living out a gospel-transformed submission.

I know I am only a year and 3 months into scratching the surface of marital submission, but I feel like everyday brings an opportunity to grow in this area. If you’re unfamiliar or unsure of what it means for a wife to submit to her husband, basically it means that as a husband follows Jesus and submits to His Word, we ought to respect and trust our husbands. This is a COMMAND in scripture  for EVERY wife. (Ephesians 5:22-33) When a man is submitting to Christ, he will love his wife, stimulate a flourishing in her beauty, character, and holiness, and lay down his life for her. What women wouldn’t want to submit to a man like this!? This would not even be a battle. And sometimes a relationship between husband and wife looks like this.

And sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t speak into what it looks like for a man to patiently lead and love his wife when she is difficult and unwilling because I am not a man. I praise God for His grace toward Kevin when he responds in patience toward me, but sometimes I don’t know how he does it! I admit that I can be difficult, nagging, and disrespectful! And Kevin would admit that sometimes he is not being a man worthy of being of being submitted to. Sometimes he is not submitting to Christ and being lazy. I bet most husbands and wives can relate to these seasons in marriage. Sometimes, your spouse will not be the godly man or women you thought you were marrying.

So, women, what do we do in these times? When our husbands are not so easy to respect or submit to? In a pre-marital session on Relating from Soma Community Church, I was struck when the speaker’s wife said,

“I have already determined in my life that I am going to submit to Jesus. That’s all I need to do. And I can submit to my husband because I submit to Jesus. Not because my husband is worthy, but because Jesus is worthy.”

That has stuck with me for two years so far, and I am so thankful! I have heard so many women say things like, “Will he ever change?” “Am I the only one turning from sin and pursuing Christ?” “When will he stop spending his time this way?” “I am tired of his negative outlook,” or something similar–You are not alone! And if you have ever told yourself, “that’s it! I am tired of being a “good, godly” (eh hem…and prideful?) wife! I am tired of forgiving him! I am going to ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever would disrespect him or hurt him) to get back” You are not alone!

Every woman has been in this place, and Peter knows it can be so common that he writes about it! 1 Peter 3 starts off by commanding, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)” This is hard to persevere in, but only if you fail to read into the word “likewise;” the way Jesus went before you in 1 Peter 2:18-35.

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly…For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”

Jesus is not just our example for submitting to sinful man, we were the sinful man! He bore our sins patiently and laid His life down for us! He did not condemn us or retaliate, but extended love to us, making us right with God! And because Jesus lived and died in such a way, we are humbly empowered to also live the same way in relation to others–especially when we are being sinned against! This is what it looks like to live out the gospel in our marriages! We GET to show a beautiful picture to the world what the gospel looks like!

 

So let us be encouraged women. Firstly, we are not enslaved to our sinful desires to “get back” to get our point across to our husbands. Jesus freed us from that and to something better! And God will use us, as we persevere in holiness and humility and follow Him, to work in our husbands.

And secondly, God never promised us that it will be easy to submit to our husbands. God never promised that our husbands will always lead us or our children the way we hope they will. He never promised that our husbands will change in this or change in that…What God does promise us is more and more of Himself forever as we seek him. God promises that Jesus will be enough for us when we are afraid or burdened. God promises that the Holy Spirit will change us and empower us to love and honor our husbands.

We can submit to and respect our husbands simply by submitting to and loving Jesus, who is worthy! We can trust that he will be faithful and sovereign over us, our husbands, and our marriages–and will glorify Himself in the process! Amen!

How I am preparing to be a wife…One year later.

I have a lot of friends who are single, dating, or engaged. I too am not too far removed from these life stages. One thing in common with all unmarried women is the however-prevalent-idea of “preparing” to be a wife. Some think about it daily, pray about it often, and seek mentorship from a married woman. Others dread the thought of wifedom, but begrudgingly listen to a few biblical womanhood sermons a year and agree with the doctrine of complimentarianism. Most fall in the middle.

Regardless, I am learning one year later, how to prepare for this calling. Let me tell you–what I am learning, is not a new recipe or hospitality tip, but it’s so much harder, yet so much more familiar than I would have imagined. I wish someone would have told me this a year ago.


Most single (and when I say single, I mean unmarried) women I know “just want to be married.” I was in the same boat about a year ago. Once I got that great godly guy I had been looking for, all I wanted was to be engaged. I would say, “Once I get engaged then it will be so much easier, right!? We have a commitment, we can share deeper parts of our hearts, etc.” Then I got engaged. “If only we were married, it would be so great! Making out won’t bring rebuke from my triad, we won’t have to say good-night and drive our separate ways, we won’t fight as much…” Then I got married. And it was the hardest stage of them all.

No one really understands me, but when they tell me they “can’t wait to be married,” I laugh and say, “so you are really excited to die to yourself, your preferences, and your pride, huh?!” (Sorry, I guess that not response you wanted?) Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Kevin. I ONLY want to be married to him. I DO NOT wish to go back to dating and waiting and boundaries, but what I thought I was preparing for as a single women, DID NOT prepare me for what I would face as a married women. What I faced was an ugly, immature, crazy ME! Like, just yesterday, I threw a whole bowl of salad because I was mad! (No, this does not happen everyday…but still…its pretty crazy) All of my baby spinach greens, fresh strawberries, apple slices, and almonds lay on the floor as I cried on my bed. I could blame it on Kevin making me mad or my pregnancy hormones making me loopy, but I know it was just my sin. Now, that doesn’t quite resemble the portrait of a Titus 2 women, does it?

The truth is, the same girl who couldn’t stop making out during engagement, is the same women who threw the salad bowl. My circumstances have changed, but my sinful heart has not. At its core, I still struggle with self-control, patience, and steadfastness. It just looks different.

The truth about marriage, is that you are living with another sinner. So now the temptation for you to sin is twice as strong. Not only do you have to fight against your own idols and sinful urges, but now the sins of your spouse fall on you too! On our best day, we can be totally selfless, helpful, and encouraging, yet at the first sight of our husband’s sin we throw up our arms, feel like a fool for being such a “servant” and walk away sulking. God forbid I would persevere in my calling as wife if he won’t follow through with his!? Right? (sounds crazy, but this is how I feel and who I am)

The truth about Jesus is that he claims, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:3, Psalm 69) Jesus took every sin Kevin or I would commit or every command we would fail to live up to, and let them fall on Him. He bore with us, the weak, to bring us to God. His judgement and pain was totally unfair, but He continued to serve and love us with humility on the cross, and will continue to do so right on into the kingdom. CRAZY! Now read this…

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Now, may the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:1-7)

This passage teaches us to not only remember Christ’s work, but that NOW, we have been given the freedom, endurance, and hope to press forward in modeling after Christ. So whether you are the one weak and struggling with sin, or the one bearing the weight of your spouses sin, nothing is too great for us to press on in love though because Christ has taken our ultimate shame. Only after we are humbled by Jesus’ own love for us, can we model that love for our husbands.

So how do we prepare for this? Paul tells us in passages like Romans 12: 9-21, Colossians 3, or 2 Peter 1. Just live out the basic marks of a Christian! Virtues like: self-control, patience, outdoing one another in love, humility, not repaying evil for evil, purity, contentment instead of coveting…ALL OF THESE ARE THE ROOTS OF MY MARITAL CONFLICT AND ISSUES, yet I struggled with these core commends as a single women! How I wish I had been more focused on growing in these virtues and dying to my sin, than I was with planning my wedding or trying to bake bread from scratch.

So I can’t go back to my engagement obviously, but through Christ’s forgiveness and grace, I can start over today. I can begin to prepare again to be a wife, but more than that, just be a Christian. Whether married or unmarried, whether they victim or the crazy one, sin is sin and turning from it to love someone else looks the same. We can look to Jesus, or substitute and our example. So the next time a single woman asks me how prepare for marriage, I will say, “how are you doing following the basic commands laid out to believers in the scriptures?” Start there. I will too.

Archetypes, prototypes, and stereotypes of the biblical women:

This Monday, Pastor Daniel Montgomery came to our final Women’s School of the year. He gave us a very encouraging charge as women at Sojourn. Likewise, He gives a similar model for the men to follow.

For each, 5 characteristics make up the archetype, or “essence,” of the biblical man or women:

A Biblical Man is a:

1.    Worker
2.    Fighter (for truth, for oppressed people, for God’s kingdom on Earth)
3.    Pioneer
4.    Sage/ Man of wisdom
5.    Glory of God

A Biblical Women is a:

1.    Helper/influencer
2.    Nurturer

3.    Lifegiver (physically and emotionally)
4.    Lady of wisdom (instead of a women with weak theology!)
5.    Glory of Man (making him look good, speaking highly of him, highlighting his strengths and giftings)

 

The essence of biblical womanhood can seen in prototypes, or examples, all throughout the Bible. The most popular are Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 of course. Daniel encouraged us to look at our lives and analyze how we are living out the essence of our womanhood (above) in the world:

In our Location: In our homes or dorms!

In our Vocation: Are you a wife? Mother? Barista? Student?

In our Recreation: Do you know how to rest? Do you have hobbies? Are you teaching others how to rest well?

In our Restoration: This refers to the church—How are you stepping up with your gifts to bless the church and advance the kingdom?

In our Multiplication: Are you teaching the next generation or discipling those younger in their faith? Are you presenting a pure, accurate view of biblical femininity?

 

In our striving to live out the 5 characteristics of our biblical womanhood, we must be careful to live in line with the Word, drawing out principles seen from our different examples in the Bible. The Titus 2 woman or the Proverbs 31 woman gives principles to follow according to each one’s personality and spiritual giftings. We don’t all need to start an Etsy shop just because the woman in Proverbs 31 sells her merchandise—instead, we can follow the principle to be a wise, creative women, and a helper to our husbands, in whatever our “vocation,” whether mother, or CEO, or homemaker. There is such freedom!

The tricky thing I fall into often is mistaking stereotypes for definitions of the biblical women. It is easy to look around my church and draw my conclusions of what kind of women, wife, or mother I should be. Now being pregnant, I have been far too consumed with debating cloths diapers, and whole food organic buying clubs, and home school, and wheat grinding, and Pinterest projects, than with living out those 5 characteristics above! Never does the Bible say that a woman MUST nurture her family with local produce and homemade bread—but what do I do? Try to make my own crappy bread, wasting 3 hours that I could have been using the gifts I DO have to love my church or study the Scriptures. Or I become discontent in my smaller grocery budget, instead of loving and submitting to my husband’s leadership with our finances. None of these things above are wrong in themselves—I personally would love to home school someday, and I have a friend who can make delicious homemade bagels and bread for a fraction of the cost than the store—but these things are just expressions of our biblical womanhood coming out in the way we live our lives.

Most importantly, let us not pass on these stereotypes to those women under our care. If I am not careful, I could make the ways I express my femininity to become laws for them to follow! OH how we all just long to figure out a formula from others around us to feel OK in our womanhood! Instead, I want to be a woman who can present a pure image of biblical womanhood to the ladies I disciple or the daughters I raise. I could care less if they use the same rhetoric I do, or decorate the same way I do, or even read all the same books I do. But am I leading them to be women of influence? Nurturing and gentle in spirit? Lifegiving to others around them? Wise in the world and in truth? The future glory of their husbands? 

Being a women of God can not be achieved through a checklist of things you do or don’t do, but it flows from a heart that loves Christ, loves others, and submits to the commands of God on your life. And I am just tying to figure those things out!