Submission Makes Me Feel Inferior
A new minister’s wife recently told me “submission makes me feel inferior, insignificant, and taken advantage of.” She grew up in a home where she didn’t see biblical manhood and womanhood modeled, but now she has the opportunity to flesh it out in the laboratory of her own life.
It’s easy to empathize with this new wife, isn’t it? Maybe that’s where you are today. I remember well these same feelings when George and I started this journey. It felt so unfair that God would expect me to follow, obey, and submit. And since none of our husbands are absolutely perfect, and many of them are not even on the first page with biblical manhood, it makes the submission pill even harder to swallow. The feelings of disappointment and anger can sometimes be overwhelming. But we cannot afford to live our lives based on our feelings. At best they are fickle; and at worst they are dangerous—and can easily lead us into some very poor decisions.
God’s Word is full of stories of women who made incredible faith choices amid a flurry of conflicting feelings. Can you imagine how the young Jewish girl felt when she discovered she would be impregnated by the Spirit of God? There had to be moments of humiliation as she endured the stares and condemnation of upright citizens in Nazareth.
And let’s not forget Sarah, our model of biblical submission. What must she have felt when Abraham risked her honor to protect his life? She probably felt inferior, insignificant, and even taken advantage of, too. But she chose to operate out of faith and trust in God, rather than her feelings. And we are challenged to do the same.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how God molds His children and conforms us to His image. His desire is that we be humble and broken before Him. To accomplish that in our lives, He puts us into relationships with others that facilitate this molding. For many of us, that takes place in our marriages. For others, perhaps this takes place in the context of a difficult work environment—a hard task master as a supervisor. For others it might be within the arena of illness, or in relationship with a harsh parent or a rebellious child. But behind the scenes, it is His hand that is at work gently reshaping our character and will.
During one particularly difficult season, I was feeling bitter and very much taken advantage of. About that same time, I came across a copy of Brokenness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She contrasts the characteristics of proud people with broken people. As I read, my true heart was exposed:
Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit . . . Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.
Proud people become bitter and resentful when they are wronged; they have emotional temper tantrums; they hold others hostage and are easily offended; they carry grudges and keep a record of others’ wrongs . . . Broken people give thanks in all things; they are quick to forgive those who wrong them.
Underneath all of those feelings of bitterness and anger with my husband and God was a heart of pride that had decided I deserved much better. Today when my feelings flare (and they do still every once in awhile), I remember to run them through this pride/brokenness grid. I often discover, even today, that the Lord has oh-so-much more work to do on my heart—and I look forward to the day when the breaking/molding process will be complete.