My husband is wonderful. Have I ever mentioned that? :) He is a godly, honorable man with strength and integrity, self-discipline, courage, and just plain smarts. He is compassionate and caring, and I am so thankful to be married to him. Submission to such a man usually comes easily. Our goals and visions tend to be aligned, and it is easy for us to agree on both the big-picture decisions and the nitty-gritty day to day ones. In ten years of marriage, we have found our preferences bending to one another - which makes the daily decision making even simpler.
But, what happens when we don't agree? When our thoughts and hearts are totally in discord, when the way we process a particular decision is completely opposing? What then?
Recently, this happened. I am going to be careful not to share the details of our decision-making, because I know I could easily find myself trying to garner support for my preference while degrading Erik's arguments. And I want to honor him in every way as I share a process that I am learning and growing through. Right now. So... suffice it to say, the decision that halted us in our typically unified steps was a biggie. One about our kiddos, and our long-term vision for our family. We talked, and I cried. And we talked some more, and I cried some more. And weeks went by, and it was crunch time. I felt so clearly that the Lord was leading us in one direction. And Erik disagreed. Unflinchingly.
Finally, on the night when we had to make this decision, I said, "Honey, we are not going to reach consensus on this. We are so far apart. It is time for me to step back and just let you decide. You are the head of our household and I have to trust your leadership. I have to submit."
So, I curled up in a ball and wept while Erik forged my signature on a document he didn't want to make me sign (yup, I just admitted that).
A couple of weeks passed, and we didn't discuss the decision again - until a second document was due. He hadn't changed his mind, and, even though my will was submitted to his, my heart was also unchanged. I had (and still have) no peace about the decision. I was in turmoil and heartache as he continued to move forward.
So - what do you do? The question I have found myself asking and praying about in the last weeks is, "Lord, how do I submit to a decision I disagree with in a way that strengthens our marriage rather than tears it down?"
I am still praying that. Daily. The Lord may turn my heart and I may see that my husband's leadership was spot on - that he was bravely following what he knew to be right, and I was wrong. Or, it may be that, eventually, Erik will decide that I was right, and he'll take measures to back up and alter the course. I don't know what the future holds. But, from a clear, biblical command, I have a job to do. And that is to lovingly submit to my husband as unto the Lord.
I was thinking this through the act of submission, and talking with a sweet friend, and she said, "Isn't it a gift of God's grace that He commands us to submit? I mean, what if he hadn't? We aren't going to always agree with our husbands. And, in those times that we don't, someone has to back down. It's so gracious of God that He made it clear whose role that is! He saved us so much heartache and fuss by just delineating that for us in His Word."
She's so right. It is a gift that the Lord outlined our roles. It is a gift that He made a clear pathway for us through conflict. It isn't easy - but, truthfully, the greater weight is on our husbands, isn't it? They pull a heavy load of responsibility by getting to be the ultimate decision-makers. We are called to follow, and we are covered by the protection of our husbands and the Lord.
I remember reading once that "the good feelings don't always come in the same package as the right answer." I am experiencing that. I know the right answer and I am living it - but I am still heartbroken and in turmoil. The peace hasn't come, yet. But, it will. If the Lord's desire for wives is submission - then He will honor our marriages when we do.
One thing I found I needed to do was to share honestly with Erik. I needed him to know that I was still struggling. I felt like this decision was a wedge between us because he had set himself so firmly against the desires of my heart, and against what I felt was God's best for our family. I told him that I didn't want to maintain that wedge - but I also didn't know how to break through it. When I gently shared that with him, I think the wedge cracked in two.
So, how do I submit in a way that builds up our marriage? Honesty. Prayer (and not just prayer that he will change his mind!). Reaching out through acts of service (a favorite meal, a back-rub, a pretty nightie pulled out from the dusty recesses of a dresser drawer :) ). I can submit with a hard heart - or I can submit with a soft one.
I can see the Lord's command as a burden, or I can embrace it as a gift. When you face one of these inevitable times - I pray that reminder will help you, too. Our story doesn't have an ending yet. I can't tell you the ways God blessed our family because I submitted to hard decision. But I know that He would not be able to bless us if I chose to disobey His Word.
So here's to glad submission! Even when it's hard.