Last week German and I were visiting with a friend from church. He and his wife had been tasked with preaching on the marriage passage in Ephesians 5. He asked us the most interesting question: "What does submission and love look like around the kitchen table?" he went on to explain that he grew up in a church tradition that emphasised submission that was very external but when he visited homes it was obvious 'who wore the trousers' and he found the whole display very hypocritical. He didn't want 'Sunday School answers' but real practicality of how these verses impacted lives.
We had an interesting discussion about collaboration and final decisions and using each others strengths. We used examples of how German truly knows he can accept a job relocation just about anywhere because he knows I will follow, but at the same time he knows some of the places that I would need more time to process or accept. Because of his love for me, I trust that he would give me ample input into those kind of decisions.
Although the discussion was good, or maybe because it was good, it has stayed with me. How does it look at my kitchen table? Several times this week I have wondered if this was really submission as many people would surmise, or if it was going through the motions? I am able to follow German's lead without submitting. Submitting is a heart issue and often I will say and do the right thing and be telling myself that I am right and I am only doing this because I am being a good wife. Just following his direction is not enough. It is about my heart recognising his God-given place as the head of this family. It is about bending my internal thought processes as well as my external actions. It is about not harbouring ill thoughts when his ultimate decision is not my first choice. For me, submission is so much more about intent than action.
I am blessed that I have a husband who truly strives to love me in an Ephesians five way. He does seek my opinion. He values what I have to say. His first priority is to serve God and then to serve his family. That makes submitting to his leadership so much easier. But that does not make it easy. I still have to daily, and some days multiple times, ask God to help me submit to German. I still want my way. I am still obstinate, opinionated, selfish and difficult. Yet through all of that he loves me, and I love him, so we find a way to follow God together.
What does submission look like at our kitchen table? It is healthy discussion. It is sometimes disagreeing. Sometimes there are tears. Often there is laughter. It is not being a simpering yes-wife, nor is it being a constant nag. It is being a supportive help-meet and trusting his love.
So, what does submission look like at your kitchen table?
For others' interpretation of submission in marriage, visit Chrysalis Cafe.