Life was unbelievably good. I knew I was loved, I was sharing the good news of God’s love with others, and I saw friends begin their own journey to freedom as they heard my story.
I spent just about every morning, coffee in hand, on BibleGateway.com and StudyLight.org reading and studying God’s word. It was absolutely fabulous learning about so many different aspects of God, His love, and His plans and provisions for His children. In December I was studying the book of Hebrews and was intrigued by the idea of Jesus submitting to His Father when He was here on earth as a man.
I went all through the New Testament looking at every place I could find where “submit” was used in relation to Jesus and discovered it was something He chose to do out of love for and trust in His Father. It wasn’t demanded of Him; rather, He freely chose to submit. The salvation that God brought about for any who choose to accept it, the freedom from slavery to any kind of bondage we might experience, and the abundance of real life that He purchased on our behalf – because He submitted to His Father’s ways – is beyond my comprehension.
I wonder if you can imagine the punch in the gut I got when I came to the verses that say wives need to submit to their husbands! I should have anticipated that I would come to those verses in any study on submission. I should have seen it coming, but I was so caught up in the beauty of Jesus’ relationship with His Father that I must have figured it would be a different word or something when it’s talking about husbands and wives. I’m not sure. But I still remember the devastating feeling. Honestly, it felt like a really good sucker punch to the gut. Here I was on this 3 month ride of love and beauty and new beginnings – and then “Submit, Susan.” Worse than that. “Submit to Tim.”
For those of you who don’t know him, I can tell you with all assurance that Tim is a great husband. I’ve never doubted his love for me; he is kind-hearted, generous and understanding. But I sat at the computer that morning and cried. You see, having been victimized as a child I have not a single submissive gene in my body. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do. To this day, I will only let God be the boss of me and that only because He worked a miracle in my soul and loved me to the point of death. Even if I wanted to (which I don’t) I am incapable of submitting myself to anyone for the long-run; temporarily – if I have no choice; but for something as long-term as marriage, there’s not a chance.
And so I cried. I cried because I knew God was asking me to, and I cried because there was no way on His green earth that I would ever be able to do it. I was completely incapable.
I told Him I was sorry. I told Him I even wished maybe I could just for Him, but I couldn’t so we would have to leave that there.
Throughout January life continued on. Mostly it was great; in fact the only two places that were less than fabulous were my marriage and my relationship with my mom. I found it ironic that in my most important and most foundational earthly relationships I could see old patterns and habits from so many previous years hanging on. In so many ways, my perspectives, attitudes, and enjoyment of life were completely new. Life had been infused into me by the Author of Life Himself. Yet, in my marriage and in my attitude toward my mom there were still elements of the old ways – self-deprecation, anger, frustration, hopelessness and other feelings that clearly communicated an absence of God’s life and beauty experienced in so many other facets of life.
I speculated that perhaps there wasn’t much change in me after all. If my fundamental relationships were just the same as before God did all these incredible things, then any significant change in other relationships or areas of life didn’t really count for much… If God has truly brought life to someone, then I presumed it would affect every area of life, not just the periphery. There were a few times when Tim would reassure me that, yes, he did see compelling change in me and whatever it was going on between he and I, God would help us to figure it out.
I wanted to have an incredibly good marriage; I wanted to be able to love and “bless” my Mom ["There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers…” from Proverbs 30:11. As I read through that section of Proverbs, it wasn’t the group I wanted to be lumped in with!]. Instead, my marriage was merely “fine” and I was definitely not “blessing” my mom. There was minimal to no change in these primary relationships.
Sometimes in order to bring wholeness or healing we need an old wound cleansed before the healing ointment is applied. More often than not, that cleaning generates a lot of pain. It’s just as well I didn’t see what was coming…