Ahhh…the loaded ‘s’ word.
***I’m gonna share a few thoughts on submission but it is nowhere near a comprehensive view on the issue. This is a blog for crying out loud, read a book (or the bible!) if you want more depth and breadth. Also, we don’t live in a perfect world, and some may disagree with me on this for reasons I’ll never get, but in instances of injustice, oppression, abuse and sin I say don’t submit, run***
Okay, so I’m a passive, quiet, middle child, not even a smidgen of Type A in me and like most people I avoid confrontation and enjoy politeness. I might even give the outward appearance that submission is easy, or natural, for me, yet inwardly I find myself being extremely opinionated about things and also easily offended.
And for good reason.
Because you may not know this about me, but I have really good ideas and I am smart and gifted and generally awesome. You should ask for (and then heed, of course) my advice on how things should be done (and by “things” I mean ministries, meetings, marriages, families, work scenarios, decision making and life in general).
That’s me. Sweet on the outside, obnoxious on the inside.
I think Jesus had a word or two for people like me…
But what is my choice, what is our choice, in these churches and communities and relationships and countries with so much disagreement, so much drama, so much controversy?
What is our choice when there is so much passion involved?
What am I supposed to do when I have a different scriptural interpretation?
What am I supposed to do when I am not the one in charge?
What am I supposed to do when I would rather do something different?
What am I supposed to do when I feel so strongly?
What am I supposed to do when I really, really, really want my own way?
That’s the answer to all my questions.
As far as marriage is concerned, I don’t have anything very exciting or sexy to say, at least from a personal narrative. No feminist rant here, as promised. Actually, submission in my marriage isn’t something I usually struggle with (or actually think about very often…oops?).
I respect Jon, he respects me. I sacrifice for him, he sacrifices for me. We trust one another’s discernment and support one another’s goals and ideas.
Jon is not domineering, he’s not a jerk, he values me, and he is really smart, so it is easy for me to get behind him when he says he wants to try a new parenting strategy or get carpet instead of laminate or move us to the middle of the desert to minister to college students, or not skip church just because I am a raging introvert...
But man oh man, when Jon was my team leader in InterVarsity, it was a different story. For some reason I hated when he would tell me how to plan the leaders meetings I ran.
These are MY meetings, dear.
But, he was kinda like my boss (okay fine, he was totally my boss), I didn’t have a choice, but I didn’t make it easy on him.
Speaking of Jon, I am having a hard time writing this. So I just looked up from my computer and asked him, who is sitting across the couch from me, what he initially thinks of when he hears the word “submit”.
“I think of a horse, that needs to be tamed and obedient”
OH I SEE, SO YOU THINK I AM JUST SOME DUMB HORSE THAT BETTER DO WHATEVER YOU SAY, HUH YOU MACHO PIG???
Just kidding, I didn’t say that. I’m a good wife, remember?
He was referencing Psalm 32, specifically how he tries to be submissive to God.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Jon desires to be like this horse, quick to listen, quick to yield his own way to God’s way not needing ‘bit and bridle’, but knowing God so well – his law, his grace, his will, his word, his Spirit – that it is natural and best and easy to follow and obey the Master.
See I told you, it’s easy to be married to and submit to a guy who loves God like this. I won the husband lottery, ladies.
When I asked myself the same question I initially thought of my friends’ wedding I recently attended where the first act they did as a married couple was to wash each others feet. Him in a suit and tie, her in a wedding gown, kneeling down to wash the Flagstaff dirt off of each other. Nobody wants to wash stinky feet, especially not in formal attire, but they did. Beautiful.
Submission is service, submission is obedience, submission is sacrifice, submission is respect, submission is waiting, submission is giving, submission is love.
Submission is success, at least that is how God is helping me to re-frame my messed up view of success.
I wish I could say, so badly, that being successful was just preaching a great message, or leading a fantastic meeting, or running a growing ministry, or being the smartest in the room or making Jon see it my way.
I wish I could say that being successful was merely appearing compliant and nice and polite.
But that is an incomplete, and faulty image of success for followers of Jesus.
Because if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Jesus save me from my obnoxious self. Save me from being a noisy gong.
Because these three things remain, Faith Hope and Love.
And because the greatest of these is Love.
Submission is a posture of the heart.
It is more important that I love, than get my own way.
It is more important that I love, than have the last word.
It is more important that I love, than be in charge.
When I am subject to my brothers and sisters, whether they are the one up front, or the one right next to me or the one stumbling behind, I am loving them and allowing them to love me.
When I yield my own desires and my own opinion and my own will – no matter how much passion and conviction behind them- to those of someone else; God is glorified and Jesus is made known; among His Bride and among The Lost.
Submission is the hardest thing I have to do every day, because it requires me to keep my mouth shut and be the listener instead of the talker, the student instead of the teacher, the servant instead of the master, the follower instead of the leader.
It requires me to be the one who loves, instead of the one who doesn’t.
And the greatest of these is love.