Submission: Yielding my will to another. I’m to be submissive to God AND my husband.
The struggle of wifely submission for a Strong-Willed woman is very real.
My journey towards an authentically Biblical marriage started nearly 4 years ago, just as we were approaching our 20th anniversary in 2012. “Our Story” describes what kind of marriage I had before that.
Year one in
our my transformation was interesting. It was a time of lots of communication, rebuilding trust, failures, frustration, disbelief, and even skepticism on my husband’s part each time I reminded him that I wanted to submit to a dominant husband, a head of household (I’d spent 2 decades showing him nothing of the sort, I couldn’t blame his lack of faith).
As detailed in “Our Story,” our marriage had experienced challenges for many years, and that via a variety of interesting ways, God revealed to me some things about myself that I needed to work through. I had finally confessed to SJ that I wanted to “try” this “submission thing” and asked for his help. Nothing like waiting 20 years. Thank God my husband hung in there. Of course, his initial reaction was disbelief and bemusement. Then there was concern because “submissive” was never a word that could be uttered in the same sentence with my name. There of course were a few other issues we needed to straighten out, but there was always a side to me that struggled mightily with submission of any kind. I
had been am a control freak. SJ could see a conflict in my sudden “wish” to submit, and wisely trod very, very gingerly down the path upon which I was asking begging him to move with warp-speed.
I am a take-charge type of person. The control-freak in me is borne of the desire to see things done efficiently, effectively, with organization and purpose. I can always see a “better way” (or, as we control freaks think, “THE right way”). Sometimes the traits of a “Take-Charge” person are needed and beneficial, they are the traits of leadership. However MY control freak had yanked my husband out of the leadership/protecting role that God gave him, caused me to be less than collaborative, and I was convicted we had to restore that. I’ve “struggled” with control issues my whole adult life, and I know that a lot of this has its foundation in my childhood–I left home having a need to “prove to the world” that I was worthy and lovable and smart; and I also had trust issues. The way I found to deal with this was to be in control and not allow others to control me. To be a career woman “in charge” of my life. To decide (as a single) to carry on romances because I was sexy and desirable and thought I had that “control” over men (in my warped view of control–what I effectively was doing was handing control over on a silver platter, along with my poor, sinful, wretched heart).
There have been many “circumstances” in my life over these past years where God has called me to do things, things my flesh was not willing to do, to teach me about submission and accepting the control being out of my hands. Mission work is one of those things. I think MOST of all, God wanted to show me how to submit while still using the skills and talents he had given me, and the heart I have for helping others. It was nonetheless still very confusing for me.
As I struggled to put my submissive side into practice, my husband asked me to listen to a (Focus on the Family) broadcast he’d heard. In his normal low-key style, he just asked. He didn’t demand, coax or nag. It took me a couple weeks to get around to it…
Listening to this Focus on the Family broadcast (based on Dr. Debbie Cherry’s book, The Strong Willed Wife— the link to this broadcast now requires you purchase the podcast) was such a blessing, and really convicted me that God made me the way I am and doesn’t want me to abandon the positives of the traits He’s given me, but wants to help me direct my traits humbly and helpfully, and in a way that brings honor to our marriage and my husband– and to God. It reminded me I needed to conquer the “demons” of control (the instinct to “jump in and fix it,” to marginalize my husband, to refuse to trust him), but remain a strong-willed woman submitted to God and my husband, willing to be his helper, to partner with him to improve our lot in life and live out the Great Commission (GO and make disciples of all nations), not only in words, but deeds. The Proverbs 31 wife was a go-getter, no shrinking violet, AND she was a blessing to her husband and children. That is my goal.
I think there is a large sisterhood of women out there who need this message of what true submission means for a strong-willed wife. It has really opened my eyes.
Wifely Submission for the Strong-Willed Woman. (take the quiz here)
SJ wanted me to listen to that broadcast for a very good reason. The initial grappling with how I, a very strong-willed and headstrong woman, whose intelligence and gifts my husband admired and appreciated a great deal, would become the submissive wife she felt called to be, was stalling us. I had all sorts of ideas about how the action was to be SJ’s, I needed to just be taken in hand… told what to do… but of course SJ knew it wasn’t that simple.
There are things that I am good at. VERY good at. My husband never fails to tell me he was attracted to me because he says I’m the smartest woman he knows. Although I know he’s overstating this, I appreciate his compliment. And I feel good when I can contribute a gift or talent I possess to help him and our family. Sometimes it meant SJ would deputize me to take a lead (I’m multi-lingual, so when translation is needed, SJ looks to me).
So, what of my wishes for my husband to be more demonstrative of his leadership and authority over me? To assert his wishes firmly? To quell my often rebellious spirit? To help soften and yield my heart to him? There are concepts aplenty floating around there: Dominance/submission; Taken in Hand; and even discipline (sometimes referred to as “domestic discipline:). How do any of these fit in for us? We still struggle with this question (he feels I merely should submit out of love; I can’t disagree, but I stay convinced I also need a firmer approach). I do not think that God would quibble with any consensual arrangement between a husband and wife that takes them to a better place in honoring His plan for marriage and wifely submission. Each couple will approach this in unique ways, given the characters and temperaments of the individuals. The overarching theme is the desire to love each other more than themselves, support, respect, and care for each other, and subordinate all else to that.
In this hierarchy of authority as set out in the Bible, God is in authority over my husband, and my husband is authority over me. My husband does not wish (no more than God does) to “force” me to obey him, trust him, or submit to him. My submission must be given, willingly, without reservation, joyfully.
I want to give over to the Holy Spirit the control of how to use the traits that God gave me (desire to motivate, encourage, organize) in a way that is glorifying to Him, and which allows me to submit to God and my husband. And I want to give over to my husband the submission I’ve withheld so long, asking him to love me enough to encourage me to that submission in ways I can relate to.