What Honky Tonk Taught Me About Submission
One of my favorite things to do is take country dance lessons with my husband. I’m sure you’ve heard everything’s bigger in Texas, and Ft. Worth is home to the largest Honkytonk in the world: Billy Bob’s, so that’s where we go to learn. We aren’t very good. In fact, we keep taking the beginner lesson over and over because we forget how to do it. After a rough patch in our marriage, a Biblical counselor had suggested we find a hobby we could enjoy together, so we started dancing. (We tried golf, but my husband is really good at it, and apparently, if I pick up my ball and throw it to where I wish it had gone … that’s not OK.)
In case you’ve never tried partner dancing, please don’t assume it’s easy. It’s not. On the first night we went to Billy Bob’s to check it out, we watched the various couples on the dance floor and soon concluded the way a couple dances together tells a story about their relationship. There were couples shouting and arguing and other couples stomping all over each other. There were stiff-armed twosomes a vast distance apart, awkwardly looking more like Frankensteins than dance partners, avoiding eye contact at all cost. The couples who were the most fun to watch, though, were the couples who looked like they were gliding along quietly and effortlessly. She spun away from him without a word, and he quickly regained her hand. These couples changed direction with a glance and held each other close. What was the difference? Were they just more experienced dancers? Or did they know a secret?
I began to realize partner dancing is a great metaphor for Godly submission. (Stay with me here. I know it seems like a stretch.)
When it was our turn to take a lesson, the first thing we were taught is the man is the leader. The man directs and guides the woman. He decides when to turn, when to stop, and when to go. He sets the tempo. He protects her from danger by steering her away from trouble. With a slight touch of his hand, the man communicates the next step.
Whoa! Stop right there! I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere before.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything,” (Ephesians 5:22-24, NIV).
When I was growing up, I thought submission was a dirty word. As a strong female, I associated submission with being told what to do and how to do it. I wanted no part of that! Early on in my career, I only submitted to the bosses I respected. I certainly didn’t see my husband as my leader. We were equals, right? However, Scripture tells us to be submissive. Whether we are married or not, we all have authorities over us, including government, bosses, and spiritual leaders. We have to decide if we are going to quarrel over leadership, or fall into step in our appropriate place.
On the dance floor, some women constantly turn their heads to look out for where they are going, inevitably contributing to a disastrous trip or misstep. I want to warn her, “Girl, you are NOT supposed to be leading right now. Your job is to trust the one who is leading you!” Hmmmm … that sounds suspiciously like how I try to control my own future, not trusting God to lead me. When I relax and allow myself to be gently directed, it always works out better.
Then comes the underlying fear. What if my leader makes a mistake? Sometimes my husband gets distracted. He is so busy counting or looking at his feet, he forgets to watch where we’re going. We have been known to bump into things or people on the dance floor. (THAT’S why we wear boots!) The great thing is, when something like that happens, he takes total accountability.
When we think about our marriage as a partner dance, there are many things that have been distractions throughout our 25 years and have threatened to knock us down. There are times when I have worn too big a hat to come under his protective arm and times when he focused too much on himself and forgot to think of me. There have even been times when other people have tried to cut in, or our dance floor has simply been too crowded by others vying for space. Sometimes, we go too fast and forget to rest, or conversely, we sit out too long and miss that great song that would have been the best experience for us.
Unlike my dancing partner, God never makes a mistake. We can count on that.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
I can fully trust God and rely on Him to lead me. He always makes me look good. I only have to follow him without letting myself get in the way. When I’m in sync with God, my life is a thing of beauty to watch. I fall into the gentle rhythm of His grace.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly,” (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
God’s authority is easy and good. I am my best me when I follow God’s plan for submission to the authorities He’s given me. I’m my best wife, my best mom, my best worker, my best servant, and my best citizen when I submit. Besides, staying in God’s rhythm makes life just plain FUN.
What about you? Do you resist the authorities in your life? Do you see your husband as your gentle leader? Is there an area of your faith, career, or relationships that needs to be surrendered to authority? What FUN are you missing because you refuse to be led?
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