“A virtuous and worthy wife [earnest and strong in character] is a crowning joy to her husband, but she who makes him ashamed is as rottenness and cancer in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)
Today Tim and I celebrate 21
fulfilling challenging wonderful years together!
Today I reflect on our journey and what it has taken for me to “stand by my man” for better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health.
Today I think about how much I love and cherish him and how I intend to do this until we are parted in death.
Today I think about what it has meant for me to “stand” during these past 21 years. It has meant enduring difficulties and “bearing up” in the hard times. It has meant remaining stable and intact when I wanted to be the one to fall apart. It has meant stopping when I wanted to run. It has meant abiding and resting when I wanted to give up. It has meant remaining loyal and supporting the one that I love. It has meant living by the wedding vows we spoke to each other in a tiny chapel on the grounds of The Geelong College on a gorgeous Summer afternoon on the 15th February 1992.
For better and for worse. Check. For richer or for poorer. Check. In sickness and in health. Check. Forsaking all others. Check.
Before we were married my future Mother-in-law was overheard describing me as “the one who wears the pants in that relationship”. I guess what she perceived was that her usually quiet, well mannered, softly spoken, wise son was totally dominated by this loud, passionate, blunt, outspoken young woman. (Perception is a funny thing! And I’m not sure my MIL’s perception has changed much over the years!)
But I know, and Tim knows…I have never been the one wearing the pants in our relationship! No matter how it might look! Because I learned very early in our marriage to believe in, follow and practice the controversial concept of Biblical submission.
Almost 12 months after this, my original blog post about biblical submission and standing by my man, this topic of submission has hit the news around the world and even here in Australia with the release of “Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure’s latest book “Balancing it all”. Social media has reacted wildly to Candace’s admission that she is a submissive wife and this is what has helped her to balance her life. Headlines this week have screamed the questions: “what happened to men and women created equal?” and “what about feminism?”
The problem is, the word “submission” turns many people off and they don’t read further, so all I ask is that you please let me explain what this word “submission” means for us.
For years I have tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to put into words what submission looks like and in one paragraph author Karen Ehman in her book “Let.It.Go.” uses the analogy of two dancers to perfectly describe a biblical marriage the way I also see it. She paints the picture like this:
“Ballroom dancers swirl and twirl, sway and dip as they appear to glide effortlessly across the wooden floor floating in perfect unison. At times the dance travels toward the girl. Then the direction changes, and it migrates back to the man’s side of the floor. No matter the direction the couple moves, one thing is certain. For the dance to fall into place, the woman must follow the man’s lead. It doesn’t mean she’s inferior or less than, or subservient. It isn’t about importance. It’s about function and roles. If the end result – a smooth and breathtaking dance – is desired, there are no two ways around it: the girl must follow her partner’s lead.”
Now, Tim and I are no Fred and Ginger or Torvill and Dean when it comes to the dance floor but in marriage we both want the same end result – smooth and breathtaking dance steps, perfectly timed and in sync with one another. For that to happen, I follow his lead and I “stand by my man”.
It looks like this:
I will make a deliberate choice to submit. The Bible doesn’t say “Tim, make your wife submit to you.” It’s not about being married to a male chauvinist pig who demands I “behave” and do everything I’m told. (If you know me, you would know that would never work!) But the Bible does say that my husband must love me, cherish me, be affectionate, considerate and sympathetic towards me and not be harsh, angry, bitter or resentful. And I can assure you that I’m more than happy to stand by my man and submit under those conditions!
I won’t be a control freak and try to manipulate to get things to go my way. Sure, I can voice my opinions (Tim will tell you that I do. Regularly!) but we work together as a team of two, co-operating to make decisions about us. Together.
A biblical marriage means we will find the dance steps that work for us. Some people can dance a beautiful ballet. Others prefer ballroom style. Other couples enjoy modern or contemporary dance moves. And some people can do the foxtrot or the cha cha. Because we can’t do any of these dance moves we’ve worked out our own steps. Sure, I admit they might look strange to someone watching and we might never make it into the finals of “So you think you can dance” (no loss there), but we don’t care! We have found our groove and our rhythm and it’s working just fine for us.
Life threw us a curve ball three years ago when Tim was unemployed. We didn’t see it coming and it was a very long, hard, difficult season. Not one that I want to repeat. Not only did we have to face unemployment and loss of income together, but together we went through the difficult season of Tim’s depression. Through it all we still laughed. Together. We still held hands. We still reminded each other daily of how much we loved each other. We still thanked God for each other and for our family and our health. And every day during those difficult times when I thought about giving up on our marriage, I was reminded of my vows:
“I Nicki, take you Tim, according to God’s holy word, to be my husband. To have and to hold from this day forward. To share my faith in Christ and to make my home with you. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, until we are parted by death. Before God I pledge you my faithfulness.”
As I reflect again today on what biblical submission means to me, I am reminded of the words to the chorus of a song Tim wrote for me 21 years ago.
“You are my lover
You’re my best friend
My sister in Christ
My wife til the end”
That’s why I stand by my man.
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