Sometimes a conversation starts and you think you know where it is going, and then it surprises you and takes a turn you did not expect... I had one of those this morning. I was flipping through a magazine I recently subscribed to while sitting at the kitchen table having coffee and chatting with my husband. I was reading him snippets of articles that were interesting... All written by mothers and wives seeking to be women of virtue, and I came across that dreaded word you don't hear so much in association with marriage these days..."obey". I turned the page and said something to the effect of "what an old fashioned chauvinistic way of thinking". And my sweet and wise husband who normally would not plunge into these deep waters without first thinking said, "But look how happy they are. Look at their families, how simply they live. I'm no chauvinist, but there is something to be said for those 'old fashioned' values." Whoa. I was NOT expecting that.
So I took a deep breath and tentatively stepped into the water with him. I asked him to elaborate. He said he felt our family had no clear leader... That maybe I (really? me?) was not really willing to submit to anyone else's authority. And I said, "so you are saying I am not a submissive wife?" (I think he may have held back a chuckle here, I can't be sure) Now, I should clarify that he was not suggesting that I not have an opinion, or a voice, or that I shouldn't have some authority in our home.. I knew exactly what he meant. I did not have to think long before I saw the reason... It is impossible to be submissive and defensive at the same time. And I am carrying some baggage that causes me to fear giving anyone else the ability to take advantage of me, fear that I will lose my voice, and ultimately myself (again) so I defend. I stand tall and strong and pretend to be in charge. And he lets me because he is gentle and patient, and to some degree understands the why behind it all. I had fooled myself into thinking this was working for us until this morning. I am thankful he was vulnerable enough to say what was in his heart, though it raised some questions I have turned over in my mind all day.
As I said, these are deep waters, and I am not really able to articulate all that is floating around in my head just yet... But I know that this is one area God and I will be doing some work on. Or, I guess I should say, I will "submit" to whatever work God chooses to do in me. (See? I really do like to be in charge.) I don't like the fact that God keeps holding up that mirror of truth and letting me see the ugliness still within, but at least in His mercy He usually just gives me one area at a time to deal with. So, I guess this is "goodbye, control freak" and "hello sweet virtuous and lovely submissive wife". Oh my. This will not be a quick fix, I fear! But true beauty is never easy... It always starts on the inside, right? Too bad there isn't a 7-day herbal cleanse for this kind of stuff! I am very thankful God gave me ears to hear my husband's heart this morning. Now it is time to do something about it. When I figure out what, exactly, I will probably write about that. For now, I am just praying for a softer, more trusting heart and for the grace to grow into a wife that truly honors God. A pretty good place to start, I think.