In the midst of the after-dinner craziness in my house, I’ve apparently decided that now is the time to try and find a moment to write this.
I cringe inside as I begin to write. I cringe not because of the topic, the word itself, or what it means. I cringe at what you’ll assume it means. I fear that some will read this and be combative (because after all, it’s 2016 and this is the internet). But my soul is yearning to share my story, and so I will share (and still cringe a little).
The “s” word. I remember after our wedding ceremony that a few people approached me about this word being in my ceremony:
They wondered, “Does she realize what she just agreed to?”. My answer? A then-naive 23 year old said “yes”. A now-slightly-less-than-naive 33 year old says “I had no idea!” (Ah, newlywed bliss).
I asked my Pastor for a copy of a wedding vow template, and he surprised me today when he emailed me a copy of our exact vows from 10 years ago. I was thrilled that he saved them. I’m sure I made the effort to, but those were probably lost on a hard drive that crashed 7 years ago. Or perhaps lost in the void of a well-intentioned scrapbook, or just plunged into a box and lost in the shuffle of life.
Here is what I vowed before God to do:
“I Kaytlin, take thee Stephen, to be my lawfully wedded husband;
To live together, according to the will and Word of God;
I will love you; Respect you; submit to you in the Lord;
and will be a helpmeet for you; In all the labors of life;
In sickness and in health; In adversity and in prosperity;
And will keep myself to you only; So long as we both shall live”.
As I was saying those vows I pictured a variety of circumstances that would bring life to those words. A movie of possible life events played in my imagination as I made my promises.
When we said our marriage vows 10 years ago, I already made the decision to submit my life to God and to Stephen. I had no desire to go to Japan. I chose to move to the other side of the world without actually having a desire to do so. I trusted that if God was drawing us to marriage, that God would give me a heart for Japan. And I can loudly exclaim that He has.
It has taken me 10 years to truly learn to submit to my husband (and continue to learn, like over and over). Prior to these past few years, I would argue that I did submit to his authority in our home. What I said and what I actually did were very different things. My idea of submission was to give him 100 reasons why we should make a certain decision then to do my very best to persuade him in every way possible until he saw my way. Manipulation is not submission. Persuasion is not submission.
Ephesians 5:21-24 (ESV)
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
There were many, many circumstances in 2015 and 2016 that tested my belief in submission. From my standpoint, we faced a very stressful job loss right before Christmas when our baby was a few months old. We had no idea where our insurance would come from (and as I type this, we are yet again unsure what our health insurance will be in the next few days). Our transition to the mission field has literally been one big question mark at times. Yet through it all my husband has been optimistic, calm, and a rock of stability. I worked so hard at trusting his authority for the major life decisions we faced. Without arguing. Without manipulation. Without persuasion. I am so thankful that I did! Stephen sought God’s plan for our household, and I trusted Stephen (and the Lord to show Stephen) the next steps.
God is merciful and patient with me as He shows me the blessing of submission. Oh, this world makes it so ugly. I made the mistake of looking for a heading image for this post on google. I do NOT invite you to do the same, but when I typed in submission many ugly photos were littered on my browser. How has the world made such a beautiful thing so ugly? Sin has made submission look grotesque and made women feel degraded and devalued. I can personally say that Biblical submission is beautiful and breathtaking. Is it always easy? Not in a million years. Do I swallow my pride? Yes. But, I am thankful that God is using this time of transition to strengthen our marriage and giving Stephen the rightful authority in our household before we make this move overseas.