As Christ the church – this comparison greatly helped me giving Marcel this place in my heart as head over me, and also voluntarily and gladly submit to him as my head. It is quite obvious that Jesus is the head of us as a church. No church member would want to claim this place for himself. We quite obviously and gladly place ourselves under His protection, ask Him for counsel, obey Him, take shelter in Him – always in full confidence that He wants only the best – a fulfilled life – for us, for me. If a man loves me as Jesus loves the church, then submission couldn‘t be anything so difficult. No, submission would even become a desire.
And if my husband doesn‘t love me as Jesus loves the church? Even then the place God assigns me is the one where I would experience God‘s blessing. The woman who was not loved by her husband would suffer in any case.
Losing my life
At this point, the battle for my place and my rights came to a stop. So after the first four years of marriage we were then able to formulate what we had actually wanted at the beginning: not to continually compete with each other, but to genuinely help each other grow to be the man and the woman who God, our Creator, had in mind. This was and is a great challenge because one has to completely look away from one‘s own self and concepts and allow himself to be given God‘s view of the other. It is the principle of the kernel of wheat, which is valid in God‘s Kingdom: Whoever wants to keep his life will lose it, and whoever gives it will win it, with much fruit besides.
I experience protection, counsel and life
In this awareness that my husband‘s place and commission is completely different from the woman‘s, and that I would not want to exchange, it became easier and easier for me to submit to my husband – as to the Lord. After all, it was not difficult for me with Jesus, either, except when I had a completely different opinion from His! And when I had a different opinion from Marcel‘s? Then I could still ask, attempt to understand, express my viewpoint, and finally trust that my husband also wants the best for me, that he is not «selfish, egotistical, and much too concerned with himself to be truly capable of bothering about my needs as a woman» – but rather that he gives his life for me. Once I had arrived there, it was not difficult either to sometimes simply obey. Not that Marcel was flawless, but I often experienced Jesus in him. Jesus met me in him. In him I experience what the church experiences in Jesus: protection, counsel and fulfilled life.
Jesus encounters me in Marcel
I experienced this in the most concentrated way when I was ill, as I have already written:
God helped me especially through Marcel. I experienced that through him Jesus came near me, talked to me, encouraged and reminded me again and again.
In this time of weakness and great tension it was relaxing and comforting to be sheltered and fully covered under Marcels spiritual authority. I could tell him all my questions, attacks and doubts. To him it was never too much, even when again and again I fell into the same doubts. I could fully confide in him and didn‘t have to hide my weakness and bareness. Whenever I lost courage and sight, he helped me to settle my thoughts and turn toward God.
I was very much encouraged by Marcel‘s unconditional affirmation for me. Whatever I had to offer him was gone. Now I was nothing, neither as his wife nor as mother of our children. I no longer was his helpmate but rather an additional burden. In spite of this, Marcel‘s love for me was left unaltered and became even deeper visible. Again and again I experienced: He loves me and not the work I had done for him, the burden I had taken for him or anything else I could have offered him. He not only let me feel his undivided love but told me of it continually. The intensity of love which is based not only on emotions became a vital experience for me.»
I know that these qualities are not simply Marcel‘s natural gifts. In his own struggle to fulfill his whole responsibility as a man, plus the fact that he will have to give account to God, Jesus has increasingly taken on form – how else could a person answer to these demands!
God‘s feminine characteristics
Up to that point, God had answered many of my questions. But I still wondered why God‘s feminine side is so little known. I was convinced from the creation story that it must be there. And suddenly, again while reading His word, I discovered God‘s feminine characteristics in the person of the Holy Spirit. I was again impressed by the place of the Holy Spirit and of the Father right at the beginning of Creation:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Gen. 1:1-2).
The Spirit was simply there, waiting, expecting, ready. Those are unequivocally feminine traits, like a pregnant woman, in contrast to God the Father: He created something new, divided, commanded. Even His word had great consequences!
The Holy Spirit‘s commission and being
The person of the Holy Spirit is described directly in just a few places in God‘s word. We know best how the Holy Spirit acts, about His gifts and His fruits. He is the helper and the comforter, He reminds, He comes to us, He is always with us, He creates relationship and fellowship, etc. But His personality is quite in the background and can be recognized only when we look a second time. This is in contrast to the personality of the Father, who is obviously the mighty, strong God, whose word is like the roar of the waters, the Lord of hosts. He has the plan, He gives the orders and commands.
The Holy Spirit is the one who carries them out. At creation He entered us human beings, He came upon Mary, He is poured out in our hearts, He testifies to our spirit that we are God‘s children, etc. He always comes on the commission and in the name of the Father, never on His own, never in His own name. In Isaiah 63:10 the Father‘s relationship to the Holy Spirit shines out: Yet they (God‘s people) rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he (God) became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
The Father gives the Holy Spirit His personal protection. He personally (in other places He often sends out His armies and His angels) and vehemently (He even turns Himself into an enemy!) looks after His well-being. The Holy Spirit is apparently easily hurt, He is sensitive. He needs the Father‘s protection and affection. When the Holy Spirit is hurt, it is worse for the Father than if He Himself had been offended.
The woman is similar to the Holy Spirit
All of this made it clearer to me how God really intended the relationship between man and woman: The man should have plans and a vision for his wife, children, work, the future… He gives the instructions. My place as a woman is different: Like the Holy Spirit, I should first of all just be there, available, ready. Like Him, I am under an authority (the man is my head) and do not act in my own name. My husband will be called to account before God for what I do and the way I do it. Far-reaching decisions must be made by him, even if they affect my life. This requires my husband to concern himself with my affairs and to form an opinion. Like the Holy Spirit, I am especially dependent on protection, love, and affection. Evil can strike and trample me as a woman much more easily than a man.
Marriage and Trinity
It became totally clear to me that marriage, which was invented and set up by God, simply mirrors the relationship also found in the Trinity. They are founded on absolute trust and respect which the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have for each other – if that can be expressed in such human words… With my whole being I could now joyfully take the place God had intended for me. With the clear commission to relate to my husband as the Holy Sprit relates to the Father, I wanted to make myself available for all the different tasks and plans of my husband: to be there , comfort, encourage, help. I also began much more consciously and actively claiming Marcel‘s protection and seeking his counsel.
Set free to rule
Saying Yes to my place as a woman set me free to completely fill the area God had given me to rule over.
It freed me to become like the woman described in Proverbs 31: a goal-oriented, wise woman who knows her field of action and totally fulfills her responsibility there. In everything she does she strives to free her husband and her sons for their tasks. She gives her life for that. Nothing she does serves merely her self-presentation and self-realization. Like a queen she directs her Department of the Interior, distributing, assigning tasks, setting accents, giving counsel, and enlarging her property. Her dominion is hidden to most outsiders, but that does not bother her, for her children arise and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all‘ (Prov. 31: 28-29).
What greater recognition can a woman receive than this!
I need a head
Today I must say of God‘s order: He made it very well! He granted the woman the place which he also created and equipped her to fulfill. He does not require too much. The same is true of the man: He equipped him to fulfill the task he gave him (even if many men today do not want to fulfill this responsibility).
As a testimony to God‘s blessing I can say that I experience respect and recognition from my husband and my children. I experience protection from Marcel when the children are insolent and disobedient toward me. And I experience Marcel‘s counsel and concern in the myriad things which occupy me. Under his protection, my kingdom has become large and rich.
We keep turning to each other in order to keep our relationship genuine. We neither want to pretend anything nor withdraw from each other. Thus we have been able to grow into a mutual and complementary relationship in which each one receives from the other‘s riches.
Our marriage has become a place of security for us. We can completely let go before each other. This creates for our children and even for our co-workers a protected space. For marriage is not just a place of personal happiness. It should much rather become a place from which streams of living water flow out into this world.
We are grateful that we can look back on years in which the riches of our relationship has grown continually. We always consider it a miracle that God can bring two such different people into unity!
This is my path and our path with God in these questions. He has led me, and met me in His word and in the countless conversations with Marcel. And he has answered me. I want to encourage you to ask God and your husbands concrete questions and not just keep covering up feelings which are deeply buried. God will answer you, for it is promised, Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened (Matt.7:8).