Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I like to think of myself as a humble person, but the truth is, I am not. That’s not to beat myself up; it’s just that deep down I am pretty sure that my opinion is the right one. I have to remind myself to truly listen with the intention of understanding, versus half hearted listening and thinking that I already know what the person is going to say and then formulating a response before the person is even finished.
Paul’s description of Christian community requires authentic humility. I KNOW I can’t fake humble in marriage. If I get the idea that I know better and the other person is wrong, too often, I think it’s my job to change the other person. That’s not been a winning strategy for community or marriage. Submission has required that I humbly speak what I understand to be true (and risk rejection, conflict and the embarrassment of being wrong) and be willing to lay all that aside for the good of others. Humility doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s a work of the head and heart that requires God’s mercy on me. If I submit to another in action but not with my heart, ugly, snarky passive aggression comes sneaking out of me. Ugh.
There has been one practical thing I’ve found that’s helped in the battle; it’s taken the form of praise and prayer. I thank God for the other person, for who they are and what God is doing in their life. Then I pray for them as agenda free as possible. In my mind’s eye, I hold them up before God and ask Him to give that person the best for them. I ask God to help me let go of who I want that person to be and what I want from them.
Submission isn’t weak and passive. It’s strong and active. It’s a choice steeped in love for God and for the other person. It isn’t something that always happens instantly. Sometimes, my actions submit, my heart bucks like a wild horse and then I run back to God to do the heart work. When my proud heart insists that my way is best, it is God that I am shaking my fist at. When I submit to others in love, I submit to God and follow Christ.