It was as I was driving to Khalida’s house, after spending some time at the Starbucks off Walter Reed Rd. praying for Anna and for the people God desired to reach through her, that I became overwhelmed by yet again another attack on my emotions.
So, I’ve realized that words mean things (what??? yep), and specifically that the word “attack” is a pretty strong word to use depending on the context. The word is defined as “
That definition is what I mean here.
The week prior to this point in time, Jake and I reached a pretty serious and difficult time in the deployment. We both felt very disconnected and wounded, struggling with deep shame, and fear. The issue that came up in our relationship with each other was not one on which we agreed, and I was hurt and felt deeply betrayed, and how this issue was resolved would determine the nature of the rest of this deployment. I spent about five days fasting and praying and trying to figure out what God wanted me to do, since Jake and I were at odds with each other. The phrase that kept coming up in my thoughts was “It’s not submission until you disagree.”
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
And so, even though I wasn’t settled on how I felt about the issue, I chose to obey God by submitting to Jake, trusting God to protect and preserve me, despite my emotions and anxieties…I can’t expect God to lead Jake in our marriage and in his life if I’m not trusting God to lead him by submitting. I can’t refuse to submit and thus take control of the relationship. I can’t stand in the way of God leading Jacob. I can’t expect Jake to obey God as his ultimate Leader if I’m not submitting to him as God has designed…that just doesn’t make sense to me…
My submission dispelled shame for Jake, set him free to lead, and empowered him to move forward in loving me, if that makes sense. But, you guys, this was SO hard…When military wives told me that deployments suck, I didn’t realize that this is what they meant, and while I knew marriage would be difficult, and even prayed for difficulty and the ability to withstand it, I never knew just how dark things could get. Submitting to Jake in this area, in this way, felt like this: I was standing on the edge of a high cliff in the dark, my back to the open space below, and someone walked up to me and told me, even though I couldn’t see it, there was a net below that would catch me, and I turned and free fell off the cliff.
Almost immediately after I’d talked to Jake about this, confessing my submission to him and trust in his leadership, and after we were okay and were rebuilding intimacy and trust, I spent the next few days being overwhelmed by lies from the enemy.
“You’re being used and taken advantage of.”
“This obviously isn’t an equal partnership if you’re expected to just go along with everything.”
“You are only worth what you can give, and you are set up in a life where you will constantly give and will never be loved in return.”
And I wondered, as these attacks came, and I took the piercing sting of the lies by the Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16), if the enemy pushed against me particularly because I chose to obey and submit, in a world where “submission” associated with women is taboo. In other words, was the enemy pushing back hard because of my obedience?
As I drove to Khalida’s, I sobbed over the steering wheel, my emotions assaulted by lies that pierced my deepest fears and insecurities about being used and taken advantage of, and I cried out to God, and prayed, and took the attack.
Khalida and I had planned on meeting up with Sarah, one of our friends, at the Metro Diner on Skibo for dinner before Bible Study that Tuesday night. But I wasn’t emotionally ready to be steadfast and strong for Khalida.
“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8)
“…we were well pleased to impart to you…our own lives.” Right, I thought as I pulled into her driveway. God had been challenging me through those who were discipling me to be more transparent with the people in the body, as Paul and his guys had been transparent with the Thessalonians. This was the very vision my and Jake’s marriage was built on. Jake had already had opportunities overseas to use this same issue to be transparent with the guys in his squad.
I remembered a car ride in which Jake and I had talked about what was appropriate to share with others about each other as we sought to follow Christ and encourage others to do so as well…We’d established that our testimonies, struggles, questions, points of growth, insecurities, and relationships with Christ were completely open and available to use to help others grow. And I had been praying as of late for God to give me security in Him so that I could be truly transparent with others without being afraid of, you guessed it, being taken advantage of.
As I walked into Khalida’s house, she was getting ready to leave, and the two of us immediately started working through and talking her girl Olivia, and my girl Anna, those ladies in our lives that we were trying to disciple, mentor, encourage in their walks with Christ. We talked vision, we rejoiced with the fact that God desires to use us and the other ladies in our lives to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that [He has] commanded [us].” (Mt. 28:18-20)
In my car, Khalida observed that I was anxious, and God reminded me that I wanted to be deliberately transparent with her, and so I was. I told her about the spiritual attacks, about my struggles with Jake (without dishonoring or disrespecting him), about struggling with submission, and about what God was showing me about myself through all of it. I didn’t realize what it meant to really trust God until now. We eventually talked about marriage, about how to love others, and about how grateful we are that, despite our messiness, God is still willing to associate Himself with us.
We arrived at the Metro Diner and met up with Sarah. I’d never been to this diner, but it reminded me of a place called Bill’s in Norwich, NY, and I felt oddly comforted. As Sarah, Khalida, and I sat at our table, all I could see was the three of us wearing Armor, sitting around a large wooden table covered in maps and compasses and books on battle movements, our hands on our Swords, strategizing with our Commander the best plan of action to move against the enemy in our respective areas: Sarah in her classroom and in the lives of the girls she’s praying for, Khalida in the life of her roommate and in her workplace, and me in…well, everything.
It was there in the diner, as our waiter, Rob, bustled about with his coworkers, as Christmas music played over the intercom, as customers came in through retro glass doors and walked over the green and white tiled floors, I realized that I had real friends, including Jake, that these friends were fighting in the same war as me, and that they were on my side. And that was enough.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, so you ought to love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)