marriage, each other as individuals, their children, their ministry work and, most importantly, Christ. A quick scan of their drawings highlighted a disturbing feature. In the corner of the sheet about their marriage, the pastor’s wife had drawn a small circle with her name inside, indicating she felt terribly alone and insignificant.
The subsequent discussions and behavioural changes became the turning point in this couple’s marriage. The lines of communication are now open; they’ve started verbalising their thoughts and actively listening to each other. I’m happy to report their marriage is now strong and vibrant—just as God intended.
Many women find themselves in the same condition as this pastor’s wife. And the feeling isn’t restricted to marriage; it permeates their existence.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of attending the annual Women’s Conference at Belgrave Heights Convention in the mountains east of Melbourne, Australia. In 2009, the conference organisers chose one of Insight for Living’s LifeMaps books as the centrepiece of the conference: Releasing Worry and Finding Worth as a Woman. I believe it should be required reading for every woman . . . and every man. It highlights the supreme worth of women, helping them start on a journey of releasing the constraints of low self-esteem.
How better equipped would our pastor’s wife, and indeed the pastor himself, have been if they had understood God’s unique design of women? While men, generally, have much work to do in understanding and affirming their female counterparts, women also need to take an active approach in understanding themselves. Rather than live in a small circle in the corner, God desires they fill their world with the bountiful and beautiful attributes He has given them. And their spouses must choose to strengthen, not sabotage, that effort.
My job as a husband, father, and friend—in fact, it’s every man’s job—is to support, encourage, affirm, and actively communicate to the women in my life that God hasn’t placed them in a small circle to live isolated and alone. Instead, God actively seeks to enlarge their circles so they may become the people He intends.