As a kid, I used to watch a TV program called “Kung Fu” with David Carradine. I watched every episode in the early 70’s… “my impressionable years.” I remember one particular episode when Kwai Chang Caine (the Shaolin monk played by David Carradine) said the following:
“One should always be the willow that bends with the wind rather than the mighty oak that breaks in the storm.”
Evidently, that episode made an impression on me because that act of “bending” or “submitting” is what has been on my mind over the past few months…so I guess it’s time to write about it.
In our culture, “submitting” is not something that we celebrate as a strength. When I think about it, I believe our resistance to submit is the basis for the majority of the problems most of us wrestle with today in our relationships. We are taught at an early age to “stand up for ourselves” and to “speak our truth” and “not to back down”, and I believe all those things are true and valid. I also believe many of us have associated the act of submission with giving up…and it’s not…it’s simply “giving in.”
Giving up is much different than giving in. Giving up is admitting defeat. Giving in is yielding to someone you care about in order to reach a higher gain. It’s losing the battle to win the war.
Pastor Andy Stanley gave a sermon on marriage a couple of years ago. He said that a strong marriage is marked by mutual submission. Each person yielding his or her preferences for the benefit of the other. It’s taking the focus off of my wants and acting on what they might want. Not defending my point of view, but really trying to understand their point of view. That’s great advice but it’s incredibly difficult!
At times we all act like 2-year old’s defending positions that in the grand scheme of things…mean way less than the value of our relationships. Yet we still fight on!
Being married, I’ve practiced the art of “submitting” just about every day. From TV program choices to furniture placement in the home to how the toilet paper goes on the roll right down to where to put the sponge in the sink. All these things are opportunities for me to suspend an opinion and just focus on on the betterment of the relationship. You know… it works…it makes me a better husband… and it makes our relationship better.
Giving in is not giving up. It takes way more strength and love to suspend your wants just because you love someone else more.
If you don’t believe me..read Matthew 26:42.
“He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
Submitting changes everything…for the good.