“Vulnerable Submission: The Fear of Exploitation”

Years before I pledged my wedding vows to my husband I went on a journey of self discovery that changed my life and my perspective of it forever.  During this journey I was led to read/listen to the Bible (NIV) from the very first word on the very first page of the very first book to the very last word on the very last page of the very last book.  For all those who believe that it’s not necessary to read the entire Bible, I completely and utterly disagree.  Many of us will sit in classrooms for well over 12yrs, complete countless textbooks and read a multitude of other required readings and still not comprehend the urgency to read the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth but remain spinning in circles believing they’ll stumble upon the answers eventually.  Prior to my journey, I believed the same, but reading the entire Bible cracked open a box in my psyche that I wasn’t even aware I had.  One of my most prized discoveries surrounded relationships, more specifically, what it means to be a “submissive” wife.

According to Ephesians 5:22-24….”Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing,” the most basic attribute of a good wife is a submissive one.  The idea of submission has always been a source of anguish for both men and women.  Some men use it as their justification to become relationship dictators and some women use it as a means to an end and settle into a completely dependent lifestyle.  The idea of submission seems to be interpreted as one extreme or the other, but what was the intent?

At a recent Bible Study meeting for married couples, we were asked to decipher our understanding of the above passage.  As I was listening to everyone’s response, awaiting my turn, a soft whisper caught my attention, “it means to be vulnerable”.  Well, that gave me a very different perspective than I’d considered in the past.  I decided to read the scripture as so….”Wives, be vulnerable unto your husbands, as unto the Lord…,” the effect of this change definitely resonated with me.  Women, in general, long to find someone they can be vulnerable with.  Most of us tell our entire life stories to strangers as soon as we reach a certain level of comfort.  Women value bestfriends because that’s someone they can share everything with.  Some women describe the experience having children as the creation of someone they can love and who will love them unconditionally.   These women have the expectation that their children will accept their flaws.   We (women) are continually searching for connections that will allow them to be vulnerable without judgement, we’re wired that way, which isn’t a bad thing.  What if, God created marriage as a safety net for a woman to freely express vulnerability to her husband, the (human) being who has a direct link to God?

I can honestly say that there is no man or woman, walking this Earth, that can say they know me as well as or better than my husband.  My friends know how I am as a friend, they were there during many of my journeys of discovery and triumph.  My family knows as much as I’m able to reveal but they’ll always see me as daughter and sister so their views are limited, they’ll never know the woman I’ve become.  My husband, he knows me as friend, as a partner, as a confidant, and we’re bonded as family for life.  My husband will never know my past but my present is his gift and my future will be his privilege if God allows us both to experience it.  Vulnerability is something I’ve always struggled with, especially in my romantic relationships.  In the past, I’ve been accused of being cold or heartless because certain things didn’t affect me.  When something didn’t make logical sense, I expressed little to no emotional attachment to it.  For example, if I was dating someone for a period of time and I discovered they cheated on me, my logic might say, “well, it’s not like you were engaged or married so cry your tears and move on;” of course, this was just a generalized idea of how I would think.  On the day that I met my husband time face to face, he opened the door to his apartment and I immediately felt like I was home.  After my (now) husband and I began dating, “vulnerable” became my middle name because it made logical sense.

I don’t know what switch God turned on the day I first encountered my future husband, but I wonder, do all single women of God have that same switch?  I truly believe, based on my experience, that every woman is waiting for that switch to go to it’s “on” position. She’ll try to reach it herself, if it doesn’t happen fast enough, sometimes to the point of accepting less than her worth.  To be vulnerable to your life partner is such a wonderful blessing; thus to have someone, appointed by God, that you have the freedom to be submissive to is such an honor.  I’m glad God took the time to speak to me, a newlywed, about what it means to be a wife.  I pray that I will never forget how valuable a gift vulnerability is, the honor of submission, and the blessing of understanding.

 

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