What does submission really look like? Have you ever been stopped by the police? Maybe you were going too fast. Maybe you had a taillight out. When you see those lights flip on in your rear view mirror, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do next. You find a place to safely pull over and you fumble through the glovebox for your insurance and registration. The first question every officer asks is “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Now, there is always a dilemma going on in my mind when I’m asked that question. Do I admit I knew I was speeding? Do I feign surprise when he tells me I’ve got a tail light out that I’ve actually known about for months?
I was once pulled over when I was 16 years old for running a stop sign. Thing was, it wasn’t me. I had a cousin who looks more like my twin who also happened to drive a car very similar to mine, same in color, and with the same style license plate. We were both driving in the same town around the same block at the same time. When the officer told me he’d seen me run the stop sign, I was frustrated because I knew that I had not done that! I tried to argue that it was not me who’d done that, but the officer was having none of it. I realized quickly I wasn’t going to win this argument and if I didn’t shut my mouth, it was only going to get worse for me. He gave me a verbal warning and let me go.
Things like that happen in marriage sometimes too. Adam will come to me with “Do you know why I’m upset with you?” I have to quickly decide how I’m going to answer that question. How much does he actually know? Is he talking about what happened yesterday, or does he know about that other thing? Sometimes, I’m genuinely not sure what I’ve done. Occasionally, I completely disagree that what I’ve done was in any way wrong. Rarely, but it happens, I didn’t do what he’s accusing me of. I have choices to make in every situation like these. I can get angry and defensive. I can cry and plead. I can play dumb about it. Or, I can humble myself and listen carefully to what he’s saying whether or not I agree with him. Adam is always willing to listen to my side of the story. He gives me the benefit of doubt much more often than not. He’s never cruel. We do not always agree, though.
Submission does not mean I can’t give my opinions. It doesn’t mean I can’t disagree. Submission is pulling over when you see those red and blue lights flashing behind you. There’s a right way to disagree. If you choose to argue your case, you can go to court and do so, respectfully. If you get belligerent and angry at the officer, it’s not going to end well. That officer has the authority to put you in handcuffs and throw you in jail if you decide to escalate the situation. In the same way, my husband has the authority to discipline me if I refuse to cooperate respectfully. I can still be in submission and argue my case if I just do it in the right way.
It isn’t always easy to submit. It can get ugly real fast if I get indignant and uncooperative because I know I’m right and he’s wrong. Submission is something we all do everyday. We submit to the laws and the people who uphold them. We submit to our bosses. Submission is not something only weak or mindless people can do. I think it takes strength to submit. It takes humility to admit when you’re wrong. It also takes integrity and good character to be worthy of submission. A tyrant can force others to physically submit to their will, but only those who have earned trust and respect are worthy of true submission of the heart, mind, and body.