Monday, December 16, 2013

Marital Submission [Serve]

As a group of us from my church dove into the book of Titus to determine what women's discipleship looked like, we knew one piece that women are called to teach other women was being submissive to your husband, just as your husband is submissive to Christ. To sum up the term submissive according to many Bible dictionaries it means: inner desire, reflexively, instinctively to obey, or train your heart to be willing, (and I'm going to be spending a lot of time talking about that last part in italics). After this discussion I realized that I was not a submissive wife and I truly had no idea what it meant to "obey" or to "train your heart". I decided to dive into what that looks like and my findings astound me still.

I have to take a moment to brag on my husband, because I finally decided to embrace my role as a woman, and he has been the ever patient man, kindly leading me, gently guiding me and being an amazing role model for Christ-like attributes. Through this process I have become more in awe of him than I ever was before. This process has changed my perspective on women as a whole and instead of dreading the thought of biblical womanhood, I am learning to embrace it. I hope you share in my delights over what I've learned about being submissive and what it means to serve. Without further ado, my next piece on submission is serving...

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If I had to define Biblical submission for women in regards to serving their husbands this is what I'd tell them: Submission is a voluntary act; where YOU DECIDE to work hard at selflessly giving of yourself daily regardless of how you feel. It's a conscience decision you must make every morning your eyes pop open and your brain turns on: that your families needs are more important than your own. Once you understand how to meet your families needs you must then decide to be obedient to those wishes, starting with your husband. You are in essence meeting the needs of your husband by selflessly serving him.

The act of submission will look different for every relationship. What one husband needs is not what another needs. Every man and woman is unique, thus creating many, many different relationships with one common thread: Christ. There is no set formula for being submissive, but by talking to other women about this role, I have found a few pieces to guide you in your relationship and learning what it means to be submissive to your own husband. In finding out how to serve him, you must be intentional about knowing him and his desires, his likes, dislikes, pet peeves, wants and needs. That is the first step in service: knowing him.

Let me give you a few examples on what I mean here: I have a friend who asked her husband if there was one job he'd like to see done (if she had time to do nothing else) what would that be? He told her laundry. I thought that was an excellent question considering my husband works all day and I'm "working at home" (laundry, dishes, meals, etc. are now solely my job, there's no reason for him to come home and have to do those things on top of what he already does). Kyle kinda looked at me funny when I asked him, but his response was one I expected: "A clean kitchen, I guess." So everyday that's where I start: the kitchen. If I accomplish nothing else during the course of a busy day with my 1 year old that's okay. Serving Him that way is my joy, because I know that one task makes his coming home more enjoyable. By default one of my friends found out her husband hates dust (no kidding)! He'd go to someones house and go home saying, "That would drive me crazy!" As a result, she keeps her household dustless. My hubby hates clutter and I'm naturally a cluttery person, so it's something I'm forcing myself to work on because I know he dislikes it so much. So there are two things that I try to do everyday: clean kitchen and general pick up. Another friend does three loads of laundry a day. Another friend dusts one room of her house everyday. These things may seem tedium, but these are not tasks your husband has demanded you accomplish because he likes these things, it's you making a conscience effort to accomplish things you know would please him because you love him and are intentional in knowing him.

The second thing I found that I needed to do was rephrase my questions. Your questions should sound something like: What can I do to make my husband's life easier at home? What would I want him to do for me if I came home from a busy day at work? Example: He gets up around 4:30 am to work out and walks out the door for work by 7, so I originally asked him, "Does it bother you that I don't get up with you in the mornings?" He said it didn't and that's where I left it for a long time. However, when I started thinking about how submission is joyfully serving my husband I asked him again, "Would it help you if I got up and made you breakfast and help get your lunch around?" He said it would. So I told him that if I didn't have a long night with our daughter, I'd get up and be with him. His response after doing this for a while was that his mornings are so much better with me in them! That made me want to continue joyfully serving him in this way, still, you must understand that if I don't go back to my definition where I wake up every morning with that attitude this doesn't always happen. (Take this morning as an example. I turned my alarm off instead of hitting snooze, and slept in, ahhhhhh, I feel terrible. I feel terrible because it goes back to this: where YOU DECIDE to work hard at selflessly giving of yourself daily regardless of how you feel... and I failed.)

Another piece I had to let go of was my pride. I realized that a huge part of me, if I truly desired an attitude of submission, had to let go of any selfish thoughts. When I thought those thoughts, it affected how I talked to him, how I reacted to him, and how I treated him. One of them was, "I hate it when you _____." Let me fill in the blank with one scenario: I hate it when you leave your work out clothes on the floor in the living room. Let me tell you why he does that: he works out at 4:30 in the morning. He sets them out, gets dressed and undressed in the living room so he doesn't disturb his family as they're sleeping. In his selflessness, I was being selfish. By the time he gets ready and leaves for work he doesn't have time to put them away. How hard is it for me to do that for him everyday? Um. It's a breeze, seriously, less than two minutes.

An attitude of servitude is the most important element in any act of submission. You are not truly submissive if you're angry about a task. You are not truly submissive if you have a "how is this going to affect me" perspective. I'll give you another example: my husband works long hours and has asked me to pay the bills each month, create a household budget, &etc. I am horrible at math. This one task literally takes me all day and I hate it, but I do it because it helps my husband. I didn't have that attitude at first. At first it was, "pssssh... this should be your job. Your good at math. You should be in charge of the money. I hate making phone calls..." (excuse after excuse after excuse). The thing I love about my husband is his patience. He didn't delegate it to me (even though he very well could have) but he was selfless enough to ask, "Babe, I do not have time to do this, will you? Please?" Instead of the opposite view of submission the world thinks we endure, "You will do this or..."

A husband who strives to be Christ-like will strive to have the same qualities as Him: patience, selflessness, kindness, self-control, love, &etc. and a husband who truly understands His submission to Christ will understand your submission to him and will be kinder, gentler as a result. It is joyful obedience because you want to do everything you can to make someone you love happy, even though you know they'd love you anyway.

Your submission to your family begins in your home and how efficient you make it run by selflessly serving the people who live in it. Why do I spend so much time talking about the home? Because it is the woman's responsibility. How efficiently it runs, how comfortable the atmosphere is, the learning environment, is exactly what God is calling you to do. Whether you have a job or not your first priority is your home and the people in it: #1 is your husband. I'm not saying each mom is called to stay home, however, I am saying that the Bible explicitly states (starting in Titus 2:3) that a woman's job is in the home: "Older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Home is your first priority whether you're a lawyer, doctor, teacher, secretary, etc.  I chose to stay at home because the thought of running an efficient home and classroom overwhelmed me. And my husband joyfully encouraged me to take on the task of providing for my family first by taking a pay cut and staying home; which I failed to do initially in our marriage, read about that here. I admire the women who can do this: 1. God. 2. Husband. 3. Children. 4. Job and still have a happy, healthy, thriving family. I can not do both, nor do I want to. When I asked myself if the needs of my family were above the needs of everything else I couldn't definitively answer with a solid "yes" so I knew I needed to make changes in my life. My choice in quitting my job was the first step in submitting everything to my husband and my family: by serving their needs above my own. I encourage you to ask yourself the same question and see where the Holy Spirit will lead you, and perhaps it won't be in the same direction as mine, but I can promise you this: IT WILL NOT BE AN EASY DECISION, because it requires that you give of yourself for the sake of the gospel. By letting go of yourself, your pride, your "me" attitude, you will begin to understand why Christ did not want to die on the cross, but did it anyway. You'll begin to understand why Christ --OUR KING-- took the servants role and washed His disciples feet. You'll begin to understand that becoming like Christ means taking up your cross and living your life for him and that means (just like crucifixion) it will be painful and hard. BUT by following the Holy Spirit's leading in your life and being obedient (submissive) to it, your life in eternity is now that much more real. You are on this earth for less than 100 years (typically) and you will be meeting God face to face... what if you ignored the Holy Spirit and went your own way, followed your own dreams, instead of glorifying God with self-sacrifice? What are you going to tell him on that day? When I thought of my life as a teacher-mother-wife in that way, giving "teacher" up was easy-er.

I have A LOT of work to do in submission. The more I study Christ, who was submissive to the point of death, the more I'm starting to grasp it, but my heart is a work in progress. Some days are better than others. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who I can brag and brag on because he is ever so patient and loving with me. So let me use his example to say something to the husbands who read this:

Submission, husbands, is not you harshly demanding that something be done immediately or there will be consequencesIt is your wife lovingly and joyfully giving of herself to help you through the day. The same goes for the husband. His job is to provide for his family and that means giving of himself daily. His job is to love and cherish you. Are you lovable everyday? Are you easy to cherish? Or is your quarrelsome, irritated, selfish attitude making that difficult for him to express? When you truly master submission (Voluntarily deciding to work hard at selflessly giving of yourself daily regardless of how you feel. Remember: It's a conscience decision you must make every morning your eyes pop open and your brain turns on: that your families needs are more important than your own.) when you truly master that you become easy to love, cherish, and protect because he can't wait to get home and show you how appreciative he is of your hard work.

This will ALL take time. It will not happen over night. It will take years and my journey is only beginning. BUT that growth you experience as a result of your conscience effort to be submissive will bless your family in more ways than I can possibly count. I can't tell you the change in our family because of that conscience decision I made two years ago and the realization two months ago that I was not, in fact, submissive. After the initial kick in the gut, I got to work. I have A LOT more to share, but I hope this start has your brain reeling.

If you want to read what I wrote on how this all began: start here.
If you want to read what I wrote about the story of submission: go here.

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