I have struggled my whole life with submission to authority. I think it really stems from the fact that I often think (wrongly) that I am smarter than others. It took a good amount of discipline from my parents to bring me under their authority. Soon I figured out that proper behavior would keep me out of trouble, but I was often raging in my heart or consumed with thinking of ways to still get what I wanted. Thankfully, God reined me in and I grew to love and respect my parents. I believe that this was a direct result of their ardent prayers and a softening of my own heart from hearing the Word.
This bent to be independent probably worked in my favor during the teen years, because I was bound and determined that no person (boy) would own me. I had many wonderful male friends, but they were kept at a safe distance. If they showed any sort of interest then that was quickly squelched. Even if a guy would put his arm over the back of my chair I would move away. I was not going to be trapped or held in place by anyone.
Again, I softened up as I got older and allowed others a little closer. I think that this was more intriguing than anything because many of those male friends showed a more serious interest. I was flattered, but in my heart knew that it would never be more. Why? Because I knew myself enough to know that I would never submit to them. It wasn't that I didn't like them or care for them or enjoy them. They were worthy of respect. I just knew that my rebellious heart wouldn't give it. I needed a strong leader. Someone who would challenge and stretch me. A man who would love me to the point that he would require me to do things I did not want to do but were for my own good.
Well, God gave me all of that when he gave me Sean. Sean has never given me cause to disrespect him. He never demands that I take his point of view on things or do things his way "just because". I can go to him with my questions or differences and he patiently explains his view. Most convincingly, Sean is a student of the Word and can show me in Scripture where he is coming from. I'm not going to argue with that.
However, Sean will not back down from what is True. He will not apologize for obeying God and does not swerve once he has been convicted to do something. If there is a rub, this is where it lies for me. As women usually do, I'm a little more ruled by emotion:)
"But, Sean," I say in the sweetest voice possible, "we don't want to offend them or hurt their feelings." "Now let's just think about how we could do this a little differently so people will like us." "Maybe if we just wait..." "It wouldn't be comfortable." So supportive am I. And I'm usually on the sidelines sweating bullets and ringing my hands waiting for the other shoe to drop, while doing my best not to cry or complain. Submissive, I know.
I'll give you two prime examples:
Sean's grandma was diagnosed with cancer while we were expecting Elizabeth (her name's sake). One Sunday afternoon while I was about to lay down for my long awaited Sunday afternoon nap, Sean informed me that he thought I should take the baby over to see his Grandma. I wanted to do no such thing. I was so tired. Their house is hot (it was July). I had about a thousand reasons why this would not be a good idea. Sean would not back down. He didn't argue. He just said, "I'm sorry, out of respect for me, you are going to go."
I grumbled all the way there. I couldn't believe that he would demand me to do such a thing! I spent the afternoon there letting her hold the baby and took some pictures. That evening she slipped into a coma and died within a week.
Did Sean have some special insight? No. But God was leading him in tenderness toward his Grandma and that required that I do something, too. I have been thankful countless times for that afternoon and for those pictures. I consider myself blessed to have been one of the last people to speak to her. That precious time would have been missed had nothing been required of me.
Another example. Sean was asked to read "scripture" for his Grandmother's funeral mass and was handed a script to read. Well, it wasn't God's Word. He couldn't read it. So he informed his family that he wanted to participate in the mass, but would be reading from the Bible only and that he would be praying his own words. Some were very offended, but others began to question. The whole time I was internally in knots convinced that this is the worse offense ever.
But he would not back down. He was willing to stand for Truth in the most sensitive and difficult of situations. He loved his Grandmother deeply, but loves God more. The result of the story is that God used this encounter to open the heart of his aunt and her family to hear the Gospel for the first time.
What brings all of this up? A few weeks ago, there was a conflict in an activity and my commitment to obey God in an area where the lines are very clear. It seemed that they only way to obey was to make a lot of people I love upset. Couldn't we just move the lines a little? Sean said, "We are not backing away. We know what is right. It's final." I brooded. I complained. I pouted. I was ugly. Poor him.
Sean just looked at me and said nothing else about it. Though hard as I may try, he was going no where on this issue. It wasn't a matter of being inflexible or stern. There just wasn't really anything he could do to change it. And worse than that, I was confronted again with the fact that I may be submissive in action, but not in attitude.
But you know what God did? He intervened. He changed the schedule so that all worked out perfectly. No one else knew any differently. But I did.
Such a stark reminder going into this new year that there is so much more work to be done in me. My attitude toward Sean's authority is a pretty good indication of my submission to God's and vice versa. Being submissive is not being commanded what to do, it is walking in loving obedience.
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. -2 John 5-6