On our way to church to help out with relief efforts for flood victims, I asked my husband, Edric, if we could buy canned goods to donate. He was okay with the idea, but he suggested that we get them at the grocery near our place, which we knew for sure would be open. However, I insisted that we go to the grocery near our church so we wouldn’t have a hard time hauling the boxes. He told me, “I don’t think it will be open.” I was like, “Of course it will be. Why would they close that grocery on a day when they know people need to buy groceries?”
Our kids were listening to our dialogue in the back seat. And I didn’t realize they were paying very close attention to the way I responded to Edric. I wasn’t impolite at all, but I really wanted him to consider my suggestion. I thought it was way more practical and sensible. Again he said, “I think it will be closed.” In response, I said, “Well if its closed, maybe our plan B can be to donate money instead?”
Edric was willing to go with that. And I was still so sure that plan A would still work. When we got there, my second son, Edan, announced, “It’s closed!”
Sheepishly, I turned towards Edric and apologized. He went to withdraw money at the ATM and I got grilled by my two older sons.
“You should have obeyed, mom!” “See, you should have listened to daddy, he’s the boss.” “Next time, just obey.”
Was this even an issue of obedience? I thought to myself. We were discussing options and I merely insisted on my idea. Okay, it looked like I wasn’t obedient, like I was insubordinate. Lesson learned. Boy, was this humbling. Edric didn’t have to say anything. He had his little “officers” standing beside him giving me that see-what-happens-look.
“You’re right, boys. I should have obeyed.”
God has his ways of teaching me to trust in my husband. The funny thing is I don’t really struggle with the big submission issues. It’s the small day to day things that I can be contradictory about.
I remember an instance when I was going to Divisoria and Edric saw me about to leave the door wearing slippers. Our dialogue went something like this.
Edric: “I don’t think you should wear slippers. It might rain and it gets really dirty there.”
Me: “Hon, I’m going to be trying lots of shoes on and it will be inconvenient for me to wear something else. Besides it’s not going to rain today.”
Edric: “I still think you should change to something else.”
Well, I didn’t want to listen so I wore slippers anyway. That day, God sent a rain cloud to Divisoria and I had the cruddiest, black mud stuck in between my toes and on my feet. I had to douse my feet with alcohol and rub them down with Kleenex. I came home and told Edric about God’s submission lesson to me, and I apologized for being insubordinate. We had a good laugh. But it was a loud and clear message.
Submission and obedience are meant for my blessing and my good. As women, we often hate the word submission because we think of it as something negative. We have this image of a man trampling over a woman’s rights and dignity. And the reality is we have encountered men or know men who do not know how to treat women with respect and real love. But God didn’t intend for women to end up with men like this! (It’s a wonder why so many choose them!)
He created men to be spiritual leaders and he called them to love, protect, and provide for their families. Yet so many men fall short of this standard because they don’t know God and what his Word has to say about their role, or they do know but they are selfish (like we are, too!). Our reflex response as women is to look out for ourselves or take charge when we feel like our sense of security is threatened. When we feel like the men are not stepping up, or they can’t be trusted, we go into self-preservation mode. We reverse the roles and “wear the pants” if necessary just to make sure that our men make the right decisions or that we don’t end up at the losing end of a relationship or situation.
I know this because I was like this at the beginning of my marriage. Every time I distrusted Edric’s decision making capacity, I contradicted, challenged, and manipulated him to do things my way. Well, Edric has a pretty strong personality so we would butt heads instead. And this led to a lot of conflict. What changed?
God changed me and God changed Edric. I surrendered my marriage to the Lord and my rights (of course, I’m still a work in progress!). The verse on submission says this, “Wives, submit to your husbands AS UNTO THE LORD.” (Ephesians 5:22) Ultimately, I wasn’t disobeying my husband when I was unsubmissive, I was disobeying God. And if I was submissive, I was submitting as unto the Lord – for the Lord, because of the Lord, trusting in the Lord to look out for me.
Submission is a heart issue. God knows our hearts. I can be submissive on the outside but negative and begrudging on the inside. That doesn’t count. At the end of the day, the desire to submit reveals whether I trust God completely or not. If I focus on my husband, I may not always feel like submitting to him. I can be tempted to think, he is not doing his God-given role so why should I fulfill my God-given role? I will submit when he is deserving of my submission! But if look to God and do it for Him, then it liberates me. My heart is at peace because I am right with God. God will deal with my husband.
The solution has been to do my part and then pray for Edric. By God’s grace, Edric is a wise man and he loves God. But still, there are instances when we don’t agree on issues. So this is when I pray, “Lord, please speak to Edric. If he is wrong, then please change his heart, but if I am wrong then please change my heart.”
Years ago, I heard an amazing story about a woman who endured an abusive marriage. Her husband was a womanizer, he treated her like crap, he did drugs, but she still served him and treated him with respect. Years later, she found out that she never had a marriage contract to prove that she was actually married. Her “husband” had deceived her all these years. When my mom counseled her, she asked this woman if she regretted the years that she spent serving this man. She replied something like this, “I have no regrets because I never did it for him. I did it for the Lord.”
I was floored when I heard this! But she is not the only one that has this kind of story to tell. I have met amazing women who have followed God’s principles in faith and they have experienced his blessings. There is great power in the life of a woman who walks with God. 1 Peter 3:1-2 tells us that men who don’t believe in God can be won over by the behavior of their submissive wives, when they see their purity and reverence. It’s not the world’s way of solving marital issues, but God doesn’t do things conventionally. He asks us to trust and obey first, even if we don’t always understand. And then he does the miraculous!
Going back to my first story…
While our family helped the wonderful volunteers pack relief goods, the one thing they ran out of at the time we were there was canned goods! Sigh. If I had just listened we could have had more canned goods for the bags! Unfortunately, I lost that opportunity to exemplify to my kids that obedience leads to blessing!
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God’s way is for me to obey my husband and enjoy the blessings of following his design for marriage! May I do better next time. 😉