This is, by far, the most important concept I have ever understood, and I hope I do it justice in the way I present it here.
In both my relationship with God and in my marriage, I believe in submission. Nothing is more important in my life than understanding the importance of obedience. I am not number one in my life, or in any aspect of the world.
This starts with the Creator. Proverbs 3:5-6 makes it pretty clear that we don't have to understand God's plan, we just have to agree to trust Him. This often contradicts my earthly will - particularly in my daily prayer hour. Boredom and household duties often tempt me to spend time away from prayer. I got a great email this week from my friend Lizzie, offering encouragement in dedicating to prayer time. "I was given a word by my husband this week to press through being obedient to prayer if I don't feel like it, just like how we would brush our teeth or shower when we don't feel like it. The Lord revealed to me how dedicated and thorough I am in my brushing my teeth, but how quick I can be to slack off in prayer."
Our God is a beyond sufficient provider, and will not leave us in need. All He asks of us is an obedience to Him in return. We don't have to agree with His will. We just have to submit to it.
Submission is an intimidating word because of the social stigma in our post-sexual revolution culture. We dare not give up our personal freedoms to compromise to anyone - the generation before mine burned many bras and marched many miles to free me from submission. No offense to the feminist movement, but to me, submission is nothing to hide from. To me, submission is the manifestation of trust. That's the most important part, so let's repeat. Submission is the manifestation of trust. There is nothing compromising or oppressive about the intimacy of a trusting relationship. There is only love and security there.
From 2/26 in my journal: Within my marriage, let me embody respect for my husband and his calling to lead our family. Let me know that submission is not a form of oppression, but a showing of trust in the plans Zach has for us. The more I show him this respect, the more his heart will desire to love me to my deepest needs. When I fail to submit to my husband, I am showing him that I don't respect him or trust him as a leader. There are times that Zach is wrong, but it is not my responsibility to place blame or take authority. I pray for him earnestly, follow him faithfully, and let him recognize the mistake in his own time. He is a good-willed leader that wants the best for our family, and I trust he will make that happen. I have never had a prayer for Zach's heart that wasn't answered in a matter of days.
I think this is what it means to love someone else more than you love yourself. I have so much trust in Zach that I would rather see his needs met first, and know that he'll take care of mine in return. A year ago, we couldn't stop arguing because I was so afraid that if I gave in, he'd walk all over me. I honestly thought I needed to drive my point into his brain or he wouldn't get it.
Zach's a more intelligent man than this. He knows me, and knows my priorities and interests. Since I've stopped the nagging, he's actually been more responsive to my wants. We realized today it's been a long time since we've had a real argument. We still get snappy with each other, and then we improve our moods and apologize. There's no tension in our home anymore. We're living with joy in our marriage, and no longer just surviving the days in it. I've never found him more attractive.
I read the Five Love Languages book by Dr. Gary Chapman before understanding the submission concept. It gives its reader the opportunity to understand both his own and his spouse's "love language" - the way they prefer to show and receive love. The five love languages are: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Confirmation, Physical Touch and Gifts. Zach's is acts of service. Mine is physical touch. Nothing is more cozy to me than cuddling on the couch and watching a movie. Nothing is more comforting than being hugged when I'm upset. Before the submission concept revolutionized our marriage, I came to understand that I would feel more loved if Zach would spend more time with me in physical touch. I made efforts to meet his needs for acts of service, and just could not understand what kind of heartless husband would refuse to meet his wife halfway. I used to count the days since I last received the touch I desired, and would hold the count against Zach as a proof of spousal neglect. We had many, many fights over this and I shed many, many tears over it.
I realized a few days ago it's been weeks, if not at least a month, since I've received the cuddle time I would consider sufficient for my physical touch needs. And yet, I've never felt more loved. Although my love language is not gifts, I feel so loved when Zach brings me home a Dr. Pepper because he had to stop at the gas station and knows how much I love fountain drinks. My love language isn't acts of service, but I know he loves me when he does the dishes because I've been complaining about my back hurting. My love language isn't quality time, but I feel so treasured when he gets a babysitter for Carson so he can take me to a baseball game and relax together. I mean no disrespect toward Dr. Chapman's ideas, I'm sure they've been a blessing to other marriages. In my marriage, however, I didn't need any help identifying how I wanted to be loved. I needed help identifying how he already loves me.
Read "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. Before opening the book, spend some time in prayer and ask God to help quiet the selfish cultural voice in each of us. Ask Him for revelation in His design of our psychology and how we interact as a result. Mostly, ask Him for help in planting the seed of submission, and that it bloom something beautiful for you.