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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marriage Monday - What does Submission in Christian Marriage Look Like?

Today I'm linking up with e-Mom over at Chrysalis for another Marriage Monday...today's topic is a very controversial one... submission in Christian marriage. Many people misunderstand this biblical principle and the word 'submission' is like some kind of profanity and not to be uttered.

In fact, it wasn't until very late in my own marriage that I even heard about this principle. By then, I had already unwittingly started to apply some of its elements to my own marriage, but as I learned more about it, I came to understand more about myself and what I had done wrong and how to correct the patterns of behaviour, destroy the well of resentment and improve the application of submission to my marriage.

Looking back, my mother 'submitted' to my father all of the time. She never argued with him, she never contradicted him...even when he was clearly wrong. He called the shots on everything in our household and we grew up seeing our mother always allowing my father control over everything.  I now know that her way of 'submission' wasn't really what its all about...it was more a way of keeping the peace, but at what expense?

Even though she never stood up to him or contradicted him, she was very vocal in her criticisms of his behaviour when he wasn't around. Unfortunately, she said it all in front of us children and it exacerbated our already brimming cup of resentment. It was clear that she didn't agree with him, didn't respect him, despite the outward show and this just added to the gap in emotional distance between us and him. I learned later on as an adult that it undermined my own respect for her as well, as I believed that she allowed things to happen in our household that could have been prevented if she had spoken up, took a stand for justice.

So what is submission exactly?

If you examine Ephesians 5:22-24  "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

I believe that the key to our submission in marriage lies in our submission to Christ.  What does it mean to submit to God?  For me, submission to God looks like this:  surrendering control of  my life to Him. Trusting Him with my needs, my problems and looking to Him for guidance, to lead me in all situations in my life. Tough to do!  Its a constant battle to relinquish my desire to plan and control what happens in my life, but I find that as I do, He gives me the necessary graces to apply the principles of biblical submission to my marriage as well.

What does submission in marriage look like? 

I believe that submission may look different in each marriage. Some husbands, like my own, may be more willing to listen to their wives ideas. Some may be willing to leave a lot of the decision-making to their wives, some not. Some don't need to control every aspect of the household, some do. Some wives are not required to submit blindly, but their husbands ask for their opinions and input.

Here's what I think. As women we are called to allow our husbands to be the heads of our home. Our jobs are to be their second in command, if you will. We are called to support them in decision-making and stand by them.   St Paul says we wives must submit to our husbands as the church submits to Christ. What exactly does that look like? Does that mean that we have no voice? Does it mean that we are to meekly go along with everything, never disagree with them or have ideas to submit?  I don't believe so.

I don't believe that God intended for us as women to submit to injustice or violence. I don't believe that he granted us with intelligence for no reason either. We have great ideas sometimes and we also have been granted the gift of 'women's intuition'. We see things in a light that our husbands don't. Our input is often vital. Our husbands are not always going to be right about everything...like everyone else, they're human and imperfect.  Sometimes our intervention is necessary. The key is to give our husbands the respect they need in our communication.

Throughout the early years of my marriage I noticed that whenever I disagreed with my husband he would get annoyed with me...that got my back up alot. I'd already come from a household where I'd had no voice at all...my father treated us girls and my mother as if we didn't have a clue about anything and couldn't possibly have an opinion to offer.  Eventually, I did like my mother and stopped having anything to say...which, of course, caused a well of resentment to begin inside me.  It took me many years to realise that the problem wasn't in my opinions but in the delivery of them.

 After reading Dr Emerson Eggerich's book "Love and Respect", I understood that my husband felt that I didn't respect him or value him because of the way that I spoke to him. I've seen many wives speak in disrespectful and degrading ways to their husbands in front of others. While I don't think I've ever done that intentionally, I know there have been a few times, especially in the early days, when I didn't choose my words carefully enough.

Ephesians 5:33 "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."   This is the biblical quotation that Dr Eggerich used to base his principle of love and respect. Basically he says that men need respect like they need air to breathe. So how do we submit as St Paul says we must do and yet disagree with our husbands?

First rule...not in front of others, especially our children.  When we want to disagree with our husbands we have to make sure we aren't undermining their authority or unmanning them in front of others.

Next is the delivery.  We need to make sure that our husbands understand that we believe in them and will support them, but in this particular instance, we disagree and give them our reasons. Tone is important as is timing.  If you choose to talk to your husband when he's tired, hungry (they don't say a hungry man is an angry man for nothing!) or distracted, you're already racking up some points against yourself.  My advice is to pray first, choose your words carefully and be as grace-giving as you can in your delivery.

Prayer is vital!  I have read on other blogs this quotation "You are not your husband's Holy Spirit". I agree with this, but I also know that there are times when God will use me to gently nudge my husband in the right direction. I share what I'm learning from the Holy Spirit ...I'm not forcing things down my husband's throat and I'm certainly not taking away his leadership role, but I will suggest things that I think we could do or change and I know that my  husband is always willing to listen. Sometimes I back down when I think that I may overstep my boundaries and pray instead that God will lead my husband to the right decision.

This happens very often with our children. Firstly, we have daughters and daughters can be a challenge for a father who doesn't always understand their moodiness etc. (Honestly my husband is a saint-in-training living with four menstruating women...one of whom is probably heading for peri-menopause soon!) Often times I sort of bridge the gap.

What happens if we believe our husbands are wrong about something?  We pray!! We ask the Holy Spirit to convict him and to help him to see the light. Of course, we must first be certain that WE aren't the ones who are wrong.

I praise God that my husband is willing to listen to my ideas and opinions and willing to discuss things with me. This is what I believe the correct balance should look like in a marriage. St Paul says in Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." 

I believe that the love and respect thing works both ways and that is what biblical submission should look like. Husbands love your wives, wives respect your husbands.... a husband who loves his wife should also respect her as a person, acknowledge her capabilities and knowledge and be willing to consider them and compromise if necessary. Wives must respect their husbands as the head of the home...in doing so she can give love and grace to him. In the end, we are called to give our husbands the final decisions...that is what it means to be submissive.

It isn't always easy to be submissive when you're a strong-willed, independent person and you like to be in control or take charge. Over time, however, if we submit ourselves first to God, He will give us the necessary graces to rein in our own desires. In fact, as I have journeyed closer with the Lord, the Holy Spirit often strikes a blow to my pride and I am laid bare. Where in the past I wouldn't want to apologize because I KNEW I was right...I now HAVE to because He has made me see that it is the right thing to do.

Linking to:

Friday, February 10, 2012

5 Minute Friday - Trust

Its Friday again! I really enjoy linking up with Lisa Jo for five minutes of writing from the heart...check out the link to join in.  This week our prompt is:

TRUST... a simple little five letter word that holds a wealth of meaning.

When I put my hand in yours.... when I said 'I do'... it was because I trusted you...with my heart, with my future, with my life.

When I was pregnant with our first child... I was a child myself... afraid of the future, but I trusted you to take care of us.

When I made that big decision to give up my job and be a full time mom...I trusted you would provide.

All through the years... 22 of them in all... there was a trust that we were in this together... forever

Sometimes trusting was hard... my own weak flesh and the insecurities that would arise yet we prevailed.

Broken and remade in the image of Christ... trust is more beautiful and stronger, when God is the third strand in the chord.

I TRUST YOU WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE AND MY HEART...  for however long God chooses to keep us here on this earth.

ONE WEEK UNTIL MY 22ND ANNIVERSARY AND I'M WOOING MY HUBBY WITH WORDS...cause sometimes we have to do the pursuing.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marriage Monday - Escape

Do you know the 'Pina Colada' Song?  It is actually called Escape and  was an early 80's hit by Rupert Holmes. Basically, its about a man who's got the 'seven year itch' in his relationship with his wife and decides to  respond to a personal ad in the paper. The lady in the ad sounds really interesting and he's captivated and decides to meet her. Who should it be...but his very own lady! Its a very cute story (setting aside the intention to commit infidelity of course). Check out the lyrics here.

Today at Chrysalis, e-Mom is linking us up with this topic  for Marriage Monday:

Tell us how you've exercised your God-given creativity to renew the intimacy and romance in your relationship.

I really look forward to reading what everyone has contributed...click on the link above to check it out.

Like, the couple in the song, we all go through that period where everything becomes routine, mundane. The excitement is gone...sometimes we even lose ourselves, we forget who we are as we take on the roles of parenthood and all the other hats we end up wearing as married folk. Are you in this place right now? Have you been there?

My husband and I will celebrate 22 years of marriage in just under two weeks. We've been there and back and I can tell you that there is HOPE! First of all, like the couple in the song, you can re-connect and find that you have so much in common still. You could discover that, even though life has wrought changes to you both, underneath all of the layers, are the same two people who fell in love..you just have to coax them out a bit.

Let me tell you about my own 'Escape' story...

A couple of years ago, I had crossed over the 40 year milestone and was approaching another  birthday and I felt depressed about how my life was looking. I was now middle-aged! I had made myself promises to do things, how I wanted my marriage to be etc and nothing was as I wanted it to be. I took stock of myself and realised that I had become absorbed with my role as mother and housewife. I had stopped seeing myself as a woman first and I felt that my husband, also, didn't see me as a woman so much as a mother and housewife. How could I change things? I wanted to FEEL, to DO, to have PASSION for my husband and PASSION for life again.

Well, friends, I decided to create my own version of 'Escape'...I wanted to escape from who I'd become and show my husband that  underneath it all I was still a woman of passion and someone that he could fall in love with all over again. So what did I do?   I PURSUED HIM! 

I started writing him e-mails telling him what a wonderful man he is, how much more I wanted for us...saying via the internet what I couldn't say face to face. I realised that, throughout our marriage, I had failed to build him up. Our husbands need to know that we think that they are 'all that', that they're all-man, that we desire them. I thought he saw me as only his wife, the mother of his children, the housekeeper, chauffeur etc. He thought I saw him as the breadwinner, the one to fix things when they were broken etc. Neither of us had stepped over the barriers created by the drudgery of life to seize something bigger and better.

Suddenly we had stripped off the layers and were actually talking to each other...sharing dreams,  desires, hopes.   Our marriage came alive under this transformation...a slow one but a steady one.   A brand new romance blossomed via the media. I would text him, e-mail him on a daily basis and he would do the same for me. Just like the couple in the song, we discovered  that lots of things that we secretly dreamed about were shared fantasies or desires or hopes.

Over the next two years, the dynamic of our relationship changed drastically. We were communicating more, sharing more...oh we fought more in the beginning too as we began to reveal our true inner selves,  but there was passion again...a passion for each other, a passion for life. I used to dream of a romantic husband and I gave up... thinking he didn't have it in him and he'd probably never have it. What a shame to waste all those years...boy does my husband have it in him! He has exceeded my wildest dreams of what a romantic man could be.

Ladies...you can do this too!  Don't be afraid to try something new.  Put some thought and care into stirring things up a little. Try a different perfume, buy a nice negligee  (or pull out the ones you've hidden underneath all your practical underwear). Try something new in the bedroom. Men are essentially sexual creatures and as wives we need to acknowledge this part of their make up. If you're in doubt...ask him. It took a few tries before I discovered my husbands actual likes and dislikes and, I will admit, I felt a bit hurt when he didn't like something, but ultimately I love his new open and honest approach...neither of us is hiding our true feelings any more.

Take a good look in the mirror. If you have been neglecting yourself, remember that men are visual creatures and he will sit up and take notice if you do something nice for yourself. That first year, I coloured my hair and got a nice cut and the look on my husband's face was worth every cent that I paid!  Or course, I know he loves me whether I'm dressed up or not, overweight or not, but it sends the message to him as well as ourselves that we are desirable when we work on it a little.

Communicate! Listen up...texting is not just for our teenagers! You have the technology...use it! I can't tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to get a text message saying that my husband is thinking about me in the middle of his busy day. I know that when I send him a word of love and encouragement it brightens his day too.

Spend time alone together.  If you can afford it, take a weekend away from the children, the chores, the responsibilities. Recharge your batteries, inject some joie de vivre into your relationship. Even if you can only do this once or twice for the year, it will make a difference...trust me! I'm overdue for a getaway with my husband but I'm still fueled by the memories of our weekend away together for our 20th anniversary!

If this is not possible, just spend time alone together any way you can. I'm lucky in that my husband is a rare species of man..he enjoys shopping! We often use our 'grocery shopping time' as time to connect and talk without the children present. Its a standing joke that when Mom and Dad go to the grocery they take forever! (Its really because we shop around and read labels etc., but I don't argue because I really am enjoying time with my  husband and he with me).  Buy him a coffee in the mall, take a walk, a drive...anything...what's really important is that you are spending quality time alone and connecting, communicating, sharing.

Pray together! My husband and I kneel together in prayer every Sunday. We try to pray every night and every morning for a couple of minutes...lately its been really difficult since we're always tired. Prayer brings the Holy Spirit into your relationship as you invite Him, as you pray for each other and lift each other before the throne of God. Believe me...God must be the head of your marriage, at the very centre of it. When the Holy Spirit is present in your marriage, He works marvels. I'm always amazed at the spiritual bond my husband and I are slowly achieving. There are times when his words minister to me in a powerful way...in a way that only God could do.

Build each other up. Train yourself to stop focusing on the negative things that he does. Nothing can kill loving feelings more than that! Instead focus on the positive, the good things, the good memories, the good feelings. Sometimes love has to be cultivated because, let's face it...he drives you crazy sometimes and you do the same to him. Husbands and wives are very vulnerable to each other and it takes courage to open up. Be tender with his heart when he does.

Sacrifice a little.  So you don't like fishing...sit with him anyway. Listen to him talk about things that you don't necessarily understand or have an interest in. When you can show him that you care about the things that make him happy, he feels the love and you'll get big rewards.

So does the mundane disappear? Does life become easy street? Do the blues go away? No..they don't...I'm sorry to say, BUT, they're a whole lot easier to bear now. With an open door of communication...we both now understand each other and who we have 'grown up' to be a little better. We can extend each other grace, cultivate our relationship and, most importantly, we have discovered that we still enjoy each other's company.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Minute Friday- Real

Once again, I'm joining in the pleasure of pure writing, no editing, for five minutes with Lisa Jo at Gypsy Mama. Come join us for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...



When those ugly little voices beckon in the darkness of my mind..
whispering lies into my soul

What's real is I know He loves me, no matter what

When I feel burdened under the weight of debt, bills to pay, the family's needs
feelings of failure, I'm drowning in it all

What's real is that I believe in His Provision

When I sense evil all around me, threatening and dark,
does nothing good exist anymore?

What's real is I believe in His Protection.

When life seems so burdensome and I question why I'm even here
Why do I do what I do everyday?

The answer is because


Love is the real reason for everything...
love is who I'm called to be, love is what I'm called to do

What is love but the only real thing in this world...
the only thing that lasts forever

Beauty fades....money is spent...all is decay

All except love....now that is REAL!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful for Guidance

It is the first Thankful Thursday of February...can you believe it? A whole month of the new year gone already. I started off this year praying for guidance from God on what His will is for me. I've been praying for wisdom and discernment. 

I can honestly say that in the month of January alone, God has brought so much rich Word to me, via your wonderful blogs, the scriptures, Mass and just through other people. I truly don't believe that anything happens by coincidence...God places us where we will best serve Him and where we will also receive His Word.

This is why it is so important for us to always LIVE out our faith. We want the world to see Christ shining in and through us. Recently, I met an old acquaintance outside of church. Her daughter and mine went to school together. We stopped to chat and she blurted out how much has been weighing on her heart. She has separated from her husband and, after years of abuse, is seeking a divorce.

What totally amazed me was that God had ordained that I should be there at that exact moment for her to talk to me. She told me that she had seen me one day and thought to herself that she would like to talk to me because she remembered my faith. I had not planned on being outside of the church at that time, but there I was!

Coincidence? I think not...God saw and heard her prayer and He bent down and listened. I am truly humbled by His trust in me and by her trust as well...to open up when she has been silent all these years. I would never have guessed that she was enduring all this. As you can imagine her family is in need of much prayer and I am happy and honoured to stand in the gap for them.

I am so thankful to God for the growth and the slow unfolding of His will in my life. Proverbs  2:3-5 tells us that if we cry out for understanding and search for it earnestly we will receive it. Slowly, like the petals of a bud, His desires are unfurling before me. I praise Him and thank Him for hearing my prayers...and there are so much and so many to pray for.


May God bless your upcoming weekend and remember always...there is no room in a grateful heart for discontent. To God be the glory...forever!

P.S. Blogger is having some problems and I am unable to comment on my own blog as well as several others. Please know that I truly appreciate all of your wonderful comments, though it may seem that I am ignoring them. Where possible I am e-mailing my comments and thanks but not everyone has their contact information available. God's blessings to you all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Message of Salvation

As we continue to study the book of Ephesians, St Paul's message of salvation unfolds. He is showing us who we are in and through Christ Jesus and it is who we were always meant to be.

The book of Genesis tells us... Genesis 1:26 "God said, 'Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves..." .

We were created in God's own image.
We are regarded by Him as more important than all of His other creations, including the Heavenly angels. We were created to be with Him, in all His glory and splendour, to be in His presence and bask in His Love for all eternity.

This is who we were meant to be...but along came the serpent. The moment Eve  ate of the forbidden fruit and encouraged Adam to do the same sin entered the world and sin separated us from God. We could no longer bask in His loving presence.
Eve and Adam,  Domenichino 1623, Royalty Free Images
We were sentenced to death.
St Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-2 "And you were dead, through the crimes and sins which used to make up your way of life when you were living by the principles of this world, obeying the ruler who dominates the air, the spirit who is at work in those who rebel."

When we choose to embrace sin and choose the values of the world over God's commandments...we are spiritually dead. We have inherited the sinful nature of our ancestral blood...straight down from Adam and Eve. We will constantly have to fight against this 'natural instinct' if we choose life with God through Christ Jesus.

St Paul goes further to say  Ephesians 2:4-5 "But God, being rich in faithful love, through the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, brought us to life with Christ - it is through grace that you have been saved."

God loves us even when we sin. 
He never turns His back on us, it is we who separate ourselves from Him by our poor choices. He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him.

Jesus' sacrifice is proof of God's love for us.
We are constantly reminded throughout the New Testament that it was through Jesus Christ that we have been restored to the place that God always intended for us to be.  Ephesians 1:7 "...through His blood we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins."

St Paul gives us this reminder...Ephesians 2:6-7 ...and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in Heaven, in Christ Jesus. This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how extraordinarily rich he is in grace."
God's grace is a gift.
We are told further in Chapter 2 that  we are completely unworthy of God's graces. We are His creations, re-created through the blood of Christ and saved from our true and deserved destiny because of His great love for us and through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The gift of salvation is the greatest gift that God has ever given to mankind. We walk among the living dead daily. We encounter them almost everywhere we go, though we may not even be aware of it. Some of us, like St Paul himself, once were living dead as well. Some of us even walk a sort of death tightrope, delicately balancing the light and the dark, not fully embracing the light.

God is love, God is light and we were made in His image and likeness. This means we were meant to give love and light, to be reflections of God in our world. We are called, through Jesus Himself, to do as He did when He walked the earth. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

Am I walking the death tightrope by compromising with the values of the world?
Am I afraid to let my God-light shine because of what others will think?
Am I firm enough in my faith to make a stand when the need arises?
Am I a living example of Christ? Do I live out my faith?
Do I draw others to God or turn them away?
Do I choose God above all else?

That's a lot to chew on isn't it? St Paul gives us much food for thought and I find that I fall short of who I am meant to be in God's eyes, but I believe in His love for me and for us all. I have faith and trust that His Grace covers over all.

Father I pray for myself and all who read this blog and all my friends in blogland. I pray for our families and for all of our needs. Mostly, right now, as I lift them all up, I pray that you will give us the strength and courage to not sit on the fence, to not walk that tightrope anymore, but to choose to put you first above all else, to embrace who we are meant to be through Christ our Lord.

My friends may we all shine brightly for Jesus...now and always.