Why can’t I stop thinking of problems? My mind never rests…
There is a problem…. It’s me, feeling like the victim, the martyr, the enabler, the codependent……I am the dirty, soot covered, overworked, exhausted, misunderstood, forgotten Cinderella… and I’m pretty sure it’s all my husband’s fault! And I was “trying” to be the “submissive” godly wife.
Could submission be the problem? Do I even understand it?
Am I submitting if I…
…obey the speed limit yet complain about it?
…tell the pastor how great his sermon is, when I feel he’s wrong?
…cover for an addict?
…keep quiet when my husband lacks involvement with the kids?
…feed a friendship that is always taking and never giving?
…practically do my kids homework for them?
…provide what my husband says he needs and wants, when he says he needs and wants it?
Should I be everything to everyone, filling in their deficits and all their shortcomings and needs?
That is Not submission! None of those are good examples of submission. Submission is not doing too much, giving too much, or allowing others to take too much. Those examples are “enabling” or “codependent” behaviors.
So what is Submission?
You’ve probably heard the words “help mate”, “help meet” or maybe the word “ezer”. According to (counselor, speaker, writer, theologian, & minister) Rick Thomas’s articles, “Going Over Your Husband’s Head” & “His Needs – Her Needs Aren’t Really Needs”, the word Help refers to a title “Helper” and the word Meet refers to an action, to be suitable or complementary (not to be confused with complimentary).
In other words; Rick says,…. each husband has a wife who is suited to him. The husband is not better than his wife and the wife is not better than her husband. They complement each other. Eve is not part of Adam like a bump on a log or added baggage to Adam’s life. Each of them have missing parts that the other can fill, making a beautiful “one flesh union”.
So how are we to be equal, yet submissive? What does that look like? Christ is our example. He submitted himself to his father even though he was equal. Phillipians 2 is our example to follow. We as women have a role of “wife” (submission) and also a “sister” (equal) in Christ.
Rick suggests that if a wife is not helping her husband in his sanctification, she is not adequately fulfilling her role as a wife. Not to say that she should lecture or officially teach, but she should prayerfully and humbly teach her husband what she knows so that together they can make a good “One flesh”.
I like the following, short, partial explanation of submission.
“True submission is not always making the one we submit to happy, but seeking his or her best interest at our own expense.” Bob Deffinbaugh bible.org
Knowing this, how do we respond when there is something to address?
There are three ways to respond to this understanding of submission. (2 are unhealthy)
1.) The first is being passive. It sometimes results from a misunderstood definition of submission or a forced submission. A passive reaction might include denying there is a problem, blaming or avoidance. This is a sin of Omission. (Sins of omission seem like they are really not sins, but they are.)
2.) The second is attacking or being critical. It sometimes results from having a desire for a healthy marriage that becomes so important that it dethrones God. Desire that leads to anger is sin. This reaction might include put downs, gossip, fighting, disrespect or even a desire to rule over your husband. This is a sin of Commission.
3.) The third is God’s way: This results from our relationship with God, understanding and accepting the unconditional love that He offers. This reaction may include that the offense be overlooked OR serious repetitive offenses being talked over or getting outside help if needed.
To act lovingly we need to understand and receive unconditional love from God. We all need unconditional love. If we don’t get Unconditional love then we can’t give it.
According to Tim Keller (pastor & author of “the Meaning of Marriage”): If we don’t understand and receive unconditional love from God, we will try to get it elsewhere. Often and least insidious is getting it from our kids. They are helpless and easy to love even when they are acting in unloving ways. But that is not good for us, our marriage, our kids or our community. Worse yet, we could get it from a friend or coworker which could end in an affair.
We must get unconditional love vertically from God, to give it horizontally to others. Getting it from God is perfect love. A great understanding of unconditional love is the fact that”
“Christ didn’t die because we are lovely.
He died to make us lovely,….”
We become lovely as we show the fruits of the spirit which is “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…”(Gal. 5:22-23)
Unconditional Love is not performance based.
It’s not saying, “If you don’t change, I wont love you.”
It is saying, “Because I love you, please change.”
If I am filled with the complete acceptance and love of God that is based on pure love and not performance, then I can love without fear of wrath or fear of disappointment, even if I need to enter into conflict with someone or stand my ground. We act out of love, not requirement.
Dr. R. Land PhD. (SES apologetics conference 2015) suggests that we imagine God physically with us all day. Would it change the way we act? If we can’t imagine that or if imagining Him all day doesn’t change a thing, then we must examine our beliefs and reevaluate our relationship with Him.
For the first time I realized I had the wrong perspective. My beliefs allowed me to think that I was an unappreciated, unloved, forgotten & helpless dirt covered Cinderella. I’d been thinking all along that I was being Christ-like, but I misunderstood submission. I had been responding with sins of Omission and Commission.
Yes Jesus died a martyr death, but that is not how he lived. He did not let people take advantage of him or harm him…. until his appointed time. He spoke the truth in love. He confronted people, he made people mad,… mostly He Loved them.
He was with me in the dirt all along. I’d just not noticed or I’d ignored Him. Now I notice that when I spend more time with him, I am less critical of what’s wrong and instead I’m affirming and encouraging of what is right in my marriage. I’ve tried so many ways to fix things. The missing ingredient was UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. I have not solved all my problems. I understand that this is a JOURNEY. At least I know I’m on the right track if I keep Christ in front.
My hope for husbands and wives is to realize that we grow the most in difficult circumstances and suffering, and suffering helps us to know Him more.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phillipians 1:9-11 ESV)
Let me encourage you to read Ephesians 5 and Phillipians 2 as a couple. There is much more of a command for the husband than the wife in Ephesians 5. We wives should find comfort in his assignment of the servant leadership role, as he is ultimately responsible to love us like Christ loved the church (isn’t that unconditionally?) and he is responsible for the shape we are in, when he presents us to Christ! Yikes. Maybe we should pity him, just a little.
Focus on the Family &
Focus on the Family Magazine
Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast App
Rick Thomas His Needs – Her Needs Aren’t Really Needs
Rick Thomas Going Over Your Husband’s Head
Bob Deffinbaugh Definition of Submission
The Meaning of Marriage, by Keller
Dr. R. Land – Is Submission Politically Correct?
(no link SES Conference 2015)
Counseling & Discipleship Training –
“Biblical Counseling: Biblical Answers for the Problems of Life”
*Changing our husbands is not our job – changing ourselves is.
*My goal should not be to please my husband, but to please God. Am I pleasing God by the way I complement and submit to my husband?
*Challenge: Google “codependency check list” or “signs of codependency” to see if you have these tendencies. Hint: We all show them in some way or another.