Have you ever had the experience where you had the opportunity to meet someone in person who you have admired from a distance? Maybe a celebrity from TV or movies, or a speaker or author, perhaps a pastor? But when you finally are face to face the person is a real jerk, or a total dud? Maybe he insults you or he says something really awkward and stupid and your level of respect for this person plummets through the floor.
Sometimes, marriage can seem like that. You date and it’s like this person makes pure gold out of everything he touches. He can do no wrong in your eyes and you get the giggles just thinking about him holding you through the night. It is stuff of teen girl crushes.
And then real life happens. You start to see the chinks in his armor and you see him lose his cool. There ain’t nobody on this earth who knows your husband’s flaws better than you. There never will be. No one is going to know his real personality the way you will know it, and no one will get to see the many sides of him so clearly as you. This is great power and great potential for disaster.
What does that have to do with reverence and submission? There are days when your husband is the last person you feel like revering or submitting to. There are times when he is the biggest jerkface ever known to man and you would rather torch his favoritest t-shirt ever in front of his face before submitting to whatever edict he is pronouncing about your life.
And that’s not the worst of it. The worst is when you don’t do anything in front of his face, but are coldly, calculatingly plotting to ruin his life behind his back, doing things you know would break his heart and incur his anger, and you just don’t care any more. Oh how I pray for the day this may happen to my heart. I pray that this day never ever comes. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard of it far too many times. Woe to the wife who finds herself here today.
Truth be told, there are days my husband will not “earn” my reverence. I will see him clearly and without guise. I will behold all his ugliest of faces, the wretched sinful being he can be. I will see his darkest desires, his warped motives, his very worst intentions. You live long enough and pay enough attention. I guarantee you will see it all. And in those times, I have a choice. I have a choice to love and cling to the best in him and pray like crazy that he will quickly repent and turn around. Or I can allow myself to see the alternatives – the loss of his rightful position as my head, my lead, the one I submit to and revere not because he earned it, but because I gave him that position in the first place.
And like giving Jesus the right to lead and reign in my life, submitting my all to his grace and mercy, I made a choice the day I aligned my all with my husband’s all. I will not rescind that decision. How can I? I made a careful, thoughtful decision, not a rash emotional one – though I was certainly emotionally invested in it – to marry a man I knew to be the one for me, the one I was made for. I did it willingly, joyfully, wholly, and I’m not ever going to let myself second guess it. There’s no reason to. Because I knew marrying him that he was fallible. I knew he wouldn’t always do the right thing. I knew he wouldn’t always be perfect. I knew there would be times I doubted him. I expected these things. I wish that all women deciding to marry would know these things, that when they say “I do” that they understand they are getting all the good and the bad, that they have weighed the good and the bad as objectively as they can and realized the weight of “I do” for the rest of their days.
What we won’t do is let these sins he commits against us pile up, like adding another brick to a wall between us. What I won’t do is refuse to recognize the authority he has in my life, the authority I willingly gave him, like a signed contract of my heart, bonded and guaranteed for all my life and beyond. I married him as a sinner, prone to wander, relying completely on God’s grace and goodness, clinging to the cross for salvation and hope of redemption to come. What exactly has changed? What ever will change that? What kind of wife would I be if I rescinded now or on that day he merely proves his sinfulness? And what kind of marriage have we built? Is our word and oath only so strong for a life of ease and that when damaged it won’t hold? I pray not.
I pray the ease with which I submit to him now holds for good. I pray daily for the renewal of my covenant love for him, revering the beauty and the grace I see in him so clearly and wonderfully at times, submitting to his final authority in my life and listening to his heart with respect and honor. And I pray he will do the same, that we learn to submit to each other and giving all our days to God.