Five years ago, a guest stood up at a wedding to share words of wisdom and present some gifts to the newlyweds.
A few minutes into his speech, the bride took a step forward.
“Where are you going?” my husband asked with a smile.
“To receive the gifts” I answered mid-stride.
“Lets wait.” He tagged gently on my hand. “He has has not called us forward yet”
The guests did not see the twitch on my face.
Or the heart dropping to my chest. But my husband may have noticed the flick of chin and the stiffened back.
Years later, I’d look back at that small encounter and recognize it as my first opportunity to obey my husband.
It was also the first (and not last) time I’d follow on the outside while throwing up a storm on the inside.
What Submission is Not
A lot has been said when it comes to allowing our husbands to take the lead.
But some of my biggest lessons have been on what submission is not.
1. Submission is not gritting my teeth and “making myself” follow
While I like leading and having my way, I also know what God says about the role of a husband and wife in marriage: one leads, the other follows and partners.
So the easy compromise for me was to “make myself” submit on the outside. While world war III raged on the inside.
But God began to show me that submission was a heart issue
It’s not a mouth or action issue. Doing or saying the right thing is not nearly as important as being the right way. (You can click to Tweet that) God is always after the condition of our hearts.
Sure, submission is not always without struggle.
But we must work through the struggle, take it to God, lean into our pain and grow. We must be working to line up hearts with our actions and words.
2. Submission will not feel natural
I believe God wires us up for our destinies – He gives a passion and disposition to match our role and calling in life.
When it came to submission, I expected a complete personality make over. I thought He’d change me from strong, argumentative and willful to sweet, nice and mild.
After a long struggle and wait, I realized God wasn’t going to give me a personality transplant. Instead, He had a heart transformation lined up.
Sometimes we wait for obedience to feel natural, to slide into our lives like a hand into a glove. But our flesh is in rebellion towards the things of God. We have wounds and baggage.
Bowing our knee does not happen automatically.
Wives who want to submit need to understand that submission is not an automatic switch. It’s something you learn intentionally. You don’t change in a day, you grow every day.
3. Submission is not about a woman’s value.
Sometimes we think “whoever leads the pack owns the pack”. Personally, I thought being a follower meant I was deficient, weak and helpless (gasp).
It took a while to understand that the roles of love and submission (Ephesians 5: 21 – 33) have nothing to do with the value of the person. Rather they are about function.
Like any institution, God assigned different roles and responsibilities to the man and woman in order to successfully carry out His mission on earth. Both man and woman are valued, accepted and loved equally.
But assigned differently.
4. Submission doesn’t mean I have to trust my husband first
It’s about trusting God first.
Wives who want their husbands to prove they are worthy submitting to will never get around to submitting.
Husbands are normal human beings who make mistakes, fail and generally do things that scream “Not worthy of trust!” The same way we wives do things that scream “Not worthy of love!”
Now wives are not mandated to obey “unto sin” or danger. If a husband is asking a wife to sin, she’s not obligated to obey.
The premise here is that she must release herself to God first, find security in Him, learn to trust Him.
5. Submission is not for wimps
Submission doesn’t mean a lack of intelligence or will. Personally I swung from one extreme to the other – from heel clicking defiance to a wimpy false sense of meekness.
But submission doesn’t mean a wife shies away from her responsibility as a helper.
Strong marriages are made of two spouses who pull together in the same direction. A wife’s thoughts, opinions and contributions are powerful and are needed in her marriage.
6. Submission won’t always be demanded of me
I grew up with a tough dad. But I am married to a sweet easy man.
I find that when something is not demanded of me or spelled out in black and white, it’s easy to excuse myself out of that responsibility.
Most husbands don’t walk around waving “I am the head honcho” placards, demanding acquiesce.
If a wife keeps waiting for her husband to spell it out for her, she might never start submitting, never start giving him room to lead. A wife needs to keep her heart in order and not expect her husband to put it in order for her.
It’s important for wives who have gentler husbands to understand that just because they can get away with something doesn’t mean it’s right or it won’t hurt their husband or their marriage
Question – What thoughts can you add? How have the roles of love and submission, as written in Ephesians 5: 21 – 33, strengthened your marriage?
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