Biblical Feminism: Spiritual Submission

It’s been a while since I wrote a Biblical Feminism post due to life and changes (mostly good things). I’ve been wanting to talk about the idea of submission for a while. It was one of the first topics I came up with when I was brainstorming my other biblical feminism posts (Click here and here to read them), but honestly, there was a part of me that wondered how could I talk about something that I really had little experience in. I always want my posts to be authentic, and most of the time that comes when I have had personal experiences related to the topic. I felt like until recently, that me talking about submission in the context of a relationship wasn’t really fair until I had truly experienced it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I submit to my father since he is an authority figure, and I submit to God. But in both of those cases, it is a father figure that I am submitting to. It is someone who I know at all times has my best intentions in mind, especially when it doesn’t seem like it.

Until recently, I hadn’t really had to venture or wrestle with the idea of submitting to someone who is my peer, who sometimes may be selfish, and who could break my heart. It is a scary thought to be that vulnerable with someone. It means compromising and sometimes completely changing my way of thinking.

In Ephesians 5:22-24, Paul instructs Christian wives to submit to their husbands in the same way that they submit to the Lord.

Sounds great, right?

In our day and age the word submit within the context of a marriage tends to be interpreted as the wife being a doormat and going with whatever the husband wants. That she no longer possess the ability to make her own decisions about things, and instead must do whatever he wants.

That is absolutely not what God intended for a Biblical marriage to look like.

Remember that God made us as equals, but not the same. That means that us women have different roles than the men, particularly in the church. God’s plan was to set the husband as the spiritual leader of the household, and this is not because He sees women as inferior at all. So in Ephesians 5 when the wives are told to submit, it means that we are to follow the leadership of our future husbands and husbands (for those who are married already). We are not to be doormats. In fact when God created Eve for Adam, it was so that he had a helper, a partner. When a Christian marriage is in harmony it is a beautiful thing. There is a gentle give and take that happens where there is respect and honor given to both people involved.

So while this sounds all great and all, how does it stack up when it is actually put to the test? Like how easy is it to actually submit and not just say that I want to?

It’s not always easy. It isn’t easy because sometimes it does involve having to put your own wants or feelings on things down so that you can submit. But the beautiful thing about it is that, a godly man will not take advantage of this. Instead, he will work alongside you to help nurture and grow your relationship with God. Because at the end of the day, that is his job as the spiritual leader.

Submission can become a beautiful thing, just like when we submit to God.

Let’s be clear, I’m not telling you to be a doormat, but I’m also not telling you to be stubborn. Be a women who is filled with strength and dignity. In honoring whatever man is the spiritual leader of your household (whether your father or your husband), you are honoring God. That is the most beautiful picture of submission possible. It is when we lay down our agendas and agree to do the hard things that God can have a chance to take ahold of our hearts and work great things for Him.

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Why do I believe?

Recently, a friend of mine asked me how I could let my future rest in the hands of someone else. At first, I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but the more we talked I realized he was talking about God. While it took me a little by surprise, it was a good conversation, and it got me thinking. No one had really every asked me that sort of a question. Of course I’ve gotten the “what do I believe?” or the “how can you believe in a God?” The more I thought about this question, the more I realized it was more a why question which got me thinking.

Why do I believe in God? Why do I trust God with the plans for my life?

The simplest answer is hope and faith. At the root of it, I have faith that what I’ve been taught about the Bible and God is true. Believing in God also gives me hope because I believe that despite everything going on, there is God who has everything under control. That is a lot more reassuring then looking at life without that hope. It would be very easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on in the world, particularly all the bad things, and sometimes despite my best efforts, I look at things and feel hopeless. But then I return back to the promises in the Bible and am reminded that the Earth will see restoration and justice.

That hope is why I believe what I believe. I have also seen the way the God works in seemingly terrible circumstances. That is the reason why I trust God’s direction in my life. I’ve been faced with hard circumstances that ultimately shaped me into who I am today. My human reaction in every single one of those moments was directly opposite of what God was telling me to do, whether it was run when I should stay or stay when I should run.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe in God because in this world, at least I can have hope because of my belief in Him. I trust His direction because he has never failed me yet. And maybe that makes me crazy, but at the end of the day, I would rather have Him on my side then try to make it through this world alone. It might not make sense to someone else, but it makes sense to me.

It takes faith to believe in anything. My faith happens to be in the God of the Bible.

Embrace the Suck

Embrace the suck. This phrase was first introduce to me as a mantra during my backpacking trip over the summer. Our guide looked at all of us as we were in our last day of orientation before heading into the jungle and told us three things: we are all going to smell bad by the end of the week, it is going to suck at times, but embrace the suck, and finally to have fun. That always stuck me as weird: embrace the suck but have fun. That trip showed me what it meant, especially our last day as we hiked out of the jungle.

But more recently, this saying has taken on a different meaning in a different context. In the last week or so, Joey and I have exited the “honeymoon phase” as I’ve been calling it. We’ve settled into our respective routines and general business of work, but that also means that we’ve established a routine in our relationship. We text “good morning” and “good night” at a minimal, but most days we have been able to talk on the phone. Instead of going back and forth with questions like we had been, we’ve settled into talking about our days and frustrating or exciting things that have happened. It feels normal which is actually a really cool feeling.

But with that routine comes the obvious observation everyday that we are not in the same place. I don’t get to get home from work and be able to talk to him in person. If either of us have had a rough day, we most definitely talk on the phone, but we can’t even hug each other. It may not seem like a big deal, but it really sucks.

We knew what we were getting into when we started this, so there is really only two options: give up or embrace the suck. I’m choosing the latter. This last week, especially, it has been really hard on both of us. We haven’t seen each other for about two weeks. Typically at this point, we start our countdown because we get to see each other soon, but instead we just hit the one month mark until we get to see each other again…and it really sucks.

But by embracing the suck these last few days, we’ve had some really good conversations that we won’t have had if either one of us had just given up. And I wouldn’t trade this for anything. He is so worth embracing the suck.

So I guess the point of this is that sometimes things in life feel like you are trudging through mud or just trying to survive to the next day. I’ve been there and am there right now. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air, embrace the suck. The parts of life that are hard challenge and shape us.

Joey and I are having to work extra on communication and coming up with things to talk about. Sometimes, it would be easier to just not text back because I am exhausted from working and talking to him makes me miss him even more. But 100% of the time, those are the days that we have amazing conversations. And I know that in a month when I see him again, all of this missing him and wishing he was here will be so worth it. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing I would rather be doing and no one I would rather be on this journey with.

Oh, Where is My Hairbrush?

Since I have a new boyfriend when people first find out their first question is “How did you meet?” This typically isn’t a question requiring a long answer, but for Joey and I how we met spills into how we got together, since they were two different things. So what should be a quick answer turns into an hour long explanation (for me) or a two hour explanation (for him, not sure what he says lol). So instead of having to repeat the story, I figured it would be easier to just writing a blog post about it so in the future we can just direct people to this.

So how did Joey and I meet?

 

First, I need to introduce two very important people: My lovely college roommate, Lindsay and her (now) husband, Aaron. Without these two, Joey and I wouldn’t have met.

Two years ago, when I was getting ready to transfer to CBU, I met Lindsay or rather I started texting with Lindsay because she was going to be the third roommate for our three person apartment. What I didn’t know is how close Lindsay and I would get over our next two years of living together.

When move-in day finally rolled around, I was so excited to meet her. Our friendship grew, and she became one of my best friends. We did life together not just because we lived together but because we wanted to.

Last year, Aaron proposed to her. When I found out, I might have screamed a little. Lindsay asked me to be in the wedding which of course I said yes to.

Enter Joey.

So I first met Joey, ironically, over the phone probably in January (can’t remember exactly when). We exchanged hellos over the phone and went on with my dinner preparation while Aaron and Lindsay talked to him on the phone. At the moment, I didn’t really think anything about it. He seemed nice, and I figured I would get along with him.

February rolls around, and it was time for the wedding shower for Aaron and Lindsay. This is where Joey and I met for the very first time in person. In all honesty, I’m pretty sure all we said to each other was “Nice to meet you in person”. I had a lot of friends from CBU who were in attendance so I hung out with them for the most part.

As the part was winding down, it was mostly just us college aged kids hanging out and sharing stories about Aaron and Lindsay. By that point, I was pretty tired, and as everyone started to talk more, I got quieter. In larger groups, I like to just listen. The longer everyone talked, the more Joey talked. By the end of the time, my impression of him was that he was nice, but boy did he talk a lot. He and I joke about it now, but in the moment, I was like he talks a little too much.

The shower ended, and school became the focus as Lindsay, Aaron, and I inched towards graduation. Once school was over, then we were only a month from the wedding.

I had offered to come down the week before the wedding to help Lindsay with any last minute things. In typical Bethany mode, I forgot something at home. I left my hairbrush at home and had to buy one for that week. We had a super fun week leading up to the wedding, and Lindsay and I started talking about who was standing up on Aaron’s side of the wedding (I had only met Joey and Chris at that point). We were on our way to the rehearsal at this point so I wanted to make sure I knew the name of who I was paired with as well as who else I was going to meet.

The next two days were a whirlwind as we had the rehearsal and then the wedding. For the most part, my focus was making sure Aaron and Lindsay were not stressed and had a good time. In doing so, I interacted a lot with Joey, especially the morning of the wedding. Neither one of us where thinking much of it. I hardly blinked when he asked me to dance, and the fact that we talked a good portion of the reception. I left the venue at the end for the six plus hour drive home. It wasn’t until I was in Ventura that I realized I had left my hairbrush (the same hairbrush I had to buy at the beginning of the week).

It wasn’t until I was driving home and talking to my mom on the phone did I think about dancing with Joey and how much I enjoyed talking with him. But me being ever so practical didn’t really want to think too much about it. I wanted to make sure that my interest or potential interest wasn’t just because we had been at a wedding, so I decided to wait before doing anything about it.

The rest of the weekend went by, and I couldn’t get the interaction out of my head. On Monday, I decided to do something because I was still interested in the possibility of whatever that interaction was. Except, I had no way to contact him…

For the most part, I am not the girl who makes the first move. That’s so not my personality, but this time around, I decided to make the first move. So I texted Lindsay…to ask for his number. She gave me his number, and for a little bit, I wondered if I should text him or not. So I decided to text him, thinking that the worse that could happen is that nothing comes from it. But I was clever, and I knew he had been one of the last people at the venue, so I framed contacting him by asking if he had found my hairbrush that was now missing.

About two weeks later and a lot of text messages, he asked me out. We still don’t know what happened to my hairbrush, but at this point, neither one of us really care where it went.

When he reads this, he’ll probably be like you left out a lot of the good parts, but I wanted this too not be too long.

Broken Glass

So, I recently wrote about finding the beauty in the unexpected, particularly the bittersweet unexpected experiences, and the good in goodbyes. However, as much as I would like to say that I can always find the beauty or the good in not so good situations, sometimes I’m left standing staring at the shattered pieces without any clue on how to put it back together. Sometimes, there are times where I can’t fathom a good thing coming out of something terrible, and I don’t even have an idea of how to respond or what to do next. I feel like I’m walking around in a fog, running scenarios over in my head and trying to figure out where things went wrong.

I’m not always the most trusting person. There has been several different situations in my life which caused me to put up a lot of barriers and walls that people have to either climb over or break down. I’m also more reserved and introverted so it takes a lot for me to be vulnerable with someone else. And even once I become friends with someone, I almost have different levels of friendships. (It’s something my friends and I will joke about.) I love all of my friends, but I only have a few close friends (my “Jonathans” as I like to call them) that I really share life with. These are the girls that I invite into not just my house, but into my home and my family. They are the girls who I consider sisters.

Now, life with them isn’t always a walk in the park (but for the most part it is), and sometimes, I will have conflict with them. But they are all believers so generally when one of us says something stupid or hurtful, it is easy for us to mend fences and address the problem. We’ve always come out stronger friends as a result.

But recently, I had a situation with one of these girls that left me hurt, confused, and feeling about an inch tall. Somehow, a situation I thought was resolved truly wasn’t resolved, but I had no idea. Now, I was left in the aftermath, staring at the shattered pieces of a friendship that had no hopes of being put back together.

So now, what?

At first, I pretended it wasn’t a big deal. I shed a few tears of frustration with my mom who knew about the situation, but I told myself that I would get over it. But then the doubt set it. Things were said about me that made no sense, but I started to believe them. I was suddenly overanalyzing everything I said and did because I was so scared of these labels becoming something true, but I still tried to make it look like it wasn’t a big deal. I tried to act normal, but at the same time, I pulled in on myself and threw up some of my walls again. I honestly thought that if I ignored how I was feeling, but also made sure that I carefully monitored everything I said and did, it would all go away.

Surprise, surprise, it didn’t go away. So I was forced to look down at the shattered pieces at my feet to attempt to figure out how it could all go back together. I wondered if maybe what she said was true and maybe I needed to apologize again. I talked it over with my mom and went over every single detail, trying so desperately to understand where she was coming from. I wanted so badly to fix it that I almost felt like I was kneeling over a shattered crystal vase, trying to superglue the pieces back together.

While I knelt there trying to glue pieces back together despite my bleeding fingers, I realized that no matter how hard I tried, it would not look the same when I finished. My hurt feelings and her hurt feelings would be smeared so badly across the friendship that there was no way we could look through it. There comes a point in trying to repair something like a vase that there is no way to do it. I had never faced that in regards to a friendship, but after a lot of tears and prayers, I realized that as much as I wanted to find the beauty or good in the situation, I needed to take a step back from the mess.

God gently pried the superglue from my bloody hands and knelt down next to me. He swept the shattered pieces together before reaching for my hands. Gently, He whispered reminders of who I was and how much I was loved before sweeping away the mess at my feet with a promise that He would take care of it.

The hardest thing now is to remember that this didn’t happen because of a failure on my part, and it also wasn’t because I was any of those things that she said I was. Her opinion of me cannot be allowed to control me.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes unexpected things happen that completely take us by surprise and leave us feeling lost as we stare at the mess that was made. That’s okay. We can’t always see the way that God is working through our circumstances in the moment, but I know one day I will look back on this situation and see God’s hand through all of it. It can take some time to wash the blood and grit away and to let the hurt feelings mellow out before we can see the beauty or good of something like this.

The Beauty in the Unexpected

Some things in life we come to expected. We know what to expect when we go to work or when we go to class. Our routines become expected. Even the little things like traffic become expected. Routine can be good, but sometimes I find that after a week of routine, I’ve lost some of the joy. Routine can make us complacent or too comfortable. We begin to fail to notice the simple beauties in life. I’ve found that recently right when I get to the point of complacence, God tends to throw something unexpected towards me. Sometimes it is something big like a new job or a relationship, but more often, it is something small that reminds me of God’s hand, like seeing a pod of Humpback whales from the freeway on our way home or standing at the base of a waterfall crashing thunderously down the side of a mountain.

However, the unexpected isn’t always fun things or cool things. Sometimes it is the bittersweet experiences like a deployment or the ending of a friendship. While these things may seem like a downer, there is still some incredible beauty that can be found in them. For me, the beauty is found when God shifts me out of my comfort zone, but this fact wasn’t something I always embraced. In fact until college, I absolutely hated anything that remotely forced me out of my comfort zone.

God keep nudging me, but I kept ignoring it. Then came college, and I was forced to step out of my comfort zone. I won’t bore you with all the details of being pushed into the uncomfortable and unexpected, but I will tell you that many of the experience that came as a result should be the beauty of creation as well as the beauty of humanity.

Most recently, I’ve had two experiences that were unexpected (to an extent on one of the them) that showed me the beauty both in the good unexpected as well as the not so great unexpected.

The first experience was my college roommate’s wedding. If you read my last post, you know that I have a new boyfriend. I met him at my college roommate’s wedding (He was the best man). I didn’t go into the wedding looking for a boyfriend, but I did go into the wedding expecting one thing and instead had a totally unexpected week leading up to it. But the beauty in it was watching my sweet roommate marry the love of her life as well meeting Joey. So obviously in this situation, the beauty in the unexpected was positive and didn’t take much prodding for me to step into the uncomfortable.

The second experience was much harder, and honestly, I went into it not expecting anything from it besides tears. My father recently deployed once again, and we knew that it was coming (so not all that unexpected). It was a divergence from our normal routine. It was also a strange feeling leading up to it. This time instead of being the high school senior, I was a college graduate watching him leave once more. I’ve already talked about the good in goodbyes, but this time there was something different as we stood in that parking lot saying goodbye.

This time, I had no doubt that my mom and I could handle this. I’m not still 100% sure what the beauty is completely in this deployment, but what I do know is that it has allowed my mom and I to grow closer already. It has also forced me already to trust God even more. For me, the bittersweetness of his departure is part of the beauty. It is that reminder that my dad loves us so much. This departure isn’t him leaving us, but rather him continuing to provide for us. It doesn’t make sense to most people, but to us, it is our life. That is the simple beauty in it. This way of life forces us to take a look at all the little things and make sure we don’t take it for granted.

Instead of rolling my eyes when my dad texts me, there is a joy in hearing the text tone for him. It’s hearing the “Imperial March” and dropping everything to answer his phone calls. It’s the beauty in the unexpected.

Goodbye Single Pringle

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly three months since I last posted. Normally, summer time gives me more time to blog, but for some reason this year, my summer has already been so hectic. Since I last blogged, I’ve graduated college (Woohoo!), watched one of my dear friends marry the love of her life (Goals!), visited Oregon and Washington (graduation present to myself), backpacked through the Amazon jungle (#1 item on my bucket list), and most excitingly, meet my amazing boyfriend in all of that craziness. At this point if we were sitting in my living room, my mom would lean over and make some comment about being all lovey-dovey. I would probably pretend to be annoyed, but in reality, I am beyond overjoyed.

Many of you have been following my series titled “Single Pringle”, so you know all about my journey when it comes to singleness. I am so excited to start sharing this new adventure and what I learn from it with you guys. Looking back at when I first started this blog a little over a year ago, I realized that I had a lot to learn and circumstances to grow from before I was really ready to say goodbye to being a single pringle.

God’s timing works perfectly to prepare and protect us. If I had met Joey sooner, I wouldn’t have been ready and might have hurt both of us in the process. I guess what I am trying to say is that singleness can sometimes suck in the moment, especially when everyone else around you seems to be pairing up or the pressure of finding someone in college gets to be too much, but singleness can also prepare your heart. For me, it not only prepared my heart but it also provided a chance for my heart to heal. Singleness can also gave me a chance to fall back in love with God in a way that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. My heart and Joey’s heart for God gives us a firm footing to stand on as we pursue this relationship. Instead of tamping out my heart for God, he encourages and challenges my pursuit of God something previous relationships lacked.

Reading this, you might be rolling your eyes for one of two reasons: I’m being really sappy (blame that one on my boyfriend) or you are were I was a year ago, wanting so badly to be in a relationship but God saying patiently, “Not yet”. Trust God’s timing and pursue Him. He has the best plan for you, and when you put your trust in Him, He blesses you in ways you weren’t expecting. So if you are rolling your eyes for the second reason, don’t lose hope. Cling to God. He will never let you down, and His plans are greater than ours. Now, if you are rolling your eyes for the first reason, can’t really help you with that one. I’ll probably continue to be sappy so bear with me.

I’m so excited for this next adventure and seeing what God has in store for us. It will definitely be an adventure with 361 miles between us (and yes I mapped it out). I can’t wait to share what I learn from it with you all.