Posted by Christine Burrows
Let’s break it down. Sub= below. Mission = calling, duty. To put oneself below or under the calling or duty which one answers.
Huh? Not words or concepts that resonate in today’s culture. In fact, they seem rather contrary to the contemporary spirit of individualism, independence, and self-promotion. How do we begin to discuss submitting to God or our spouse, when the concept of submission isn’t one most of us often consider? I started with a surrender…
Several years ago, I read Surrendering to Motherhood: Losing your Mind, Finding Your Soul, by Iris Krasnow. Krasnow was a journalist with 4 boys under the age of 4 when Ethel Kennedy finally returned her call for an interview. She was hip deep in little boy issues, and simultaneously trying to focus on conducting the interview. It was bad timing, to say the least. Finally, Ethel said, “You go do what’s important,” and hung up on her. Iris was devastated, but went on to describe this incident as a catalyst for her surrendering to her calling as mother.
I understood her conundrum. I had 4 kids under 7 at the time, and was doing some balancing of my own – unwilling to surrender one vocation for another. Krasnow’s story made me smile, and I wondered who would need to hang up on me to give me the push to prioritize my callings, and to do so without resentment.
My own surrender was just beginning.
Flash forward to my first exposure to Theology of the Body. I’m pretty sure I was pregnant with our third child when I first heard a woman give a talk at a retreat about Theology of the Body. I definitely didn’t get it. Even though I was a “practicing” Catholic, I had never heard anyone bring God into the marital embrace like this woman did. I thought I was doing well by being a faithful wife, and being willing to have more than 2 babies, albeit on our schedule. While I may have been surrendering to my vocation of motherhood, I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of submission. I’d say at that point, I was a controlled submissive. I controlled when and how I submitted to God’s will in our marriage.
Thank God for women like my sister who desired more knowledge and were bold enough to want to share what they learned. These true evangelists are responsible for spreading the beautiful messages of Theology of the Body my way. As I learned more, I became more inspired to share, and more submissive to God. It radically changed the way I viewed my husband, my vocation as a mother, our family, my call to evangelization, and my love for our faith.
Through the grace of God and the courage of these evangelists, I slowly found peace in submitting to God’s plan for me and my marriage. How many children we have, where we end up living, how much income we generate, how we manage challenges like illness and financial stress, etc. – all managed by peacefully surrendering to God and trusting in his divine providence.
This week I heard a news update about how fewer people are marrying. The analyst spoke about how fewer men want to marry, and perhaps that’s because women have become more aggressive (their words, not mine). Something in this story made me think about that reluctance to submissiveness that we as a culture have. Rather, we have a stronger drive for independence and self-determination. Yet, if we could pause to think about WHO we are submitting to, and from whom we are asserting our independence, this might change. If we openly submit to God, we would desire to enter into the most sacred union God has created for us – marriage.
Surrendering, submitting, and accepting God’s will. It’s so incredibly humbling! But in that humility, there is grace and joy. I strongly encourage all of us to give it a try by taking baby steps in our marriages. Seek a moment in prayer to ask God for His will in your relationship, and see where that selflessness takes you and your spouse.