Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Confessions of a well-loved woman

In Ephesians, Paul tells wives and husbands to be "subject, one to another" before he goes on to define each one's role in marriage. This is an important (oft ignored) clause because it puts everything that follows into perspective. I also like that, after this admonition, Paul starts with the men and tells them to "love your wives as your own body, and be willing to die for her as Christ died for his church." To paraphrase, self-sacrifice is the name of the husband game. Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than this, to lay down his life for a friend." Paul is re-emphasizing this, and I think, broadening it. In my opinion, this isn't talking about actual physical death. This is emptying yourself, giving yourself to building up the life of another...the physical life, the emotional life, and the spiritual life.

Paul then goes on to tell women to respect their husbands and be subject to them. The husband is the "federal head" of the family as Christ is the Church. Marriage is a type of the "mystical union" of Christ and body, the church. But that "S-word" gives us all the heebie-jeebies and there's a tendency to throw the whole book of Ephesians (and perhaps Paul) out the window and slam it shut!

I have to confess that is doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies...and that's not because I'm a brainwashed fundamentalist woman content to live a subservient life while the man of the family calls the shots. Oh no. I'm the strong-willed type married to a fairly mild-mannered man. I've always known the danger of my stronger personality (read extroverted, pushy type) overrunning his. It could have happened, and our story could be very different, except for three things (besides the grace of God, but that's a given for me).

  1. I had already been in a failed marriage and had learned some important things. Things like you don't change people and you don't count on someone else to make you happy.
  2. We received some good pre-marital counseling from a pastor whose personality was similar to Will's and who was happily married for 30+ years to a woman with a strong personality.
  3. I married a man who daily lays down his life for me.
That third point is the key. It is why the talk of submission and headship have always seemed to make sense. Will is my biggest fan, my cheerleader, and my passionate admirer. He thinks I'm smart, sexy, and capable. He wants the best for me every day. He came into our marriage with an important attitude: he chooses to always think the best of me and my actions. That's his starting point. What has happened to me over the years is a wonderful thing... that love has made me more loving; the trust, more trusting; the faith, more faithful; the joy, more joyful; and the passion, more passionate. I'm growing into his vision of me.

I'm Will's partner and friend. There is no thought of who makes what decisions. We haven't marked off any territories in our lives together. I make the decisions I need to make as my days go by. I consult him when I want or need an opinion and he does the same. I guess we naturally seek out each other's opinions because we respect each other. I don't worry about what curriculum I buy to teach our children, what food choices I make, or if I should spend the money to go to lunch with friends. It all comes down to mutual trust. I know Will has my best interests and those of the kids, at heart all the time. It's his nature, he doesn't have to make himself think about it any more than I have to.

Mutual respect makes mutual submission easier. Being well-loved makes seeing Will as the head of the family painless. When the leader is first and foremost a servant, you aren't afraid of his leading. I can't imagine Will making a decision I disagreed with, but I know he's had to make decisions when I couldn't make them, when I've left it up to him because I trust him.

I asked him recently, teasingly, why he married me. His response was immediate, "Big boobs and a good mind. With those assets I knew I wouldn't get bored." Twenty-three years and six pregnancies have flattened the chest, expanded the waist, and added twenty pounds to my frame. But he still thinks I'm sexy. Hopefully, my mind has improved!

I think I'm living an Ephesians' marriage. I'm a well-loved woman. (But I don't think I'm going to let him get new glasses, just in case!)


SusansPlace said...

This makes me smile, Carrie! I admire your marriage. :-)
And yes, #3 makes the rest of Ephesians marriage guidelines possible.


Ampersand said...

Carrie, this was so wonderful to read. It blesses me to know your examples of the full expression of that scripture.

Katrina365 said...

Carrie, this made me smile. You did a great job of describing how that scripture passage works in real life. :)

Dancingirl365 said...

Carrie, I love this! Every bit, but especially the last sentence! ;-)

Paula said...

Thanks Carrie, what an encouragement!