Thursday, March 10, 2011

Preparing to be a Help Meet

Preparing to be a Help Meet, by Debi Pearl, is a sequal of sorts to her older, more widely known book Created to be a Help Meet. The original book was written as an encouragement to married women. It was hard hitting, and extremely good. My mother intruced me to the book when I was about 16, and by the time I got married late last year I'd fallen into the habit of re-reading it yearly. If I had to list off the top five books that directly impacted the way I relate to my husband and vew my role in marriage Created to Be His Help Meet would be one of them.

Preparing to be a Help Meet came out last year, the same month I was engaged. It was written because many of the women who read Created to be His Help Meet wanted a similar book for their daughters.
Like her first book, Preparing to be A Help Meet is direct, forthright, and sometimes runs contrary to commonly accepted Christian Conservatism. I think this is a good thing. Most people will not walk away from any of Debi Pearl's books agreeing 100%, but they will walk away having assumptions challenged and having grown as a result.

Here are some things I liked about Preparing to be a Help Meet, and a few cautions.

1. Throughout the book there are comments from men. These are in bracketed boxes, and most are distinguished with symbols depending on whether the man is a Prophet, priest, or kingly type (which is explained in the book, and is also covered in greater detail in Created to be His Help Meet). These comments were written after the text of the book, and often provide a balancing perspective (by which I mean, the men don't always have the same opinions asMrs. Pearl). This is VERY helpful!!!

2. She includes many "courtship stories." This was excellent. Each of the stories is a start of the chapter, and each of them is different. Some of them are VERY different (I've NEVER heard a story like Mrs. Pearl's!!). It is extremely benificial for young women to really grasp the idea that every love story is different. Sometimes there are similarities--but sometimes there just aren't. I remember during my courtship there was a fair amount of tension because our love story was different than other love stories that our families had closely observed. There was fear that because our story wasn't "by the book" (the book of expectations) that it wasn't "by the Book" (as in, the Bible and God's will). Young women need to know not to put God in a box by expecting every love story to be identical. Their story may be completely different than they were expecting, but as long as they follow hard after God that's okay!! God is MUCH too good at writing  love stories to write identical ones!

3. At the close of each chapter there is a page or two for guided reflection. The study guide is very helpful in driving home the points of each chapter.

4. Debi Pearl relies heavily on scripture. Preparing to be a Help Meet consists of Scripture, stories to illustrate, and conclusions--in that order.

5. I really like the "Prophet, Priest, and King" descriptions that Mrs. Pearl gives for each type of men (In Created these types are called Mr. Visionary, Mr. Steady and Mr Command Man). While each individual man will be a different combination of one or two of these, I can look at each of the men in my life and see which part of God's nature he tends  to reflect. My husband, for example, is Mr. Command Man (king). My Dad is Mr. Visionary (prophet). My oldest brother is a Mr. Steady (priest). The types aren't intended to "put men in boxes" but they do help us ladies a lot in knowing what type of responses the men in our lives need!!

6. Chapter 7, the entire chapter but particularly the end, is worth the purchase price of the whole book. Chapter 11 is more negative (negative in a good way) but contains extremely valuable advice on  the potentially devistating effects of modern technology (texting, chatting, facebook, and the internet in general) on relationships.

7. Despite the fact that this is a book about preparing to be a help meet, Mrs. Pearl never gets into the "courtship vs. Dating" debate. As this is a hot-topic in the conservative Christian world I know not everyone will agree with her decision, but I think it was a wise one. I think a lot of times Christians can get overly focused on debating which method is best, or which rules should be kept, instead of focusing on making the main thing the main thing. Mrs. Pearl does a good job of focusing on keeping Christ in the center.

8. As I mentioned earlier in the report, this book didn't come out until the month I got my engagement ring. As such it didn't have a particularly big impact on my "preparaing" to be a help meet. What it DID have an impact on was my wedding, and the chapter that most impacted my wedding was chapter 13. Before reading this book I'd never heard anyone else vocalize the concept that when a bride is preparing for a wedding the wedding night should be part of the preparation plans. In other words, a bride should plan in a way that she won't end up being an exausted, stressed, basket case as soon as the wedding adrenalin wears off. As Mrs. Pearl says, it takes a LOT of emotional and physical energy to be a wife the first few weeks of marriage, and it is foolish for a young bride to expend all her emotional/physical reserves on a "dream" wedding and not take into those demands into account. "Taking into account" means not being out till midnight the wedding day and having to drive two more hours to get to the honeymoon suite. "Taking into account" means being so tied up in wedding details that you don't sleep the week before the wedding. "Taking into account" means long hours of rest (physically), mental preparation, and prayer (spiritually) the week of the wedding.

9. As always read with parental guidance. There is nothing in this book that I would hesitate to have my daughter read when she is an appropriate age (somewhere in the early to mid teens, depending on the young lady), but each family is different. There are some things, for example, in chapter 7 that Mrs. Pearl recommends young ladies research that some parents might not be comfortable with (chapter 7 is about a young lady continuing to learn and prepare, some things are necessary some things aren't, each family will be different. The purpose of her list is to provoke thought, not provide a complete curriculum. So, of course, parental guidance is a good thing).

End analysis? This is a GREAT book, and one I can recommend to just about any young lady. In fact, someday I'd like to do a study through it with some of the young ladies at my church. We'd ALL learn from it, even those of us who are already help meets!!

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