Saturday, May 30, 2009

Submission and the Flylady

Before I got married I remember hearing a teaching on submissiveness in marriage. The teacher said to think of your husband as holding a big umbrella. Over that umbrella is Christ, and under it is the husband and wife. The wife's task is to stay under the umbrella with her husband, by being submissive and respecting the husband as the spiritual leader. The exception would be if the husband was leading the wife down an immoral path, such as violating one of the Ten Commandments or another very clear command in the Bible.

So in the absence of immoral leadership, a wife should submit to her husband. While she does so, God protects her. As soon as she steps out from under the umbrella, God does not provide the same protective blessing. What I think this means is that if the husband does a really stupid thing and the wife stays submissive, the wife and children are protected from the worst of the consequences. As long as the entire umbrella picture looks like what God desires, the family by and large receives little discipline, and much grace and blessing. That's not to say they don't experience grief at the same rate as everyone else.

The leadership role does not give husbands license to be ridiculous, macho and oppressive. They must love their wives as Christ loved the church - they must exercise sacrificial love, which is very, very hard. Just as hard as submission is for the wife.

Remember Adam and Eve? One of Eve's punishments was that she would want to rule over her husband. So essentially, the relationship between husbands and wives is now conflicted, instead of Garden-of-Eden harmonious. Brilliant, God. This is one of the questions I'll have for you someday. Why does submission have to be so hard? Wasn't the pain in childbirth enough of a punishment for Eve?

If husbands and wives stay in the Bible and pray together (and alone), conflict stays at a minimum. But life gets busy and Satan uses that to make sure Bible and prayer get cut short, or even cut out on some days. Not wise, but it happens anyway, even to Pastoral families. The door to conflict is then opened and couples have to evaluate why things changed. Then, like an apple dropping on their heads, they suddenly get it. How many days has it been since we prayed together - read together?

If you got married in your mid-twenties like most women do, then submission isn't far from what you experienced under your parent's roof. Now me? I got married at the age of 33, which was two years after I became a Christian. Submission hasn't been my strong point; I left the roof of my parents at the age of 18. That's a lot of alone years. I'm not a difficult personality, or a "leaky faucet" terrorizing my husband, but I am stubborn.

I remember a three-part series a few years back about spiritual leadership and submission. The Pastor delivering it was full of humor, telling us how often he hears from husbands,"I WOULD lead, if she would LET me!" And from wives, "My husband won't lead. I remember more often than he does that we need to pray and study together, and lead the children in prayer and Bible Study."

Compounding the whole thing is that the running of the house is usually done by the woman, giving her a large domain over which she MUST succeed, for life to be tolerably comfortable for everyone. Running things for the majority of the day, only to have to switch gears the minute the husband comes through the door, is just plain hard. Doing it successfully, or even half so, takes daily reliance on God, with daily prayer.

And because women are more prone to introspection and to spirituality, taking control over all things that are spiritually related, including the direction the family takes in terms of outside commitments, and in terms of financial health, and daily prayer and study, is really hard for men. It doesn't come naturally for most, anymore than a gentle and quiet spirit comes naturally for women.

When you analyze it, I guess God wasn't so far off when he designed marriage. His design forces us to rely on him for every success. I realize much more now how my level of discipline towards being submissive absolutely affects my children and their own future abilities to either be submissive (girls) or take a spiritual lead (boys). It is up to Don and me to model this for them. Certainly they will have healthier marriages --and healthier children-- if they already have specific pictures in their minds as to what a Godly marriage look like.

As always, when changes need to occur, we start with ourselves, and a "change me" attitude, rather than a "change him" attitude. The Bible tells us that our husbands will be won over by our behavior:

1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."

And further, verses 3-5:
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

My thoughts turn to this topic because I feel off balance with this since Anna Grace was born. This week I've become even more aware of how my haphazard running of the house contributes to my lack of submission--lack of gentleness and quietness. My own disorganization makes me cranky and overwhelmed. I almost feel defeated an hour into the day, making it hard to put on a submissive, loving, quiet smile. Part of this feeling comes from being a perfectionist coupled with being spontaneous/disorganized. It's a lethal combo. I hope you aren't a fellow sufferer. lol

God has pointed these things out, and pointed me in the way of help. I'll be revisiting the Flylady, and the House Fairy (the Fairy helps children get organized) tutorials, which are invaluable in helping moms effectively run a house, including how to schedule for errands, paperwork, house blessing, etc. I keep forgetting how disorganized I am by nature. I'm a failure without a specific plan. What organized people can do in their sleep, I can only do when being intentional.

So what have YOU learned about submission since your wedding day? How have you disciplined yourself to follow, rather than to lead?

No comments: