I kind of made an idiot out of myself in Bible study today. We were discussing the “wives submit” passage and I said a lot in favor.
But they didn’t know I was speaking with the passion of the converted.
They don’t know how many citations I got in elementary school for wrestling boys to the ground. Or the time I got sent to the principal’s office for pinching Ryan Progergevsky so hard he bled.
They don’t know that I organized and executed a sit-in when I was in sixth grade for equal rights for the girls. Or about how I disdained the idea of ever submitting to a man because I was never going to find one stronger than me.
And how would they know? Let’s face it, I’m pretty much a poster child right now for traditional gender roles. I’m a stay at home Mom of three kids, bringing in no income, and often, literally, barefoot in the kitchen. I’m emotional, hormonal, don’t touch the finances, and, indeed, due to the nature of his job often have no idea how much money is in the bank.
But the girl who once harbored the secret and dear ambition to be the first female player in the NFL did not become this barefoot Momma overnight.
You see, I exercised my biggest power in the most serious way when I chose my husband.
I found someone stronger than me, strong enough for me to break down on, strong enough to handle strong Barbara, and strong enough to handle weak Barbara. And he got someone strong enough to handle him, too. So, there.
I’m a scientist at heart, that is, I ask questions, experiment, and repeat. And I have tested again and again this whole “submission” thing. This is how it began:
We were about six weeks out from being married in a very fast engagement. I had long ago committed to being a virgin on my wedding night and it was looking like I may not make it. (He was hot!) I had an emergency session with a counselor who told me something radical, something that I would never hear culture say. He said, “Barbara, you gotta let him take the reins. You shouldn’t be in charge of that, he should. And if he can’t drive that cart then you don’t want to marry him. There are going to be a lot more difficult things in your marriage for which he’s going to have to take responsibility.”
So, I told James what the counselor had said and I felt the greatest weight slide off my shoulders when I followed it with, “So, now it’s up to you. You know how important it is to me to wear that white dress. And you’re in charge.” He laughed and shook his head. I barely got a kiss for the next six weeks.
And then I married him.
We have a rule in our marriage, we concede to whoever is the most adamant. Often it works well. Often one of us feels significantly more zealous. But, there have been a few instances where we end up head-to-head and toe-to-toe.
There was the time he made me turn around and apologize to our boss after I lost my temper in one of the worst ways. That job was our house and our income for months more because I apologized.
There was the time he told me not to take my dream job. And I scowled and pouted, but called and refused the job. And the day before the job was supposed to start my Dad died. I had been so glad I didn’t have to worry about work that week.
And then there was the time he looked at me and told me it was time to have kids. Within weeks we were pregnant with our son.
What is marriage if not the beautiful image of how love alone can make two discordant people one? Like God the Father and Jesus, two as one yet obedient to the Father. As the church and Jesus are co-heirs of an inheritance yet under Jesus’ head?
And what kind of weakness is it in me that wakes up first, serves every member of my family before myself, and doesn’t sit down until nine pm every night? What weakness is it in me that can trust in the face of the unknown, let myself breakdown with another human being, and be master of my fears with loving obedience?
I am not lost in these submissions. I am doubled. I am tripled. And I am better for my role as wife and mother. I am more complex. I am stronger.
So, I know I don’t look like I’m doing anything for women’s lib. But it really seems to be working great for Barbara’s lib.