On the subject of humility, there is so much to say as it applies to marriage. I have been through so much training in the ‘school of the spirit’ on this subject. We are living in times where there is such a heavy push to tame the patriarchy, even strip it off its strappings to even the playing field and reverse its fortunes. Unless we are submitted to the authority of God’s word in our lives, it’s easy to get swept away in the current and push back against the male role positioning. I have never bought into the rhetoric for several reasons. For one, I am raising a son -I worry about the future that awaits him, if there will be room enough for him to even just breathe…
Also, my example of the earthly father I had was not in any way threatening. My earthly father was the most loving, nurturing human being I have ever known, he did not wield his male authority like a weapon; soft power is how he managed his household -the kindest man I have ever known. Additionally, my former husband was loving when all was well with us. He wasn’t the type of person to walk around flaunting his male authority, no. While often quarrelsome when things went wrong, he generally walked through life softly. For these reasons, I haven’t had a problem with God’s positioning of the male authority as head of the home. It hasn’t been misused, mismanaged, or used against me -God has been faithful to me like that.
On the flip side of that, I have seen females fight so hard to be heard even when they didn’t need to because they were already being heard -all stemming from yet unhealed childhood trauma. I have lived in a world where the female was so disempowered from childhood that when they had the chance, they swung the pendulum too far so as to never be disempowered again; only this affected us, the innocent souls, creating a world of chaos for everyone caught in the crossfire. Until my current and ongoing training period, this dysfunctional mode demonstrated to me was the only one I have known to operate from. Needless to say, such a fearful mindset can only breed a world of chaos and pain. I observe the world we live in, and I notice it only getting worse for the male as the female child is empowered to his detriment -the pendulum has swung so far to try and right both real and perceived wrongs from past imbalances. I listen, watch, and observe as disenfranchised men struggle to find their footing in changing fortunes.
So I find myself here, under the watchful eye of my Rabboni, as he trains me on what his original plan for marriage is. Paul’s writings are as good an opening as any. “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them”, Colossians 3:18-19. Such simple and well balanced instructions; I don’t know how I could have missed them until this season of my life. In my studies, I am finding that humility is the cornerstone of respect and submission. There are many verses I have internalized now that help me stay under God’s order/authority in these matters. A favorite one is Phil 2:3 “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” I have used this verse successfully so many times now, it is proof to me that God’s word works. When I want to say something because I think I know better, this is the verse the holy spirit will bring to mind, effectively settling me back down. Another one that’s proven to be effective is Galatians 5:16 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” This verse has stopped Satan in his tracks every time he’s tried to get me to use my words to wound another in defense and justification of self. Through verses such as Romans 14:19, I am learning to pursue peace and build up instead of tearing down; “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
When it comes to matters of the heart, I have come from such a fearful place to a place of trust and security in my heavenly father. I do not have to fear real or imagined male subjugation because God promises to protect me as long as I do things his way. I am truly breaking free from generational fear based on others’ past experiences that did not serve womanhood well. There will never be blessings when we take matters into our own hands and do things our way, when we fail to trust God to fight for us. It doesn’t pay to get out of order and break away from God’s instructions. Fighting our own wars and battling for ourselves creates nothing but disorder and chaos, giving satan a foothold into our homes and marriages, allowing him to run amok and wreak havoc.
Even as our lives unfold, we are instructed on matters of appearances and propriety in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” A gentle and quiet spirit can only be housed in a humble heart. Pride and haughtiness of spirit will oppose such unfading beauty, for such vices promote unbecoming behavior. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”, Proverbs 11:2.
Instead of an unhealthy focus on outer adornment, we are encouraged thus in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Yes, Christ has afforded us many freedoms to live our lives abundantly, but not everything that is permissible is beneficial (1 Cor. 10:23). “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love”, Galatians 5:13. We are expected to use this freedom to “live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited”, Romans 12:16.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”, Ephesians 4:2. I find such beauty in such simple instructions. They make for a peaceful home, peaceful relationships. Being humble with one another, gentle with one another, patient with one another, bearing with one another in love… There is a formula for successful relationships, and it‘s steeped in cultivating a gentle, quiet, humble spirit, esteeming others as better than self, submitting to one another, showing deep abiding love and respect for each other… “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble”, 1 Peter 3:8. There are God-ordained principles that dictate successful relationships, as long as we are willing to submit to God’s ways.
I often wonder why this would be relevant to me now, but I have come to understand that the character we build here in our earthly relationships is the only thing we take with us to the afterlife. I am grateful that God has not counted me out, and that He still thinks me worthy of receiving instruction and being taught by Him through His word. It is a season of such humbling for me, one I have taken in stride as I do my best to follow God’s word. Sometimes I wonder what the point of all this is, but I have come to understand that God does not waste anything, he doesn’t waste any of our tears, pain, and struggles. Anything given to him, he will turn it around and use it for our good. So, in this, my season of humbling, I submit to the process, the breaking and making of men into the image of God. I don’t know anyone that the Lord hasn’t broken before using them, and so I submit to my breaking, fully understanding that no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), that weeping will remain only for a night (Psalm 30:5), and that in the end, God shall get the glory.