Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Aversion to Being the "helper"

After reviewing the two accounts of Creation in Genesis in Chapter 5 of our Endow study, we know that God created humanity (male and female) in His image and likeness.  We are called to embody His authority, which rules in, by, and for love, here on earth.  According to an Encyclopedia of Theology, true authority is "always in the service of others and their freedom."

Men and women are called to live their complementary differences out through self-giving love.  This seems easy enough to accept, but, as women, we may still find ourselves bristling when we read, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis 1:26)  Generally, no one wants to be a helper unless you're working for Santa.  The word has a negative connotation.  When we think "helper", we think of someone with less to offer and consequently, less value.  No one rushes in to be unappreciated, unseen, and undervalued!  Most of the time, we want to avoid being the "helper" at all costs.

However, we looked a little deeper into that powerful little word today and found that it is the English translation of the Hebrew word ezer.  Of the 19 times the word is used in the Old Testament, 15 refer to Divine aid.  "So, for the woman to be called a helper to man is not at all pejorative or degrading since this description is also used at other times to describe God Himself." (Endow study guide)  According to Pope John Paul II, "It should not be interepreted as meaning that the woman is man's servant - "helper" is not the equivalent of "servant"; the psalmist says to God:  "You are my help"; rather the whole statement means that woman is able to collaborate with man because she complements him perfectly..." 

In a discussion question from the previous chapter, we were encouraged to think of the progress that could be made in respect for women if men were seen always as partners, not adversaries...

If we could use all of the energy we are using (and have used) to avoid being the "helper" into helping (doing for another without self-seeking), our marriages, our families, and our society would be unrecognizable as we know them.  The power struggles would disappear and true authority (in the service of others and their freedom) would re-emerge. 

Perhaps you think it sounds like a tall order, and how it would be much easier just to let things remain as they are. But, if it is as simple as embracing a new concept of what it means to be a "helper", from servant to perfectly complementary collaborator, I'm willing to give it a shot.  There is never a loss of dignity in serving another in love. 

For most of us, there will not be a huge visible transformation.  We will continue to pick up dirty socks, make dinner, do the laundry, and all of the other things that we do.  However, if we have been doing it as though something assigned or imposed, instead of something freely chosen, our heart will know all the difference.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this gorgeous afternoon.  Thank you for all of the ways You lead us to Yourself.  Thank you for creating us male and female.  Thank you for the gift of marriage and the presence of another who continually sharpens, encourages, and loves us.  Please give us the grace to love our spouse the way they need to be loved, and perhaps respected above all.  Help us to understand and embrace the eternal truths you imparted to us upon Creation.  You put us here for each other.  Please give us a glimpse of what that should look like, so we may know what direction to turn in every moment that includes another.  I trust in You.  Amen. 

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