Ashes on the wood-burning stove, dried milk spots on the dark wood floor, coats hung on the chairs scattered around the kitchen table, day-old laundry in the middle of the floor and the red lamp shade knocked a bit uneven. These are the dirty details of my living room right now. Surrounded by the clutter, it is easy for me to block out the ‘ugly’ and find beauty in the peacefulness of this moment. The girls are asleep, my husband is studying and I can just sit here on the couch and enjoy the flames dancing behind the glass in the stove, study the family photos on the mantle and think about which cereal I prefer to eat in a few minutes. I barely even notice the clutter, the left out, undone or abandoned.
He brings it to my attention. “Let’s take ten minutes to tidy up before I start homework, ” he suggests.
The battle for my obedience to the scriptures begins.
Immediately my mind begins making excuses. Next, I can feel my heart beating in my chest as my inner baby begins to throw a temper tantrum. I grit my teeth. I sigh. It is obvious that I do not want to clean for ten minutes. I do not want to submit and do what he asks of me. But I crawl off the couch onto the floor and tackle the folding. I am doing what he asks, but I am not joyful in it. In fact, I am angry.
With each T-shirt, wash cloth and sock I fold, my heart begins to change and I begin reminiscing, adding stories to each article I arrange. Before I know it, I am in a rhythm. My mind prepares for the next task and what it will take to complete it. My inner chant has begun, “serving my family, I’m serving my family”… And in ten short minutes, the clutter is gone, house is cozy, joy in my heart and submission completed.
Let me now get to my computer and update my facebook status to, “Hey world, I submitted to my husband…”
But, can I really sing the praises of a submitted heart? Do I really reach around my pregnant belly and give myself a pat on my back for serving? As I come to realize the weight of my response, my knees buckle and my heart sinks low. I confess. I have obeyed the request of my husband and eventually found joy, but only half was done.
I do not struggle with submission because I distrust my husband to make right decisions or doubt his ability to provide for our family. I struggle to obey God’s command to submit to my husband because of raw, rotting, stinking SELFISHNESS. It is the nagging, inner voice that plagues my self-talk, while outwardly I am all smiles and hard work. On the outside – compliance. On the inside – gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes.
This is not Biblical submission.
Proverbs 4:23 says “…the heart is the well spring of life”.
I do not want my heart to be a muddy pool, from which I can splash out lukewarm acts of kindness when it is convenient. I want my heart to be a well spring of life.
I want submission to spring up in my heart, soak into my mind and overflow into my actions. For this to happen, I must pursue Christ. I need to get serious about studying, memorizing and meditating on his word. I must pray for God to change this in me and be willing to die to my own selfishness.
A submitted heart and mind leads to outward submission both to Christ and to my husband. It is genuine, calm, joyful, patient and full of kindness because it is God’s work, not mine!