Last week a lot of folks were in a frenzy about the number of times–four–that the word “helpmate” was used in Michelle Obama’s cover story in the March 9 issue of People. I love when folks create a dustup out of things they don’t understand. Some are bristling because they think that calling her a helpmate doesn’t give her equal footing. But I’d like to help clear things up and show people that being called a helpmate is nothing bad at all. In fact, it’s an honor.
The word helpmate originates in Genesis 2:18, “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'” Comparable to him is what the Lord said, not to be confused with someone who is put forth to serve him that isn’t on his level. Michelle is comparable to Barack. Ivy League educated like Barack. Strong like Barack. Funny like Barack. Spiritual like Barack. I think about what a heaven-sent relationship they have because not only does it take a strong woman to stand beside–not behind–a man like that, it also takes someone pretty special to humble herself in the midst of having rather awesome gifts herself.
Michelle’s strongest position in Barack’s life is going to be as his helpmate, which encompasses her being a wife, a mother, and a partner.
I don’t call myself a feminist, but I am a confident, independent woman. Still, I have long prayed to be a helpmate and to receive a helpmate when God is ready for me to have one. I embrace the idea. I don’t discount the phrase “husband,” but I like the spirit of action and mutual support implicit in “helpmate.”
Michelle is Barack’s wife, but as a helpmate she has helped shape him into the man we see today–not discounting his mother and grandmother. Without Michelle’s confidence in him, helping him as she campaigned across the country with him and going off on her own to speak to constituents, we might not even have him as the president. Part of what has made Barack so appealing is that he doesn’t have just any woman as a wife, but this obviously strong, intelligent, beautiful woman who is on his side, ride or die. Michelle has shown women what strength looks like, what humility looks like, what love looks like, and most importantly what a modern-day helpmate looks like.
Women, don’t for a second be discouraged because you think she is playing second fiddle to him instead of continuing her successful career in law, because she isn’t. I believe God has big plans for Michelle Obama, too. Trust, in 2018, People will be calling Barack Michelle’s helpmate, and I’ll be back saying the same thing all over again for the people who think being a helpmate is all subservience and inequality. Being a helpmate is to be esteemed of all things. Anyone can put a ring on it, or wear one, but it takes an extraordinary person to be a wife and helpmate.