Whenever I hear someone talking about submission, it’s usually a married Christian woman on a blog or something, describing how difficult it is for us women to practice following our husband’s lead (which it definitely is).
Don’t worry about me describing submission in marriage as a single person, if you are worried about me of all people doing that, because that’s not what I’m going to talk about…At least, it’s not going to be all I talk about right now. The fact women struggle with that is a deep truth. But that’s only a piece of what submission is.
Before you learn to submit to your husband in the Lord, you submit to your Lord primarily, prodigal daughter.
I call you (and myself) a prodigal because I sit here, throwing a bit of an internal tantrum against God. Not only do we disobey Him by showing snark to one another or feeding our brains garbage to shut off or put aside our pressing convictions, but we become prodigals when we make our own plans and our own fears gods. We end up living out a life under the authority of our own will and anxieties rather than God’s will.
Before we submit to anything else, prodigal sister (or brother), we need to submit to our God.
What does that look like?
As a girl, I tend to put submission in the “lessons-preparing-for-marriage” box. Plot twist: it’s not limited to marriage and my husband. It’s a lesson I can actively learn not for the sake of a future spouse or even my earthly authorities like parents and pastors. It’s something to actively learn in my relationship with Him who made me.
I’m still trying to understand it. The theme keeps just popping up over and over in my head and I didn’t think much why until I realized how deeply I am like my mother. No, not the mother who birthed me, but my great-great-great-great-great…great-grandmother, Eve. I have carried her shame in a multitude of ways, but I think a great shame I carry is this: I believe I drain life, and I doubt the goodness of God.
My sins are not limited to my eating the forbidden fruit. My sin is often found in an unholy terror of the wrong thing. Instead of healthily fearing God, I unhealthily fear not being happy, satisfied, at peace, or worth something bigger than I am at present. Like Eve, I think I’m extra special or unique when I decide to take on the role of my own head and authority (Genesis 3:4-7, 16). I think I’m protecting myself when I deviate towards my own plan constantly. But sometimes, I just blatantly work out of refusal to submit to what God already told me is true.
I blatantly work out of the fear of man, myself, and evil, rather than properly-placed fear of the Lord.
I blatantly work out of wanting to belong somewhere.
I blatantly work out of satisfying and doting on my emotions and fears (not to be confused with healthily managing them).
It took submission to get to this desk and decide I could write this instead of a “fall blog tag”, and it took submission to get me to write especially after not-so-prettily snapping at people and crying for selfish reasons fueled by worry. I have little grace for myself right now, so this first draft may not always be gentle to me. [editing sidenotw: I see my need for help in not bringing judgement that belongs to God alone on myself. I have a bit more patience right now than I did earlier. Blah. Life is a slow growth process and I’m grateful for His grace tonight.]
This kind of submission however, is not out of anxiety and frustration as much as I’m waiting to see what God is doing when I can’t see even a spark of logic (though I definitely have my worries and frustrations on the brain when I pen this). This sitting and typing something I may not be happy typing is my searching and expectancy over what God promises He’ll show: redemption. This may not make sense to write in the moment, but God is not a God of human sense. He makes sense in His own way, and we will see it soon. In the moment of lacking understanding, I need to submit in obedience and wait for what He says is coming out of it.
Why can’t I get this in my head?
Moreover, why do I allow Satan to belittle me for my failures, rather than move forward?
Fearing I’m a draining person and feeling like God is holding out on me is a lie or at least a truth twisted. But He always redeems such a lie with the full and hopeful truth.
I noticed in Genesis 3, that it’s not until after the Fall of man that Adam decides to name Eve. Her name sounds similar to the Hebrew word for “life” because “she would be the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20-21)
I asked a pastor about this in a study and he responded that firstly, Adam does this probably out of practicality, explaining to Eve that she will bear children (and perhaps, I speculate, in further blaming her for taking the fruit, saying humanity carries all shame from her). But I think it’s a double-meaning.
Because Eve is also part of the family line of Christ. And it’s not because of anything she did right.
That’s the removal of the shame, and both Adam and Eve are told this in Genesis 3:15, with the promise of the serpent being crushed through their offspring.
I’m taken from the shame of being draining and easily swayed by my sins and feelings to redemption. God promises healing. He promises to take me somewhere better than I can see in this life. And Eve never even fully would know how God was going to crush this same shame.
So here I sit, post-tears, in my shame, and God’s saying to take heart while I write. He’s saying it’s time to leave my will with Him, let Him hold things, and go forward in obedience, even if I don’t see the salvation amid the goodbyes and confusion over things I don’t have.
This isn’t terribly light, but shame and redemption are never light. They are not easy, but the process is beautiful and worth it. The only way forward is by letting my will come under my Father’s.
Will you choose to believe He loves you, even if it hurts horribly or terrifies you to step towards? It will not be unbearable for long. You’ll be surprised how much He allows you to find joy when everything is feeling senseless.
Submission requires trust, and you will not be left to figure that out alone, nor expected to practice that wonderfully always. If you were expected to always perfectly submit in this life, the story of Adam and Eve and Christ’s death and resurrection would not be included in the Bible. You are expected to trust God. Sometimes we need to submit to His perfection and admittance of our weakness, in order for Him to teach us how to submit in our daily practice.
It’s beautiful to see the imagery of submission in a marriage, because like a husband loves and protects his wife, God is intimate and guarding our vulnerable hearts when we bear them to Him, prodigal brothers and sisters.
- Genesis 3 (This passage kept popping up all over the place this week in my life and I found so many things I hadn’t noticed before in it. Dwell on it with me.)
- “From Life-Taker to Life-Giver with Karen Hodge” (podcast episode 62 from the Journeywomen Podcast)
- Jackie Hill Perry’s teaching, “The Fall” (in which she speaks on this passage and how we secretly tend to live like God is a liar, even if we won’t admit we believe that lie)
- This instagram post by my friend Rosalie (a peep at the description [which you ought to go read in full!]:)
…But then he took me by the hand, despite everything, and guided me step by step back to him…
- ♪ “Runaway” by Jess Ray (the song I immediately thought of when I was reading Rosalie’s post)
- The new Gray Havens album, She Waits (favorite tracks so far: “Not Home Yet,” and “She Waits”. I love the themes of this album and the album cover makes my artist heart happy.)
Grace upon grace out here in the Midwest, and I’m weirdly glad this is my first blog post from my new room. I have a nice desk and lots to be thankful for. This is definitely not the fall blog tag I expected to do, but perhaps another day soon I will do that. Here’s to a late-night blogging, the beginning of autumn, and transitioning into a season sure to be full of hard times and good, sweet grace. Blessings, prodigals.
Come home and trust His kingship, frens,