The Spiritual Discipline of Submitting: Not Getting What You Want, But What You Need

A disclaimer, of sorts: This isn’t a note about reclaiming submission as a good ideal or doing away altogether with submitting to one another. While I do believe “submission” has gotten a bad rap, it’s also clear through friends and others that abuse far to often occurs because of evil attitudes and behavior that masquerade as submission. This is neither.

What I want to say, to you and to myself, is to hold lightly to how life and work and ministry or whatever will turn out. They will be good, because the yearning of the universe is one of justice, mercy and peace. It will ultimately be good and lovely even though it may be messy and ugly. The kingdom will be on earth as it is in heaven, some day in completion. But “how” that will happen, only God knows. And this is where I can become scared, and then if I don’t submit, anxious. Perhaps the way then is through submitting?

Submitting to God in Jesus and knowing that I am also beloved.

Submitting to one another in love, while still loving God and our neighbor as ourself.

Submitting to speak the truth in love and act justly.

It’s a paradox, but when I submit this way I actually experience something greater. Life everlasting. Peace that passes understanding. I may not get what I want, but I get what I need. (I know I’m not the first, but thanks Rolling Stones.) Our neighbor’s response might not be what we hoped, but the story – including their story – is not over.

It really does seem that laying down one’s life in love means that life is returned. We just might not know the detailed outcomes along the way, but we can buoyed by peace and knowing the heavenly outcome is secure. Because, well, because we are beloved.


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