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Being Boldly Submissive in a Culture Scared to Submit

Submissive is a dirty word in a culture scared to submit. We chest thump about individuality and our rights, but we'd rather let fear control us than boldly submit..


Submissive is dirty word in a culture that is scared to submit. We clamor and chest thump about individuality, celebrate rebels and smart alecs, but we’re really scared of giving up the illusion of control, foregoing what we think we need.

Women cringe as soon as pastors dust off this rusty gem from the sermon library. Submissive is the modern church’s dirty word. Just the idea of ‘obey’ in the marriage ceremony gets under our tissue paper skin like a splinter.

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Submission sounds scary. It sounds like giving in, but being BOLDLY Submissive takes strength. Click To Tweet

But nothing has made a bigger difference in my marriage than learning to be boldly submissive, and I’ve never been treated more lovingly since I stopped demanding my way and just loved him first.

If you had asked me about submission a decade ago, I would have spit nails. Seriously, me, a submissive wife? HA. Over my dead . . .

.  .  .  marriage,

which is exactly where we were headed because two people demanding their way are shouting way too loud to listen.

But I was gonna fight for my rights; my right, apparently, to be miserable.

Once I thought being submissive meant being weak, mistreated, overlooked. I couldn’t see the power in submission, the subtle strength that doesn’t need attention.

Through God’s grace, I finally understood bold submission when I realized who was the most submissive figure in the Bible.

Submissive is a dirty word in a culture scared to submit. We chest thump about individuality and our rights, but we'd rather let fear control us than love.

Christ.

Jesus had the power of the universe at his fingertips, the fringe of his garments healed; he could have commanded angels to pull him off the cross.

Submission changed when I realized the most submissive person in the Bible went to the cross. Click To Tweet

If anyone EVER deserved to arrogantly insist on His way, it was Jesus Christ, but He chose bold submission to God’s plan, to be utterly persecuted, violently punished for sins He had not committed, dying completely separated from God out of His love for us.

No matter how many times I use that word, my love for my family will never measure up to that standard, but it isn’t weakness that makes me try, it takes strength and courage to obey.

However, I learned that submitting to my husband wasn’t really the standard, I am submitting to God. He asks we put others before ourselves, serve secretly, give in the shadows.

I’m submitting, not just to my husband, but God’s placement of me into this family to be a living, breathing example of humility and love.

When I feel myself start to puff up with not-s0-righteous indignation about some slight, God reminds me of this …

John 13:34 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

He loved me to the point of death.

I can overlook a lot of slights: a mess in the kitchen, coming home late, not listening when I speak, bringing home the not organic butter.

Being Boldly Submissive looks like:

  • Being loving over being right.
  • Choosing not to nag.
  • Being humble when I’ve made a mistake.
  • Loving without expectation of return.
  • Obeying God.
  • Forgiving without an apology.
  • Being gently firm in my expectations as a parent.
  • Looking for ways to serve others.
  • Dying to myself everyday as often as possible.

I’m learning still. I’m continuing to store God’s word in my heart so I can obey His plan for my next step as a wife, mother, and disciple.

The original disciples submitted to God’s will for their lives and died to share Christ with the world. I could only be so bold.

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When People Disappoint

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

We know people will disappoint us, but we can be so surprised when we are standing in that place.

Oh, that moment is so crushing. Staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence that someone you love fell short today.

Your picture of that person was cracked or shattered in one fell swoop. Maybe the picture of your relationship cracked too, or your perception of yourself through their eyes changed.

Maybe you sensed it was coming, but often, one final straw finally drifts into place and our relationship is on the chopping block.

I’m right there with you. Earlier this week, I wrote about how weary I am, and part of my weary is dealing with some difficult relationships. Long distances, text messages, awful choices, and busy schedules all contribute to how we disappoint each other, and I’m struggling with tough places in a few different relationships.

Here is where I’m resting today.

People always disappoint.

We can be so surprised when people disappoint us. We stand there with our pretty picture shattered and say now what? What do we do when people disappoint?

Because we’re flawed and human, All. Of. Us. We are going to disappoint each other, in little ways and big ones, at some point.

I have to stop being surprised when people are human.

Stop being surprised people are human. Restore them in gentleness when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

In that moment when the disappointment is raw, put yourself in their shoes. Giving them all the benefit of the doubt, what do you think they were thinking?

What do you think they are feeling now facing your disappointment? How can we meet them in Christ where they are?

How we handle the moment of disappointment may speak louder than anything else we do.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What does it look like to restore someone in gentleness and avoid the temptation to sin ourselves?

First, I remember my own failures and God’s grace for me when I don’t deserve it.

I have yet to survive one day without failure. Offer grace first when people disappoint. Click To Tweet

I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Samuel recently. I’m blown away by how these familiar stories speak new wisdom to me today. The stories of Saul and David say so much about how to act when people disappoint us.

Saul was God’s anointed king for Israel, but (1 Samuel 18) in his sin, he fell from God’s grace, becoming paranoid and selfish, plotting to kill David.

David is disappointed, heartbroken, his king, his God’s anointed, wants him dead for no failure of his own.

David twice finds Saul served to him by God’s hand, in the cave (1 Samuel 24/26 ) and in his camp asleep, but instead of letting his hurt and anger rule him, David chooses to show Saul he could have killed him, but did not.

David takes steps to protect himself, but sees Saul’s sins are really against God, not himself. He is dismayed and saddened, without seeking to return hurt for hurt.

TWICE, David spares a man who is murderously plotting against him without cause, leaving Saul’s fate in God’s hands.

Twice? why?

To prove to Saul that he really was blameless (David’s righteousness made Saul’s sins more glaring.), but also as an example of how we are to continue in righteousness continuously, even when offense is piled upon offense.

So I’m still disappointed. I have hurt feelings, there is lost trust, and some of my relationships may not be restored right now.

But my focus has to be on God who never disappoints and staying righteous in His eyes.

I have to remember my emotions are nothing compared to God’s ability to rebuke or restore, forgive and sanctify. I can wait on Him.

Protecting myself is okay, but I should avoid returning sin for sin.

Letting God rule my heart even in the midst of big disappointments isn’t always easy. I get angry; I hurt. Indignant doesn’t look good on me, but in my own sin, I disappoint people all the time. I’m not usually trying to fail when I do.

If I hope for grace, I have to offer it too. Recognizing my worth and value in God’s eyes is immutable gives me pause to connect their failures with human nature, and offer a chance to explain, to understand, to apologize.

In the end, I guard my own walk with Christ and forgive them.

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When We are Weary

When We Are Weary - Are you weary, momma? My weary is weary. Does God have purpose in my weary? How do I survive this weary and find His rest?

Are you weary, momma? I’m so weary my weary is weary. I can’t even think in complete sentences. Sinus pressure headaches create caveman speak inside my head, “Need coffee. Feed tiny human.”

Even my daily scripture app knows how exhausted I am, presenting me with this gem the other day.

Proverbs 30:1b “. . . I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.”

What is your weary?

A teething baby, a health crisis, a rebellious teen, a sick pet, an artistic toddler with a preference for your walls as canvases, financial worries?

When we are WEARY, we wear down, we wear out.

I get sick faster. I get emotional more quickly. I don’t cope with life well.

My parenting and marriage suffer when being busy and tired becomes being weary. Click To Tweet

I’m emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted after the busiest, hardest couple of weeks in a long time.

I came home Friday afternoon finally ready to withdraw, get some solid quiet time between me and God and start tackling my to do list, only to be stricken by intense nausea.

When We Are Weary - Are you weary, momma? My weary is weary. Does God have purpose in my weary? How do I survive this weary and find His rest?

I lay on the couch, willing myself not to be sick, and just sobbed.

I was really struggling that moment with an overwhelming need to demand, “WHEN? just when is it MY turn, God?!?!”

When can I just have the mental energy I need to get myself together?

When we are weary, we wear down. What can we do to heal WEARY? Click To Tweet

I heard God answer, not today, maybe not tomorrow. I’m not giving you what you want or even what you think you need, I promised to give you what you need.

NEED?

Matthew 6:8 ESV .  .  .  your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

What I need to do what?

To be refined and purified for My Kingdom, to serve others, and to be prepared for what comes next.

Oh, not for my sanity or emotional well-being. He is giving me what I need to GROW UP in Him.

Sigh.

At this point, I really want to stomp my feet and slam a door, but I pause. God isn’t punishing me, He is giving me riches.

Philippians 4:19 ESV  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I may not understand today, but I can trust this weary is purposeful because nothing is wasted when I turn my loose ends over to Him. He is building wisdom and strength in me, and a need for Him through this current weary.

When I hand God my loose ends, nothing is wasted. He's building wisdom, strength and a need for Him in my weary. Click To Tweet
Matthew 11:28 ESV  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Sometimes, when I’m tired and frustrated, I prefer to throw myself a little pity party. I just want to wallow in being miserable.

But when I set my stubborn aside,

I’ll find rest when I come to Him.

  1. Pray: for His perspective in this moment and strength to get through this moment until I can rest.
  2. Be Still. Let Him be God. Listen for His instruction to separate my actual responsibilities from the weights I’ve put on myself.
  3. Open my Bible. Lots of good encouragement in there, plus it’s really hard to focus on my weary in comparison to the stories of the Bible.
  4. Triage. What is God’s greatest calling right now? Do that, then the next thing. Don’t worry about seven steps from now, prioritize. Being a loving wife and mother is WAY more important than cleaning house or making a gourmet meal.

After a weekend of being too sick to move, I chose the things that MUST be done, what I’d like to get done, and wrote down the rest. Writing things down relieves mental anxiety and stress, cutting down my weary.

REST

  1. Schedule rest. I know I don’t have a lot of spoons everyday. I have an intensely weak immune system and horrible allergies. Pretending I have more spoons, will rob me of tomorrow’s spoons. I must build rest into our schedule.
  2. Find what re-energizes you. Take time to do those things.
Rest - not at the expense of the mom you want to be, but SO you can be the mom you want to be. Click To Tweet

When we’re exhausted, we lose sight of the truth: God gives us what we need to grow in Him. We’ll get tired. But let us not grow weary of doing good.

Galatians 6:9 ESV  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

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Abiding Love

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Abiding love is safe, enduring, permanent, sacrificial love.

Our worship pastor this morning read from John 15, verses about abiding love, the love of the Father that Christ demonstrated for us through his life of purity and sacrifice.

and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of those verses and ABIDE.

Like curve into an cozy chair by the fire, swathed in a rich blanket –

ABIDE – continue, remain, survive, last, persist, stay

I wanted to hang out in those verses, because I never knew how to love purely, without all the human confusion we put into it, until I knew how deeply I am loved by Him.

I was wiping away tears by the time he finished sharing today. God’s love has a way of touching my heart that makes me want to drop everything and just stay in His presence.

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Christ invited me – you – to abide in His love, the kind of love God has for Christ. I can only look at my daughter and imagine God’s pure love for Christ. I wanted to rest there and be held by His truth.

I wanted to sit down in those verses wrapped in a cozy blanket and rest in His abiding love. Click To Tweet

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

John 15:16a ESV  You did not choose me, but I chose you . . .

Powerful stuff – Being chosen. We tend to think in this Christian walk that we made some big decision to choose God, but we really just surrendered to His already having chosen us.

He chose us before the formation of the world. While I was a dirty mess of a sinner, I was already CHOSEN, set apart for His purpose.

How differently I have lived since understanding this truth. There is a confidence to knowing I am His beloved daughter.

And I really like that.

But when I heard this verse, I wanted to lean over to my husband and whisper “I chose you.”

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

I my still human way, I’m trying to learn how God has loved me and love him with that kind of love, love that gives up me to serve him.

I chose him the day he proposed in the middle of “an arrest”. I chose him the day we said I do. I choose him the days he is grumpy and selfish. I still choose him when his dreams and mine don’t match.

But I wonder if he really understands how much I choose to remain in his arms, seek his presence, ache for him. Does he understand he can rest in my love?

The confidence I have in Christ is the confidence I want to share with those I love. I want my husband to know my love is abiding love.

He can rest there. It is permanent because it’s God’s love for him through me when I remember to get out of the way.

I try to love my friends with abiding love. They know that I am the soft, squishy place to rest from a prickly world. A place that forgives when feelings are tender and communication gets lost.

I pray that you have Christ’s abiding love, a real love on this day we often celebrate the wrong things, that His love abides in you. I pray you abiding love through friends and family too.

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How to Save your Marriage When War Comes Home

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

When a soldier comes home, War comes home, too. When my husband came home last time, it was our hardest yet. He came home to a stressed-out wife starting her next school year and a toddler daughter he barely knew. Reintegration was going to be tougher than it had ever been on top of the extreme stress of cumulative deployments.

Reintegration means readjusting, remembering things we took for granted: Where is my place? What is my role? How do we do this together?

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For me, a small positive of deployments is getting to organize my house to my little OCD heart’s content. I get to color code and label. And everything stays where I put it. Hooray! A little thing I can enjoy while trying not to worry about my husband being in a war zone.

Remind Him that You Need Him

But when he comes home, I’ve moved his things. The gadgets only he uses got relegated to the back of the cabinets. He feels put away, like he doesn’t quite fit. Our lives went on without him, and we were just fine. Of course, It isn’t true, but it feels true to him.

He’s forgotten how to do the everyday things, and we’ve got our own rhythm.

Coming home took away his sense of mission and purpose. He felt like he left the job undone in Iraq and didn’t know how to change gears. He struggled to find his place in our home and lives. I had to learn how to let him back in, let him be her dad and do things his way.

Be Patient

Truly reintegrating took time. Six years after his last return and we are still finding places in our lives that we’ve held apart, stories we haven’t told, hurts we need to share. Learning to communicate our deepest truths after years of skype and emails takes practice almost like dating all over again, but with piles of expectations and resentment to climb over.

Think marathon, not sprint.  In fact, sometimes, it’s a relay race! Who is coping better today? You’ve got the ball.

When a soldier comes home, War Comes Home, too. Becoming one again is a marathon, not sprint. Click To Tweet

The mental and emotional tolls are only part of the equation. Deployments are also tremendously physically demanding, adrenaline pumping continuously 24 hours a day, everyday.

At least, previous deployments had prepared me to be patient with him. He was a hummingbird around the house, zipping from place to place, barely lingering long enough to be still a moment. I got exhausted watching him.

When a soldier comes home, War comes home, too.

It was weeks before he sat down, then all he did was sleep. His body was wrecked from getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night and wearing 100lbs of gear all day everyday for a year.  When he finally crashed, he slept every empty minute for weeks. My heart broke to watch him sleeping through those precious hours, when I so desperately just desired his presence.

As much as I wanted to authentically celebrate his being home, it took almost a year to feel like he was really home. And then the really hard work started.

Anticipate additional time for healing after he comes home.

The wounds from war are deeper than just the adrenaline and combat; they’ve lost so much time.

I was not as patient as I could have been. I felt like I’d been alone raising this baby by myself for so long, I just needed my husband. But he wasn’t ready to be home with us. He felt robbed of another year of his life, hunting and fishing, and having any time alone after being continuously with others (even on the toilet). As a mom, I can better relate now!

And then the loss of time with his kids was stoo much, he didn’t know how to cope, let alone how to begin reconnecting with them.

A special kind of hurt wraps itself like a noose around your heart when you lose time with your children, much less a cumulative 4-5 years of their lives. Just writing those words grieves my heart.

I. CAN’T. EVEN.

Additionally, the unique, violent experiences he had in combat came home with him too; they live in his heart and mind in a way I’ll only barely grasp. They were tearing him up inside, and I didn’t know how to help or that I was inadvertently making things worse.

We said the word “divorce” too often in the heat of bickering over mundane domesticities that turned vicious. Our house became the war zone.

We reached a point nothing on earth could save us, at least nothing OF earth.

God doesn’t want us to turn to Him because we think His way might be better. God wants us on our knees imploring Him to save us. He wants us to realize our desperate need for Him, so we won’t take another step without him. He wants our full surrender, that moment we truly give it over to Him, quit playing at Christian and become a disciple.

For me, the path to that moment of surrender started when I truly realized the extent war comes home. The smell of it, the frenetic energy of it, the despair, bravado, and horror of it moved in with his foot locker at the end of his 4th deployment.

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

And things got bad. Really bad. Not everyday was bad, but we fought a lot. Tension and anger were the under current of our marriage and home. I didn’t know what to do. It felt like we couldn’t even talk.

I started crying out to God.

But I wasn’t completely ready for total surrender. It took another year for the moment I stood in front of God and said, I just want you, to follow you, Lord, no matter what. I’m standing here until you make me move.

I had to learn to lean on God, completely.

When I finally grasped how I had been forgiven by God, I remember feeling like Paul when the scales dropped from his eyes, my vision changed almost physically. I finally understood that I didn’t have to get cleaned up to come to Christ. I just had to come and he would clean me up.

The next step for me was a book called When War Comes Home: Christ-Centered Healing for Wives of Combat Veterans. God placed this book in my path at just the right time to make dramatic changes in my heart and marriage. I spent the next several months reading a chapter a week and discussing it with a dear friend. We were both struggling with how combat had changed our husbands.

The book is written by combat veterans, wives, and experts from a Christian perspective. It costs about $25, but is a priceless resource. The book deals with everything from grieving the changes any combat veteran might experience to the most severe PSTD, offers insight and biblical solutions, as well as resources for help, counseling and domestic abuse if necessary.

I learned so much about forgiveness and commitment, God’s truths, and our real enemy in this world. Some content might not relate if your spouse isn’t a veteran, but so many raw truths about love being an action, not just emotion make this a trusted marriage manual I could recommend to anyone.

I was able to start understanding what he had seen and how he had lived in a way I hadn’t before. Compassion blossomed in my heart.

I had prayed for God to change my husband, and He did, but His answer was, “you first.” Today, I am tearfully thankful for that.

I remember one evening after a rough day, I was standing over dishes and a mess not of my making. My husband walked in from work and was being kind of a jerk. I felt my frustration start to rise. I was so angry I didn’t even know what to say.

My mouth clamped shut and I prayed in my head, “Lord, help me see him the way you do.” Instantly I saw the chains around him dragging him down: war, anger, death, loss, grief, shame. He wasn’t a jerk on purpose; he was too wounded to be anything else.

How can you save your marriage when war comes home? It's a journey of patience and grace with a whole lot of Jesus filling in the empty spaces.

Lord, please change my husband. His answer - You first! Tearfully grateful for His grace. Click To Tweet

“Oh, you’re having a hard time just being you today . . .” I said. He froze. His eyes immediately softened and changed. “Yes, I’m having a hard time being me.” “What can I do to help you?” “Give me five minutes to myself.” Done! Easy peasy lemon squeezy as my kiddo likes to say. So simple.

Ditch the expectations

And that was the beginning. I stopped expecting ANYTHING from him beyond going to work and coming home. While that sounds drastic, he couldn’t handle the pressure of my expectations. And I had been counting on him to make me happy when I should have been finding my joy in Christ.

I finally realized, he couldn’t fill my longing for true and everlasting love. Human love would always disappoint, but God never would.

Eventually, he began to unfurl in the security of God’s love for him through me and be able to relax again, laugh more, and take back some leadership in our home.

It’s been a couple of years, and I am still just barely scraping the surface of how war comes home, how what he has seen changes everything for him: the sound of a child crying, watching political debates, going to the movies, driving down the road.

We are just learning to trust and rely on each other again for the most secret places of our hearts.

After years of self-reliance, it takes practice to risk being vulnerable with each other again. I had to learn to listen with my heart to a person God loves more than I do, and I had to stop taking his anger and emotions so personally.

But God has worked miracles in my heart that are healing both of us and our marriage.