If you’ve been in Christian circles long enough, you know there’s a word that is certain to stir up mixed feelings, wild emotions, opposing points of views, and general frustration. There are some who try to live by the intent of the word, and there are others who immediately put up a wall when you mention the word. I want to look at that word, but maybe from a different level. But give me a fair chance, please – don’t just close the post when you read the word, okay?
Even though I know how divisive this word is, I want to share about it from my own perspective. You’re welcome to agree, disagree, comment with your feelings, but I’d like you to hear what I have to say.
I approach this word with a good deal of hesitation. If you were to look at my life, if you knew my full story, you would have every right to say, “Why do you even want to consider submitting to your husband?”
So here’s the honest truth: On any given day, I don’t want to consider submitting to my husband.
Given all that has happened in my life, I’d like to just continue going through our mess, simply trying to get to the other side. But God keeps placing this word – one that divides even within the church – onto my heart.
Perhaps you’ve seen a picture like this before:
The point of this image is that a husband and wife draw closer to one another as they draw closer to God.
What has happened in my marriage is that we’ve struggled with selfishness, with our own desires. This has done the exact opposite of drawing us closer to each other. It’s pulled us away from each other and away from God.
Over the past couple of years, as we’ve intentionally tried to get our relationship and marriage right with each other and the Lord, we’re starting to look a little more like this triangle.
My husband has worked hard to correct issues in his past and is working hard to be the leader in our home.
Which brings me back to needing to look at the word submission.
How do you submit to another person, particularly your husband, especially when things have gone badly?
Here’s what I’ve learned, very simply:
If I want to do what God’s calling me to do, I need to remember that the situations I find myself in are an opportunity to honor Him.
When my husband and I are having a discussion and God whispers, “You need to submit,” it’s often God’s gentle way of trying to draw my own heart closer to His (God’s) heart.
God is trying to get me in line, and at the same time, He’s working in my husband’s heart to continue to learn to lead our family.
I don’t view submission as my husband ruling over me, lording his power over our marriage. My husband doesn’t treat his role as the leader in that manner either.
Rather, we both view the concept of submission as getting our hearts in line with the Lord, and letting Him gently lead us and grow our relationship as He desires.
For me, the concept of submission – even when I really don’t want to – means that I’m choosing to honor God first and foremost, by following His instruction to follow my husband.
So how do I get my heart to want to submit, especially when my husband has not always been the best leader and has let me down in some pretty big ways?
1. Get Alone With God.
I say “get alone” because time alone with God in this kind of situation almost always requires an intentional choice on my part. Often these opportunities to submit don’t come at the most convenient times. They often arise at chaotic times when I have a lot going on, so I need to intentionally choose to get alone with God.
These are times when I share my heart with the Lord. I tell Him my feelings, the situation from my perspective, and then I try to listen. The Lord loves to hear from us, but He loves when we listen as well.
Struggling? Make time to get alone with the Lord, talk to Him and listen to what He says.
2. Open God’s Word.
No, I’m not going to suggest you read the passages on wives submitting to their husbands. Not at all.
Instead, I’d rather encourage you to go to your favorite passages, your “go-to” verses for when you need reminders of God’s faithfulness. You see, God’s giving us another opportunity to trust Him, and if you’re at all like me, you need the reminder that He is faithful – no matter what – more than you need the reminder to submit to your husband.
Not sure where to start? Here are a couple of my favorites:
Jude 24,25, Psalm 91
3. Remember That No One Is Perfect.
Oh yes – this one. There are times when my husband will suggest something, or let me know what we’re going to do.
A recent example:
Our fridge started making some noise. He started at step one – identify the problem – and worked up to calling the company and scheduling a technician to come out to check the fridge. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way my husband plans, and I hesitate to go with his plans.
But – how am I going to see God’s faithfulness (step #2) if I keep getting in the way? If I’m going to ask God to remind me of His faithfulness, then I need to let God work, right? I need to get myself and my ideas, my preconceived notions of how things will go, out of the way.
How bad would it be if my husband was wrong about how he handled the situation? Am I willing to give up my own “need to be right” to let my husband lead?
He’s not perfect, he may in fact be wrong. But I’m not perfect either. In fact, I’m often wrong.
It’s important for me to keep in mind that while God is working in my heart, He’s also working in my husband’s heart. When I am wrong, my husband is so gracious and gentle, and I need to treat him with the same respect that he freely gives to me.
I think we often get hung up on submission as us being less than, not as important as, our husband. Friends, nothing is farther from the truth. God hasn’t asked us to submit because our husbands are better than us, or more important than us.
I believe He asks us, as the brides, to submit to our husbands so that our heart can grow to learn to submit to Christ – the bridegroom of the church.
I would love to hear your thoughts and encouragement on this topic. Feel free to comment here at Jen’s blog, or hop over to my blog and leave your thoughts as well.
Rebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage.
Karen M. Roth says
I am believing that you are 100% correct on this definition of Submission. Something I have struggled with for the past 12 years since my husband will not lead. But I am knowing that he came into our marriage with baggage just the same as I have the only difference is that I am choosing to work on my issues since I am tired of being stuck in the same rut. While he refuses to get the help he needs. Plus, my Chronic Pain and Illnesses nor my Shopping Addiction have helped to strengthen things. His mind is a constant state of chaos. So I am learning to pray first thing just say one thing to him and then give him time to actually think about what I have said to him and this helping alot in some areas. But I do know that the good work God has started in each of us He will complete. In the process I am learning that sometimes you have to learn to appreciate the thorns for they are what truly help you to grow and mature.
Yes, the Lord is faithful to keep working on us! (Phil. 1:6) Karen, I really appreciate that you acknowledge your own contributions to your marriage issues instead of blaming it all on your husband. I had to come to the place where I realized I was part of the problem, too, and prayer has been key in changing our marriage. I want to give you hope that things can still improve. Don’t fall for the lies of the enemy that you are stuck or that things won’t change. God’s not done with your marriage yet!
Mommy Muddling says
This is a topic that is difficult for everyone to grasp…men and women alike. For me to personally understand what it means to submit to my husband I am always reminded of the word respect. When we trust our husbands to lead the way…we are submitting but we are also showing him respect. When our husbands feel respected then they feel that much more inclined to cherish us. It goes both ways. Men are called to a much bigger challenge than submission…they are called to love us as Christ loved the church! To be willing to die for us! To treasure and cherish us…to provide for us. To fight for us. It’s cyclical but his job is harder and carries much more weight. When I think of it like that…well, my issues with submission (I have them, too) fall to the wayside. There is so much to learn about Jesus’ love for us by following His ways!
When faced with a marriage where our husbands are not following Christ’s instruction and calling on them, it can be SO hard, but it’s no doubt about it the truth that when our husbands feel respected they will respond positively in so many ways!
I’m blessed to be married to a man that is so in love with Jesus that he tries very hard to follow his calling…but I have been in a previous marriage where that was not the case. I failed, too, by not understanding the gift God has for us if we submit. The gift is for both husband and wife! We aren’t getting short-changed. Loved this post so much! Thanks for the space to ramble. 🙂
“The gift is for both husband and wife!” I love that! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us.
Alethea Awuku says
Thank you for this insightful, detailed and well explained post!
I thoroughly enjoyed it! x