Today’s guest blogger is Anne Dryburgh. Anne is a missionary in Flemish speaking Belgium since 1991 doing evangelism and biblical counseling. Her ministry is unique and I know she would appreciate prayer as she ministers to those around her. These posts will give you an idea of what she faces in her ministry, and how important biblical counseling is to the people she serves. 


Mary
came to me heartbroken. Her husband had called her ugly, fat and unwanted. According
to him, she is a stubborn, selfish, and useless wife. In his opinion, it would
have been better if she had never been born.

Sadly,
I hear many women repeat such things. Their husbands, parents, or friends have
told them such hurtful things about who they are and they have come away
wondering what is wrong with them. They know that we all have a lot wrong with
us because of the Fall (Genesis 3), but they wonder what makes them worse than
everybody else. If they believe what others say about them, they live in
depression and despondency.
Who
are these women? The Bible teaches us that in the first place, they are made in
the image of God. We read in Genesis 1:26-28 that God created male and female
in his image. In this passage, we learn that the man and the woman both reflect
the image of God.

Later,
in Genesis 2, we read about the creation of the woman in more detail. In verse
18 God says that he will make a helper for the man. He did so by creating the
woman from the man (2:21-25). Volumes have been written about what is means for
men and women to be created in the image of God and what their roles should be.
Without going into the details of the debate, it is clear that calling her the
man’s helper does not mean that she is inferior to the man. She is a helper
corresponding to him. Together they share the image of God. That she is not
inferior to the man is seen by Adam’s recognition of their similarities. When
he saw Eve for the first time, he cried out in verse 23 “This is at last bone
of my bones and flesh of my flesh…”
In
the New Testament, Ephesians 1 teaches us about the riches and blessings that believers have
because they are in Christ. Christ is the exact imprint of the nature of God
and the radiance of his glory (Hebrews 1:3). Believers who are in Christ
reflect the image of God.  Romans 6
teaches us that because we are united in the death and life of Christ, we have
been set free from sin and are called to life and righteousness in Christ.
What
does this mean for Mary? Yes, Mary is a terrible sinner, but this is not how
she is to live. First, she is created in the image of God to reflect his glory.
Second, this means she is her husband’s helper to reflect the image of God. And
third, she is in Christ and called to live a life of righteousness.

Knowing
this will mean that Mary will seek to live righteously. She will fill her
thoughts with truth about herself and others. Instead of accepting the insults
of others, she will think about herself and others according to Christ. This
will enable her to be a true helper to her husband by relating to him in a way
that the Lord wants, even if this is not the way that her husband wants or
expects. By this she will seek to love her husband and do good to him according
to what the Bible teaches. Living in Christ will give her life and hope, the
opposite of the depression and despondency she first experienced.

Mary prayed to the Lord and verbally committed her life to him. She prayed that she would be the person the Lord wants to be, including the wife that the Lord wants her to be to her husband. To help her live accordingly, Mary started keeping a journal of when she was hurt. Each entry would record what the circumstances were that led to hurt being hurt, what was said and done by her husband, and how she responded verbally, behaviorally, and cognitively.
It did not take long for her to realize that he said these things when they were in a disagreement about something. She began to see that when he belittled and insulted her, she would focus her attention on trying to defend herself against those accusations, instead of the issue that was being discussed. Then she noticed that she would spend a good part of the rest of the day mulling over what he said, trying to figure out whether or not what he said was true, and thinking that he was mean. She would go on to think such things as “How could he be so mean?” “Who does he think he is?” “As if he is so good-looking” and “He should be glad that he has a wife like me.”
Seeing how the situations developed, Mary was able to live differently at home. She decided that when there was a topic being discussed, she would stick with the issue and not be diverted onto other things. As well as this, she made up a think list of what she was going to focus her attention on when he tried to insult her. She wrote “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8) and “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3) on cards and carried them with her everywhere she went. This helped her to stay focused on the Lord and what he wants from her, instead of trying to second-guess how her husband would behave.
Then the discussion came. He noticed that there was a charge on the credit card for gas. When he read it he exploded. “There you go again, throwing away all my money. Did you ask my permission to buy gas? I can’t trust you. If I did not control the finances, we would be bankrupt. You are so stupid. I’m surprised you even finished high school.”

Mary’s first reaction was to be hurt that he called her stupid. She started thinking up reasons to say to him why she is not stupid, but then remembered that this would only lead to more fighting. This time, she calmly said to him “Could you please tell me how much was charged and when?” Angrily, he read it to her, trying to throw the bill at her face. When she read it, she asked him “That is from the time we went to the grocery store together.” Her husband looked at the bill again, checked his agenda, and realized she was right.
Mary could not believe that this incident had not resulted in a full-blown argument with her being very upset. She realized that it did not become an argument because her spirit was right before the Lord, she spoke in a loving and respectful way to her husband, and stuck to the facts.
Although she was surprised at how much better things went, she had to keep praying to the Lord and reading her cards because she still was tempted to think angry thoughts about him. Mary was happy to see that she was beginning to live differently, but knew that she would have to keep working on her inner reaction as well. 

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