This word makes me cringe. It makes a flood of emotions run through my brain, my heart and my spirit. A ball of conflicting thoughts rage within. I have always believed in submission. As a child of God we must submit our will to His. I get that. I have lived that. As a wife I believed I had to submit to my husband. It is what good Christian girls are taught. And abusive “Christian” men learn to use as a weapon.
This weekend I was really wrestling with the Lord about this subject. I panic when I think of being in a relationship with a man (not that there is anything on the horizon at this point) for many reasons, but this idea of submission is definitely at the top of my panic buttons. Let me explain what submission in an abusive marriage looks like.
Submission meant I had no say in my own life. It meant I had to bend, twist and hide in order to be “in line” with his expectations. If I refused his advances at any time, I would get scripture quoted at me to submit. It did not matter if I was in pain, had just given birth, was about to have my appendix burst, was grieving a loss, or any other reason, if I refused him I was an ungodly, rebellious, unloving, disrespecting wife. Even if I had the courage to refuse, he used force. So I submitted.
Submission meant lying for him. Lying to his boss or employees about why he was not at work, lying to the state about his sobriety when driving, lying to friends and family about his addictions, his abuse. If I refused or dared speak up, I was not being a good wife. I would get punished. So I submitted.
Submission meant never talking about the pain he caused me. It meant taking all the responsibility in the brokenness of our relationship. It meant not being allowed to challenge his ultimate god-given authority over me. After all I am the weaker vessel right? So I submitted.
Submission meant that as parents, He is right, I am wrong. That if he yells, cusses, hits our children it is his right to do so. If I dared get in the way of that, well it’s time to call the pastor and set me straight. I was ruining the children’s chances of becoming “real men” if I got in his way. He is the head. I am to follow. So I submitted.
I am sure I could think of many other ways that submission played a role in our marriage, but this gets the point across, right? My issues with submission in a nutshell. So the very idea of ever getting remarried, causes fear, rebellion, anxiety to well up inside of me. Never again will I submit to a man! That is what my heart screams! Even when I am lonely and wrestle with my own desires and dreams of a happy family….
And then, God whispers to my very broken heart. When I ran away from my husband, I was submitting myself to Christ. I was following His voice, His calling, His will. For the first time in 15 years I was willing to obey Christ more than my husband. It was not God’s plan for me to submit to an ungodly marriage. A marriage that mocked God. That is not the submission God had in mind when he commanded wives to submit to their husbands.
A godly man would not demand submission to himself and his every desire at the cost of his wife’s spirit. A godly man would encourage a deeper relationship with Christ and lead by example. A godly man would lead a life in submission to his savior, and would therefore encourage me to do the same. A godly man would take responsibility for himself and recognize his head of household position as a privilege and a responsibility to live in righteousness. A godly man would not use scripture to punish, guilt or ridicule his wife, all the while living in complete disobedience to scripture himself.
A godly man. Not a perfect man. Not incapable of selfishness, mess ups and causing pain. But a godly man who fixes his mess ups, who apologizes for the pain, who ultimately knows how to empathize and show compassion. A man who continually seeks the Lord, seeks spiritual growth and loves his wife the way Christ loves his church.
So maybe I can finally be at peace when I think of that word. Maybe there will be such a man for me who can restore my faith in the idea of a godly marriage, and maybe there won’t be. I am ok either way, because I KNOW that I am living my life in submission to Christ and His will for me. I KNOW that I am doing the best I can with what this life has given me.
I can submit to Jesus. He has carried me, he has loved me, he has provided for me. He is my heart, my song, my strength, it is an honor and a privilege to submit to him.