Really think about these two things for a moment. Maybe it’s on my mind because I have two babies under 14 months and chaos abounds, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Bible says that God is a god of order. And what is order really? Above all else I know that my fruitfulness as a wife, a mother, a worker, and a servant is directly proportional to the amount of order present in my life. It makes sense that order is right; everything functions better within it.
So a few days ago Bruce seemed irritated with me, and he started acted irritable to the point of being unkind. He left to run an errand, and I decided to text him about how we had left things. I tried to think of how I wanted to state my case: to describe how his actions were hurtful, defend where I was coming from, and explain what I felt was unfair… it all honestly made me feel very tired, especially while juggling an infant and pre-toddler. I knew I would go to a lot of trouble to say all of those things diplomatically, only to have my words come out wrong and/or be received poorly. I could almost guarantee it, and I just didn’t have the energy to waste. Nonetheless, we needed to be right with each other so doing nothing was also not an option. Suddenly it dawned on me that I did NOT need to state my case; I merely needed to let him know how I felt and ask him what he wants me to do about it. He is the boss, so his word is final… Changing my focus to simply meeting his expectations rather than how to align my expectations with his surprisingly felt clear and even freeing. Rather than wrack my brain to find the most concise and diplomatic way to speak my mind, I simply texted: “The way you’re treating me feels unloving- if I’ve been disrespectful to cause that please let me know what I’ve done so I can avoid doing it again.” Sure enough, he had been feeling disrespected. Of course we were both misinterpreting each other’s actions, but discussing that in detail would have led us down a defensive and destructive road. And we didn’t have to go there since the goal was much simpler than that: we merely needed to get right again based on his expectations. He told me what he felt I had done wrong, and before I could launch into defending myself and what I had meant, I remembered the goal and merely asked what I should do differently in the future. Oddly enough, focusing only on that eventually enabled both of us to understand the other more fully. I won’t pretend the whole exchange was easy or that we handled it perfectly because it wasn’t and we didn’t. Even still, things were made infinitely simpler (and got us back to adequately loving and respecting each other much faster) by maintaining this hierarchy, this order within our marriage.
Order… one of us has to be the boss; we absolutely have equal value, but only one of us can be the head. Two heads don’t work. And he is the one who has to be the head because, though society works hard to smother it, God planted a desire within him to lead and a desire within me to submit. Why is that so politically incorrect? Because secular society does not understand equal worth outside of sameness. Sincere Christianity understands it perfectly: we are all sinful, all sins are the same, Jesus paid for every single one of us… we all have true worth in God’s eyes, and not one person matters more than another. When that is truly and deeply clear, having different strengths and weaknesses isn’t frustrating or offensive, it’s beautiful. I admit I’m still programmed to forget, but the more moments of clarity I have the more I glimpse the true perfection of the whole system, and the more I want to function within that perfection. I trust my husband’s leadership, but more significantly I trust my Creator’s system. Bruce isn’t always a perfect leader and I am often an imperfect submissive, but this system of order has never failed us. (It should go without saying, but to be clear I am not saying that God’s design specifically encompasses marital spanking and discipline; they are just one flawed human implementation of His perfect design.) I think about the friction and confusion that existed in our marriage before we honed in on all of this, and I can’t believe the difference. We did have moments of clarity before, but they were interspersed with confusion and frustration that was often aimed at each other. If I’m honest with myself there was a fair amount of anger, hurt, miscommunication, bitterness, and disconnect. The system of two heads just didn’t work. His leadership and my submission may be far from perfect. And if we’re discussing flaws then really the entire idea of Domestic Discipline may well fall into that category. But there is no question in my mind that imperfection within a perfect system is far superior to any kind of functioning in a system that quite simply does not work.