Being Boldly Submissive in a Culture Scared to Submit

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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.

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 We are Weary

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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Day of the Deployed – Saying Goodbye

Today is Oct. 26 – the 10th annual Day of the Deployed, a day to remember the sacrifices of all the service members deployed around the world. Perhaps, also a day to remember the families left behind as well.

I don’t know what it is like to be deployed. I only know what it is like to say goodbye and be left behind: the heaviness in my chest, the knot in my stomach, the steely resolve, and the tears hiding behind every smile.

I don't know what it is like to be deployed. I just know what it is like to say good-bye and be left behind. Day of the Deployed - Heaven Not Harvard

Below is my post from the day my husband last deployed, his fourth deployment, my third. Hopefully, our last, but we never know.

Day 365 – August 26, 2010

A very brief hour and a half after our middle of the night good-bye,  I drag myself out of bed, too focused on getting myself ready for the second day of school and getting my Lil Bit ready for daycare to allow myself any more tears. I manage to get out the door only ten minutes behind my projection, but I am running on autopilot.

I have rediscovered an appendage, my cell phone. I have an iPhone, so I am extremely attached to it anyways; it practically does the laundry! But now I have to reprogram myself to carry it everywhere. I never know when my husband will call.

He is still on post, most likely drawing weapons and waiting for the bus to load and take them to their flight, but for all intents and purposes, he is gone. I do relish the fact that I can still text message him.

I send him a quick picture of the baby in her red, white and blue outfit for the day and hope it doesn’t break his heart. I could barely drag myself back to work after the summer. How in the world can he just pick up and leave his children for a year at a time year after year after year?

He has two sons, eleven and twelve from his first marriage (now 16 and 17). They have been through all three deployments. Last deployment his younger son really struggled with missing his father and feeling angry about it. I am already planning some new things to help Chad feel more present for them throughout the year.

They have daddy dolls, which seemed too childish, but I got one for each of them, and when they saw them and understood that daddy’s picture would go in them, they both grabbed them and carried the dolls around for the rest of the afternoon.

Last night, his older son called crying. His sobs echoed out of the phone and broke like soap bubbles across my heart. Chad tried to explain where he was going and that he would be back soon. Due to some developmental delays and autism, we don’t always know what he understands or feels. This was the first time we experienced him breaking down. His mother, father and I were all surprised to hear him expressing such strong emotions. I wanted to hug him through the phone. Out of everything, I think this was the moment Chad understood he was really leaving again and had to fight back the tears himself.

So . . . I am thinking about all three of Chad’s children as I drop off Lil Bit at daycare and head to work. I am smiling, saying “hello” and “good morning” until my friend Liz asks me how I am. For a second, the dam cracks and tears rush in. I just shake my head. I am glad she is such a good friend that she immediately knew I couldn’t talk or even manage a hug without losing my carefully placed facade.

Around ten a text message says they are boarding, and I don’t know when I will hear from him again. They fly a few different patterns to Kuwait. He could stop in Newfoundland or Ireland or Maine before the final leg to Kuwait. But I don’t know, I might hear from him again in a few hours or not at all for many days.

As I text back one more I love you and be safe, I realize that my cell phone has to go everywhere with me again. It took me almost the whole year to get used to being able to leave it in one room and walk into another, and now I am tied to it again.

This lesson is driven home later when I get into the car at 4:40 and realize I missed a call while making copies. I frantically call back and call back because even though I kissed him goodbye twelve hours ago, now every phone call, email, text message feels like the last one. The last call on American soil and I missed it . . .

.  .  . then he picks up. We have only a minute before I hear the boarding call in the background. I am just glad I got to say, “I love you” one more time. Now, it really begins, the wondering if and how we will both survive – on opposite sides of this deployment and the world.

Day 366: Night Before Goodbye

I am an Army wife, a milspouse. I have been with my husband through three of his four deployments, and saying goodbye is always a bittersweet sorrow.

During his last deployment, I began to write about our daily experiences at home, waiting for his return and surviving without him. I realize that this old blog might still be encouraging or helpful for someone, so I dug it out of the archive.

I will also add any new thoughts or things I’ve learned in the years since at the end.

*          *        *         *          *          *          *

August 2010
Day 366  (the night before good-bye)I am an Army wife, a milspouse. I have been with my husband through three of his four deployments, and saying goodbye before deployment is always a bittersweet sorrow.

So . . . here it is. After months of looming, the day is finally here. His last day at home before leaving for Iraq, AGAIN.

I try not to cry when I ask if I can leave a few minutes early today. Supportive smiles are good, but the pitying looks at various levels of understanding are hard to face.

We live near a military base; people, for the most part, get it, but unless you have gone through it and sometimes even unless you’ve gone through it more than once, the nuances of this military life escape even the most sympathetic friend.

By the end of the school day, I am ready to race home, take off my heels and see my husband, but there is a heaviness surrounding our exchanges. So many words hang in the air, unsaid but felt.

Dealing with deployments-the night before goodbye is full of unsaid words and not enough time. Click To Tweet

He wants to tell me so many things, but his mouth can’t seem to juggle the marble ideas in his head and spit them out. Instead he grasps my fingertips with my arms wrapped around the baby and whispers, “I love you.” And takes her, wanting his last few minutes with her too.

By the time he sees her again, she will be crawling, maybe even walking. Today she smiles and is working up to giggling, but is still very much a newborn. When he comes home, she will have celebrated her first birthday and be several months closer to the next one.

How do you fit an entire year into one last night?

I watch him feed and snuggle her. Her whole faces explodes into a Cheshire grin when he smiles at her. I am worried that his deployment will subconsciously make her feel abandoned by men or sad.

Even though, she will never remember this year without her daddy, I will have each day etched across my heart.

He wants to eat at his favorite sushi place. I think raw fish should still be swimming in someone’s tank, but I concede. He is deploying to a place he affectionately calls “the armpit of the world” or “prison” depending on his mood. I can give in.

We have sushi and spend our last precious evening on the couch watching TV, because even though, I have raw and deep emotions, I don’t really know what to say. If we haven’t loved each other enough all year long, the next ten minutes or just the right phrase, won’t fix it.

Saying goodbye before deployment is standing on the edge, leaning over just enough not to fall. Click To Tweet

Saying goodbye before a deployment is almost dangerous, walking a fine line between rich and hopeful and breezy belief that this is just see you later. I feel like I’m peering over a cliff’s edge, leaning over just far enough not to fall.

We stay lighthearted as we start to discuss the most ridiculous news headlines of recent days. The laughter pulls us together. We laugh and want to fall asleep, but he has to go inspect barracks, so we kiss goodnight.

His goodbye is only for a few hours yet, but the word tastes bitter on my tongue. I fall asleep and wait to wake up for the real good-bye. My dreams are frantic and jumbled, some with him and some in which he is already gone.

At some point, I reach across the bed, and he is there. I am tempted to stay awake just to memorize the safe warmness of him, but drowsiness wins and I slide back into slumber.

He wakes just before four, and I get up to say goodbye.

Some wives will spend the morning sitting in the gym bleachers, listening all the speeches, etc. but it’s the second day of school. I shouldn’t miss work and can’t see waking the baby this early will help her adjust to this new routine, so we decided that good-bye is the same whether we say it now or in two hours.

Besides, I don’t have to have a brave face for anyone here at home. I cry ugly sobs when the minute comes.

Despite really trying here, I can’t quite capture the horrible lead-weight-in-my-chest feeling with words.

Quietly, I tell him to come home and be safe.

Then, he is gone. I stumble around the house picking up cast off items that didn’t make the final duffel bag. I finally drop back into bed for an hour or so before my first day as a temporary single, working mom commences.

*          *         *        *         *         *

I haven’t had to say goodbye like that in a long time now. But just reading it, I remember every feeling like it was yesterday.

I may yet have to do it again. It’s important to realize that the letting go and saying goodbye is a process that starts with his orders.

You start mentally preparing a world-wind family visit, vacation tour, and a slew of honey-do lists that will help you start this year alone.

You start measuring every moment against, “What if he never comes home,” which is the pendulum swooping ever closer that hangs over every interaction until he leaves.

I watched every second between him and the baby. As Mom, I wondered if these small moments and a picture or recording would be enough if it were all she ever had of her dad.

Definitely helps me be more mindful of the blessings I have now. Even when life is hard, it isn’t deployment hard, today.

Please let me know if you enjoyed this flashback army wife diary post.

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Imagine your tiny tyrant – a Godly wife

How do I raise a Godly wife if I’m still learning how to be one?

I originally wrote this post two years ago, I’m both encouraged by how far I’ve come and humbled by how far I still have to go.

This morning I was reviewing the book I’m reading (The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace). The author discusses how she was a spoiled-rotten only child when she first got married. Her selfishness and lack of self-control were destroying her marriage.

I read this and for the first time really realized that my daughter is not only going to grow up to become an adult, woman, mother, but also probably someone’s wife.

I spent a couple of moments in imaginary terror, picturing my almost-four-year-old as a wife, crying over every slight, demanding her way, and throwing temper tantrums. Humorous, but not a pretty picture.

My daughter is a perfectly normal almost 4 year old. She plays nicely in her room, would watch PBS all day if I let her. She reads books, asks a million questions, loves life and her energy is boundless.

Sometimes her coping skills are overwhelmed by being hungry or tired, like any preschooler. Obviously, she will mature, but will she have the strength and peace to be a woman of God as an adult?

My tiny tyrant a wife someday? How do I prepare her to be a mature woman of God? Click To Tweet
Am I preparing her to be a Godly wife? How do I prepare her for that?

My daughter is almost 4, and hyper emotional. Every bumped knee or disappointment is the end of the world.

She is used to being the center of attention, and I’ve been wondering how to parent her appropriately to guide her into self-control, patience, self-reliance, gentleness, perseverance, and faith.

I’ve been quiet recently because we’ve been struggling with spring colds and her willfulness, and I’ve been seeking some of God’s answers.

My daughter has been a tiny tyrant for the past couple of weeks. Not everyday, all the time, but it’s been a daily struggle to deal appropriately with her deliberate disobedience.

But I think the answer to her current disobedient streak and to how to prepare her to be a wife or Godly woman are the same.

It begins with me. What kind of wife and mother am I? If I am angry, selfish, loud, short-tempered, she will internalize those attitudes just the way I internalized my mom’s cleanliness and organization.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman that I want her to see and grow to be. I want her to be joyful, loving, patient, kind, funny, strange, prone to dance parties and silly songs, devouring books and learning, and knowing she is loved by her earthly parents and Heavenly Father.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman of God I want her to be. I am the example she will… Click To Tweet

Just last night, I made dinner, had all the prep dishes washed, cornbread in the oven, coffee pots ready for the next day, salads waiting to be dressed, laundry washed and folded, even had time just to play mommy, and felt like a real grown up. I know – I’m 42.

I even managed be patient all day. It was just the daily life of a wife, but I felt really good about the day.  Why? Because the house felt not just tidy, but calm and peaceful, because I had been. For too long, my focus was how clean my house was instead of the condition of my heart.

Proverbs 19:14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Would my husband say that I’m a gift from God? Whoa, I had to pray about that. And if not yet, how do I get there from here?

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Fearing the Lord is truly understanding God’s holiness, mightiness, omnipotence, righteousness and accepting our need for redemption. I immediately stopped and prayed with David from Psalm 86.

“Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11).

Faith starts by understanding who we are in God and starting to live in humility. But faith has to be seen out loud, as well.

James 2:17-18 (ESV) 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

I want my daughter to see my faith, my fear of the Lord, BY my works, by my life. We’re human. We nap, we play, we laugh, and we love each other. And we serve each other and God.

I want her to see that service to God in my heart as a joyful blessing and want to serve Him, too.

This tiny tyrant rules my heart, but I need to raise her to be the woman and Godly wife she is meant to be.

This verse is very convicting for my bold, aggressive spirit.

Proverbs 9:13  The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.

The biggest change I could make would be to become soft, quiet, and gentle. What a beautiful witness that would be to my family!

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling the Holy Spirit start to gentle me. My sinful nature is resisting, making me realize just how selfish I still am, but I see the beauty of a gentle spirit when I get it right.

When I get quiet, her unruly 4 year old nature doesn’t have a grip on my emotions like it used to. I can see her struggling with her sinful nature and guide her, instead of forcing her to deal with mine.

As a Godly wife, when I get quiet, he reaches for me and feels my love for him.

Titus 2:3-5 “3 Older women likewise 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.

Doesn’t that passage say so much? I need to be reverent, hard-working, self-controlled, pure, kind, submissive.

My answer for how do I teach her to be a Godly wife someday is right there. By example.

Proverbs 31:10 lists so many attributes of a Godly wife just in different translations of this one verse: noble, virtuous, capable, excellent, diligent, of strong character, valiant, and worthy. This wife’s price is above rubies.

How I long to exhibit this verse.

She will learn by my example. Even the world proves over and over we learn by imitation first and foremost, so I have to let the Holy Spirit work in me all day, every day so someday her husband can live in the home of my precious girl’s heart for God.

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