The flowers were in place. The candles were lit. The bridesmaids were beautifully adorned in their navy dresses with their hair all in up-dos and ready to precede me. I, in white dress and white face, anxiously awaited the moment I would walk down the aisle.
During the ceremony, our overzealous young preacher friend (who had preceded us in marriage by a whole 6 months) stepped up to offer his prayer. As he prayed, and prayed, and prayed for us, he used his extensive marriage experience to pray for… my ability to submit to my husband.
As any good Southern Baptist girl would do, I bowed my head and heartily agreed. I was ready to submit to my husband. After all, I thought I knew what that meant and, theoretically, knew that it was a vital part of a Godly marriage. Besides, marriage was going to be like a constant sleepover with my best friend.
Fast forward two weeks: me barging into my mentor’s house in the middle of dinner, crying and covered in splashed gumbo, wanting to know why suddenly I was expected to drop everything to bow to the wishes of another person.
It didn’t matter that those wishes were valid—I needed to finish the gumbo.
Life was not only about ME anymore. I didn’t know how to deal with this, and my inability to submit (among other things) would go on to make our first year of marriage much more challenging than it should have been.
And maybe the 2nd and 3rd. And 4th. And still.
Hands down one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned in life is to submit to the wishes of another. Not in everything; I am not the kind of wife who thinks my husband should have the final say in everything from the type of milk we buy to who controls the remote. But in the big decisions—like the way we raise our children and how we handle our finances—it’s not just about me.
In the last year I’ve learned something new about myself and submission. Apparently, I was only okay with submitting when I agreed with the decision.
We have homeschooled our 8- and 9-year-old from their preschool days. We talked about one day putting our kids in public school, but surely that was some point in the distant future. Until this year when God decided to throw a little stone in the smooth pond: a baby.
Surprise! Sweet baby Walt came into the world and turned everything upside down.
In my mind I was superwoman and could surely raise this baby while keeping up with schoolwork. My husband had other ideas. He started bringing up public school. I disagreed. He did not back down.
He researched and found the best school. I cried and disagreed. He met with the principal and toured the school. I cried and refused to go. He took them to the doctor to make sure they were up to date on their shots. I cried and held onto my position. I begged God to show me if this was the right decision—surely if God would just tell me then I would have peace about it.
I assumed that if I did not feel peace about it and eventually said, “I do not want to do this,” that my husband would cave and agree that maybe it should wait another year.
The time came closer and closer, and I realized a decision had to be made. There was still no peace in my heart, but my husband was sure. I had no clear direction either way, so for the first time in our 15 years of marriage we had a big issue on which we did not agree, and my only recourse was to…
I sent my husband a text (as all important marriage information should be relayed) saying, “I do not want to do this, but if this is something that you truly feel our family should do, then I will stop fighting you about it.” He enrolled them in school. Suddenly I was at peace with it. Ah, God was teaching me a lesson. All those prayers about giving me direction one way or another, He was answering them—through my husband.
This led me to an “ah-ha” moment about myself, the number one reason submission was hard in my life (and I believe in others’ as well).
I am selfish. Horribly selfish.
We were born with a fleshly nature. Our flesh wants what we want. But when we are born of the Spirit, we are given a new heart and new desires. But this is also when the war begins. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep us from the freedom those new desires will bring. And it does bring freedom.
Of course, this is only a small part of what submission is about. The world tends to focus on the wife’s part of submission and how strange it is, but the Bible focuses on submission for us all. Christ is submitted to God, the husband is submitted to Christ, the wife is submitted to the husband, the children are submitted to their parents—it goes on and on.
It’s really beautiful and freeing if you just sit with it for a minute. I do not have to be ultimately in control of my life. The stress and anxiety about big decisions is now not only on me, and I’m so thankful for the freedom that brings.
I’m sure I will be taught many more lessons through the years, but for now I am learning through this one and thankful for the freedom and peace it has brought.