A few weekends ago I received an early morning text message from a friend. It was an urgent emergency. We had been preparing a cake for our church’s 10th birthday celebration and it had tipped over in the night and needed to be redone. This wasn’t just any old cake. It was 4 tiers and was enough cake to feed 150-200 people. You can take a peak at the creation here.
I was in a pretty good mood as I headed over to re-build this cake…and it’s a good thing. I was about to hear some pretty startling news. In fact, it may have been life-altering news.
You see, I was driving my husband’s truck. I don’t normally take the truck. My husband drives the truck to and from work every day and I usually have the car. Well, my husband, Josh, had the radio switched to KWAVE, which is a Christian talk station. Normally I would turn the station to Air 1 or some other Christian music station. I’ve never been much for talk radio. For whatever reason, though, I decided to stick with this station.
Now, it may have been that it was a woman’s voice and it took me by surprise. Maybe it was that I was too tired to switch the station. Whatever it was, I think that God had some big plans for me. As I listened to this woman’s gentle voice I heard her say something that would be life-changing…startling…convicting. She said (something along the lines of…) “You might be saying, ‘but I don’t trust my husband! I can’t submit to him if I don’t trust him!’ But God has not said to trust your husband. God said, ‘Submit to your husband and trust ME.'” (9am Sat. March 30)
I was really taken by surprise. You see, my husband and I moved out to California from Wisconsin back in May of 2009. I was so excited to start this new journey and live in a new place. The longer we stayed here, however, the lonelier I began to feel. I was so completely aware of my shortcomings in every way that seemed to be important to so many Californians. I wore (and still wear, for the most part) ridiculous clothing that usually doesn’t quite fit right…or isn’t for my body type. My hair was quite frequently put in pony tails or left down without being blow dried. I felt like quite a wreck in my plain, old, faded jeans and UWSP t-shirt. I had just never really considered to try so hard to just get out of bed in the morning. Even at a pool party with some friends, I was the ONLY person to show up wearing a one-piece bathing suit. NO KIDDING. I really was. It wasn’t just how I felt. I really was the only one. I felt so awkward…and over dressed LOL. I seriously went onto Victoria’s Secret sale site and bought a 2-piece for like $15 that next week. It fit fine, but I still felt uncomfortable. It just wasn’t me…so it’s gathering dust in one of my drawers.
It wasn’t just the clothing, though. I just seemed to have a difficult time making friends. I even felt like the outlier in my own Bible Study groups. I just couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong with me. As we drove the mile or two down the road to our new Bible Study I would literally cry and beg Josh to let me skip. Then I would cry all the way home because I just could not fit in for whatever reason. It didn’t start that way, of course, but after months of just feeling unwelcomed or like I didn’t belong, I just felt like there was this giant chasm between us…the Californians and me, that is. Maybe they could sense my insecurity. I don’t know.
On the outside, I was smiling and doing my best to be myself. I’ve never struggled to make friends in my entire life. On the inside, I was falling apart and so incredibly lonely. I really needed a friend. So, I began to really push Josh that this clearly could not be where God wanted us to live. Obviously there is something wrong with this place or we wouldn’t be having so many problems. We were struggling to keep our heads above water, financially, and I used that as part of my ammunition. Again, clearly God could not want us here. We must have made a mistake. What on Earth were we thinking??
I kid you not. I probably nagged Josh about this on a daily basis. He will back me up on this, I’m sure. He was feeling unknown amounts of pressure from me and from everyone else. And all in different directions. It’s amazing that he was ever able to accomplish any projects at work with his arms and legs being pulled in a million directions. It was exhausting for both of us.
After 2 years I finally had a couple of dear friends in Riverside and resolved to make the best of living there. Within two months of that resolve, I learned that we would be moving to Rancho Cucamonga…about 40 minutes away. Now, that’s such a long story that I won’t get into here, but it didn’t involve a job change and seemed like the best decision for our family. I did, however, fight it tooth and nail for reasons that I won’t go into on such a public forum…but just know that I had good reason to fight this decision. We did, however, make the move and I put on a happy face about it.
Moving to Rancho wasn’t all bad. I did, of course, have some friends here and would have a home with a garage and yard rather than a small apartment surrounded with concrete. I think, though, that I spent the first 4 months living here crying. I was struggling with postpartum depression, caring for our two children, trying to unpack and get settled, and still being bitter about the position I felt like we were in. I had my heart re-committed to moving out of California as quickly as humanly possible. Obviously God didn’t want me to get settled here. After all, as soon as I got comfortable, He moved us. So He just didn’t want me comfortable, right??
I did not make any of this easy on Josh. I would email him job openings from various websites all over the country. I would complain to pretty much anyone who would listen about my discontent living here. I realized, though, that my discontent wasn’t making me happier So, I resolved, once again, to being happy here and making the best of it. I would find a place to serve, a Bible Study to fit into, and would enjoy the friends that I have while I have them and make the best out of, what I felt to be, a temporary situation…no matter how temporary that might be.
My heart didn’t change, though, to a willingness to submit to Josh. My heart changed to just tolerate where I was and what position I found myself in. But that all changed when I heard Cheryl Brodersen‘s message that Saturday morning. I felt like this whole time I was telling God, “I would submit to Josh, but I don’t trust him. Clearly he can’t be hearing you correctly. I cannot fathom that you would want me in a place where I feel so completely alone and miserable. Josh is just ignoring my needs. He doesn’t even care. I don’t trust him so I’m going to fight him on this.” But God replied, “That’s not what I said. I said to submit to your husband and trust me.” Wow. Oops.
I am so thankful for theGracious Words that were imparted to me that morning. No joke, within the last few weeks of determining in my heart to submit to Josh and trust the Lord with this my life has changed. I have felt like a happier, more content person. I have begun to truly enjoy living in Southern California and feel I have become more of myself again. I no longer feel like my skin is crawling and my heart could burst out of anger at any moment due to where I find myself. I am choosing to submit to Josh and to trust God. We have also been able to enjoy a few more tangible blessings since then awe’ll and I believe they completely relate to this.
This doesn’t mean that I hope to live in Southern California for the rest of my life. I definitely am not hoping that at this point. But I’m not in such a great hurry to leave. I’m not blaming Josh for my unhappiness and for his unwillingness to pick up and move just because I want to.
Now, some people may get caught up in the frustration of “submitting” to someone or something. I feel this especially when you talk about a woman having to submit to her husband. However, most people who have hard feelings about this word submit have not really read the Bible. The Bible has countless verses about husbands and wives submitting to each other as well as verses calling husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. In the beginning, when God created man and woman he said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” God has called husbands to be loving, caring, gentle, and kind souls just as much as they are strong, leading souls. My marriage is supposed to represent the relationship that Jesus Christ has with his Church and the amazing love and direction between the two of them.
Please, if you struggle with this idea of submission, read the Bible. Pray that God would change your heart. Then, just wait for God to work in and through you…and praise Him as the blessings begin to flow in your life. I look back and mourn the blessings I might have had for the last three years had I not spent the majority of them fighting this. However, I look ahead andlook forward to the blessings that await as I continue to submit to Josh.