Years ago, when Dre and I were just dating I asked him “Babe, do I try to wear the pants in this relationship?” to which he replied “Tuh! You got on the pants, some Timberland boots AND a construction belt!” (insert facepalm). It’s safe to say most wouldn’t categorize me as “submissive” by nature. I can laugh about this now, but at the time it honestly made me feel bad. I’ve always wanted to be seen as a strong woman, but in no way wanted to appear like I was trying to be the man in the relationship. Of course, I want my husband to feel like I respected him as the man of the family. But where do I start? How do I make this shift?
Do I REALLY want to submit? What does that look like? I don’t even know how to submit.
The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. Ex: “They were forced into submission”
See that part right there. You think I’m about to let anybody FORCE me into anything?! Somebody done told you wrong! To me, submission meant weak. No backbone. Letting people walk all over you. And I’m not about that life. So, for the first few years of our marriage, I was in battle with my husband. Not about anything in particular. I just generally refused to feel like I was being FORCED into anything. I had to make myself heard. Seen. Noticed.
I’m not sure when or why this started with me, but as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been very strong-willed. I’m small in stature (5’2 to be exact) so I’ve always made it a point not to be pushed around or bullied by anyone (and y’all know they tried it). I’m not one to start confrontation, but I most definitely am the one to finish it. I remember being in about the 3rdgrade and as a class we were lining up for a picture. My least favorite phrase comes out “line up from shortest to tallest”. Deep sigh. Of course, the class laughs and one of the tallest boys in class yells out “Welp, Tierra get to the front of the line!” I remember feeling like I had something to prove. Like I had to make people respect me. (Put some respeck my name!)
And then one day, a couple of years back I was leading a bible study group and one of the books we were covering for the season was 1 Peter by Jen Wilkinson. As I flipped through the book to see what we would be discussing over the next few weeks I noticed not 1, not 2, but 3 whole weeks on guess what: SUBMISSION (side eye emoji). My first thought: how can I get out of being present those three weeks because Lord knows I can’t lead anybody on submission. That ain’t my area of expertise! I really wanted to no parts of it.
But thank God I didn’t. This study really changed my entire perspective on submission. Jen Wilkinson opens up the weeks on submission and jumps right in asking what we currently think of the word submission. What does it look like? Dress like? Act like? What I learned was God had a very different definition of submission than I did. By God’s definition, submission for wives is an act of faith: faith that God is working through her husband to accomplish what is best for her. So, in reality, my refusal to submit to my husband is really me refusing to submit to God. Mind. Blown.
Fast forward a few months from then to a trip Dre and I took to Phoenix, Arizona. We were hiking up Camelback Mountain and were having a disagreement over who should be in front. I wanted him to go first but he wanted me in front. At one point he finally walked ahead of me and as we were navigating this unknown territory it hits me: THIS IS HOW I NEED MY HUSBAND TO LEAD ME! I need him to go before me and lay out the way so that I can follow in his footsteps. Now I’m mad. “See?! He should just lead me this way.” Our lives would be so much easier if he would just lead the way I want him to. Yes, I can hear it now too lol but at the time you couldn’t tell me I was wrong. But a great friend of ours gave me a new perspective: what if Dre wants me to go first because that’s how he feels he can protect me best. Mind. Blown. Again.
Just because it doesn’t look like what I think it should, doesn’t mean it isn’t for my good. Ultimately, I have to trust God enough to know that the husband HE gave me is more than capable of leading me and our family in his own way. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever disagree or I no longer have an opinion about things, but it does change the way I view our differences. I used to feel like I had to battle him to the death (not literally lol but ya’ll know what I mean). But now I realize we are playing for the same team, and even when we may not agree on how to accomplish it, the goal is the same: to make the best decisions for our family together. It also doesn’t mean my husband won’t ever get it wrong. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. But instead of making it known that he’s wrong (and if I’m being perfectly honest the petty in me would hope he would get it wrong so I could say I told you so, don’t judge me ya’ll im a work in progress lol) I instead aim to first pray that we are on the same page, and then pray that God leads him in the right direction. That’s been the key for me, instead of praying for God to fix my husband, I had to start praying for God to fix me. I’m still not perfect, but the last time I asked Dre if I still try to wear the pants in the relationship he said I’m wearing Bermuda shorts now. Better, right?!
If you’re like me and you’re having a hard time with submission, pray this prayer over yourself today, “God, I need your help. I’m really struggling with submission and I know I can’t figure out a solution on my own. I pray that you will show me what to do. I’m listening, Lord. Help me to be receptive to your answer and to trust that you have all my best interests at heart. And help me remember that I’m not alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”