My husband and I did not know the Lord when we married and had not ordered our lives in the way God would have us. Through his great mercy and grace, the Lord brought us to himself shortly after having our first child. When I first read this passage (Ephesians 5:22- 24) early in my walk with Jesus, it was challenging for me. In my life then, as in our culture today, the word “submission” had some very negative connotations. When I read that I had to submit to my husband, it felt like I was being told I needed to be quiet, smile, and just follow along. My heart rebelled against this.
Over time, the Lord began to reveal to me how much better his plan was for me and for my marriage. Through scripture and the wise words of older Christian women in my life I began to understand what it truly meant to submit to my husband and the blessings that could flow from that submission. I learned, and am still learning, how, through gracefully submitting to my husband, I can grow closer to the Lord, truly love my husband as myself, and point others to the saving love of Jesus Christ.
In order to follow this plan the Lord has for me and for my marriage, I had to trust him and his word.
First, my husband and I prayed together that the Lord would show us where we needed to change, and asked that he would give us the courage to change. I also spent time with the Lord in his word reading of his great love for me and his promises. I learned that he is trustworthy (Psalm 111) and that I could trust him with my life and with my marriage.
As I began to practice gracefully submitting to my husband, I came to realize that, in doing so, I could truly begin to love my husband as myself. Just as the Lord made Eve to be “a helper fit for” Adam (Genesis 2:18), he made me to complement my husband. I have gifts and skills in areas that my husband does not. I can selfishly use those gifts and skills for myself and my own agenda, or I can use them to further the vision cast for our family. In joyfully embracing my role as helper to my husband, it could be true of my marriage that “the heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11).
This journey toward graceful submission is just that, a journey. It is a part of the process of sanctification that we as wives are called to by our Savior, Jesus Christ. If we turn to God and his word, look to Christ as our model of perfect submission (Philippians 2:5-9), and practice our own imperfect but graceful submission we will begin to see changes, most markedly in ourselves. Our lives and our marriages will look different. They will look different from what they had been before and they will look different from what the culture expects. People will notice, they will ask, and we will have the opportunity to tell others about the saving love and grace of Jesus Christ and what he has done in our lives. Each of us can share how, in his sovereign grace, Jesus softened our rebellious hearts and shaped them to his will for his glory and our good.