The "S" Word

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I like baths more than showers.  Normally my bath time routine involves filling up the tub with the hottest water the spout will give me, soaking and reading for a while, then blow drying my hair.  Then I either watch something short on Netflix or listen to a podcast while I straighten my hair (if you haven't guessed, I have to work this in while the kids are napping!).  It's my "me-time", my favorite way to relax.

The other day after I finished drying my hair I decided to listen to a Focus On The Family podcast, and they opened the program with the question "What do you think of when you think of submission?"  Some women came on and talked about masters and servants, being a doormat, and one woman talked about Christ submitting to the Father, but she didn't like the way it applied to marriage as much.  I paused the podcast for a minute and thought through my own "definition" of submission, and this is what came to mind:

I think submission means being willing to take a step back and let your husband be the leader.

This is going to look differently and vary in difficulty depending on the situation, and I'm also not going to pretend that there aren't men that sometimes abuse this concept (which is probably why this is such a sticking point for so many Christian women).

There are a few things I think submission does not mean.  I don't think submission means that you never state your opinion.  Being a submissive wife doesn't mean you have to roll over and be a doormat.  It doesn't mean you do something morally wrong or questionable in an effort to be submissive.  It doesn't mean your husband controls your every move.  It definitely does not mean you remain in a dangerous or abusive situation in an effort to "submit".

As for what I do think submission means - I think when this aspect of marriage is done right, the wife and husband are both able to discuss and express their thoughts on a situation, and the husband will listen to what his wife has to say.  A man who loves his wife and who is wise will not dismiss his wife's thoughts or disregard her feelings on a matter.

For the wife, submission means being willing to let go - not always insisting on having things "her way".  It means actively letting her husband lead the family, even in those times when she disagrees, even sometimes when the husband may not be handling the situation in the best way.

Submission doesn't mean that marriage is not a partnership - both people's opinions do matter, and options should be discussed!  But no organization works well without a head.  If a business has two presidents and the presidents disagree on a big decision, things could get ugly pretty quickly. The business might split.  There has to be a head leader, the one who makes the final decision when not everyone is in agreement.  As Christian wives we are called to step back and let our husband be in that position.  He'll be the "president" of the family.  It doesn't mean the wife's thoughts and opinions don't matter, but the "business" of the family needs an official leader, someone who has the final say.  There can't be two "heads" if things are going to run smoothly.

This isn't easy!  I think it's a natural tendency for a lot of women to want to control things (especially our husbands).  The Bible even tells us that women will struggle with this.  We want that control, and that's why submission is so hard.

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(Derek and me, goofing off at our 5-year anniversary session!  This is Derek's brooding model look.  Actually I'm not sure what we were doing here, but I'm sure some joke was involved.   Derek is hilarious whenever we try to take pictures together.  It's a wonder we get any good ones.)

I can say all of this with my head as I sit here typing, but it's a lot harder in practicality.  I am a bit of a control freak myself.  I direct too much.  I demand my own way too much.  I get angry when Derek disagrees with me.  Even when I do the right thing and take the step back, I am definitely ready to jump right back in and remind him of what I said if it later becomes apparent that I was right.

I am not "good" at submission - I'm still working on it, but I want to improve because I want to obey God here.  I want to make Him proud of me.  When I let my husband lead, without any ulterior motives, without trying to manipulate or control things, without looking for my chance to show the superiority of my position later, I think God smiles down at me.

I think it's important to also recognize that submission doesn't just involve your relationship with your husband.  It involves your relationship with God.  He is the one who tells us that the man should be the leader of the family.

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For some reason the culture has us thinking that it is a sign of weakness to be the one to concede the point, the one to "give in" when there is a disagreement.  I would beg to differ.  I think it takes a pretty strong, secure woman to realize that God has organized the family this way for a reason.  When we allow our husbands to lead, we are ultimately not choosing to "obey" our husbands - we are choosing to trust and obey God.

That is not weak.  That is brave.  It is strong.  Even though it might be scary, and things might not always turn out like we want, God will reward us in the end for following His word when it comes to submission.  I don't know about you, but I want my reward, and the thought of that is what keeps me trying to do better. I think those treasures in Heaven will be worth not getting my way sometimes while I'm here.



For more good insights on submission, including the biblical basis and practical encouragement, I highly recommend this book (and I'm not being paid to say that)!  I grew up with the idea of submission, and I still got a lot of new thoughts out of it, so I think it would be helpful for women of any background who want to study this subject more deeply and get a biblical perspective on it.

For all you Christian ladies out there, is this an area in which you struggle?  What has helped you with the idea of submission?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Melanie said...

Great post Callie! I struggle with this as well..feeling like I need to have my way a lot. I guess it's a."woman" thing? Something I need to work on!

Veronica and Daniel said...

Putting submission into practice, at times, has been much harder than I thought it would be. Most of the time Daniel and I agree anyway, so it doesn't feel so much like submission ;) But the few times that we have not agreed on a decision, it was pretty hard for me to step aside and let him lead our family (after much prayer and conversation of course). This was a great reminder - I will have to see if my library has that book! Um, AND I LOVE your long hair in these pictures :)

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