I am not looking to start a debate here about being a submissive wife. I’m also not about to tell you what, exactly, it should look like. For safety sake, I will tell you what it DOES NOT look like: being abused is not being submissive – it’s being abused. If your husband is being abusive in any way in the name of God and “being a godly head of the house” he is not following God’s idea of submission and I beg you to get away and get help.
My husband and I, like most married couples, are very different. He is calm and stoic. I am highly emotional and, ehem, dramatic. He is logical. I am impulsive. He has amazing traits that balance my not-so-great ones, and I likewise have some good traits that balance his not-so-great ones. I absolutely love being married to him. I love his wisdom and logic. I am consistently amazed by his character. He is an incredible guy.
A few years ago, I attended a Precept Bible study called, “A Marriage Without Regrets” and I saw through the Word of God how much responsibility my husband carries in the eyes of God. I also saw that submission is God’s idea and it does not mean I am less. It means I trust my husband’s lead and, as his equal, I choose to follow.
But. This doesn’t mean I’m good at this submission thing. No one really is. Part of the curse that came from the fall of man was that women will want to rule. We want to be in charge. I never thought that was true of myself, but my struggle with giving up control tells me otherwise. I remember our sweet teacher in that class once said, “If you think you’re ok with being submissive, either you’re not being honest, or your husband isn’t leading and giving you areas to be submissive in.” I thought long and hard about that. I was one of those, “Pffft. This chapter is easy for me, neeext!” types. But was I really ok with submission?
Turns out…sometimes. Sometimes I have been known to get in a heated discussion with the Mr. and instead of hearing his logic and trusting his wisdom, I rant and I stomp…and sometimes I get my way. And a lot of times when I get my way, I quite honestly get us in a pickle.
Like when I decided I wanted an xtracyle bike. Mr. didn’t think it was a good choice at that time, financially, but I threw out some silly comment like, “Dream Killer” and a few weeks later, I got my way. I love my crazy bike and we get a lot of use out of it. But the timing wasn’t right. Mr Riehl knew and now we set ourselves back from where we want to be financially. In that case, I should have listened, cooled down, followed his lead instead of my emotions. But I didn’t. I see the error of that situation and I have been trying to pay better attention since. But sometimes situations sneak up on me.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked if I would be able to babysit her son a few days a week. I immediately agreed…and almost just as immediately had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I wanted so badly to help this single mama out, and also realized that by doing so I would lose most of my allotted time to write. I lost sleep the next few nights over that decision. Surely I was doing the right thing by helping someone out, so why was I so churned up inside?
One morning soon I met my dad for coffee and told him about my sleepless nights and how silly I felt for being concerned that I wouldn’t have time to write. He said two pretty crucial things to me in response: 1.”You’ve committed to write these books for the Lord and I don’t think you should let yourself get too busy to hold that commitment and 2. “What does your husband say?” I had to admit I hadn’t asked Mr. about the situation at all.
I went home and my amazing husband had cleaned the house while I was gone. I sat down in our freshly vacuumed living room and asked him what he thought about my agreement. He took a deep breath and answered, “Honestly? I don’t think you should do this.” He also encouraged that I needed to focus on writing and as he tried to remind me how important it is to admit that I’m on an unspoken deadline, my publisher pulled into the drive-way.
Mr. hadn’t mentioned he was coming by. We welcomed him in, offered him coffee, and he presented a new contract to sign: one that makes it possible for my book to be sold in book stores (something the publishing company is working on). He also let me know that The Earth is Full had been entered into a contest and had won 3rd place for both cover and layout…and 2nd place for best new Idaho Author of 2013. I was shocked. He went on to tell me that we would meet (Mr., myself and the NCC Publishing team) that week for an awards dinner. We took happy pictures, chatted for a while, the publisher assured me that they want the rest of my Child of Deliverance Series.
When he left, I looked at my husband in amazement. He had kept the news a secret from me for quite a while. We realized that the first day I had agreed to babysit was the same night as the awards dinner. I let my friend know that I was sorry, but that my plate was really too full and I wouldn’t be able to babysit for her. When that was finished, Mr. cleared his throat and said, “I want to ask you something without you feeling like I’m trying to be your dad or something.”
I felt my shoulders stiffen slightly. Pride. It’s ugly, isn’t it?
“I think it would be a good idea for you to run things by me before you agree to them. Just because I see logic where you sometimes only see emotion.”
I inhaled slowly. This was one of those moments. One of those “I can agree or I can balk”. I sank back into the couch in relief. “Babe, I don’t feel like you’re being ‘my dad’ at all. I’m thankful that you’re willing to look out for me. Thank you.”
A long silly story, I realize. But one I wanted to document so I don’t forget how secure I feel in this place. This place of submission where my husband has asked something of me for my sake.
And isn’t that how it is when we submit to the Lord? Although in that case, we are less and He is so much more. But, He asks us to submit for our own sake. Not only because He is deserving of it, but because surrender to God is the only place where we are truly safe and secure.