Insubmissive: truth or dare
Insubmissive is not something I want to be. But the day I came home from town and noticed the light on the answering machine blinking persistently, I came close. Stepping over to the machine, I hit play, then stood and listened to the message. It was a request from someone to babysit her kids for two days. I knew this meant the kids would stay at least three days. Track record, you know. I also remembered that, in times past when I asked for childcare for a few of my half-dozen, it never, ever suited, even if I only asked for an hour. No reciprocation even after I entertained her kids for hours, for days on end.
Thankfully, we already had plans, and I grinned to myself that this time, I could truthfully say no to the request. I picked up the phone to inform the mom we already had plans. All I had to do was tell her I was not available because we were going to be out of town, and I’d be home free. I smiled because every single word was true. I did not need to stretch the truth, connive or weasel my way out of this one. It was mine, fair and square, and I was taking it.
Except that I knew if I asked Dave, he’d want to consider whether we could make this work to help this mom. I knew if I asked him first, he’d want to consider any possible options for accomplishing our plans before we told her “no”. Well, I thought to myself, I’ll just go ahead and call her. It will be done before Dave comes home.
Except that I knew it wouldn’t really be done, because my hurry to call her before Dave heard the message was to get what I wanted before Dave had a chance to speak his mind. When we hurry up before he finds out, or deliberately avoid mentioning it to him first, there’s a problem. There’s a word for that: insubmission.
When Dave and I exchanged marriage vows many years before, I vowed to submit to his authority as the head of our home. Moving ahead to make that phone call to get my way and avoid him weighing in on the decision was really not submitting, was it? Oh no, it was being insubmissive.
Sure, the message I intended to relay had not one ounce of falsehood in it. My haste to respond was solely because I feared Dave might ask me to consider changing some of our plans so we could accommodate her and still accomplish what we intended for the weekend. I didn’t want to do it that way; I wanted, for once, to do it my way because I was tired of babysitting her kids when she never reciprocated. This time, I had an excuse and should be able to say “No” without the slightest feeling of guilt.
Except that, now the numbers on the phone didn’t want to press willingly so I could make the call. I slammed the receiver down and knew what I had to do. Instead of erasing the message as I intended, I left it there for Dave to hear. I knew he’d want to hear that message, even though I’d rather he didn’t.
Daring to submit
A submissive person is someone who willingly submits to the authority or will of another. On the opposite side, a person who is insubmissive is not willing to submit. Scripture also tells us that we (husbands and wives) are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.
That evening when our kids were playing outside, I told Dave about the message and my initial reaction. “I didn’t want to tell you because I knew what you’d say, but I want you to know what I think about this.”
We listened to the message together. We discussed our plans and this situation. Together, we formulated a response. We offered to postpone our activity one day in order to provide child care for half of the time requested. We could do this without losing our planned time together. Because the relationship we had with this mom was already a struggle, we agreed together that the overture could be beneficial.
I’m so glad I listened to the nudge from God. We didn’t have to change our plans because the mom found someone else. Our time away together was so enjoyable because there were no secrets – and no friction – between us. Rather than giving in to the temptation to have my own way, I treasured the satisfaction in coming up with a compromise, together. I have never regretted leaving the message for Dave to hear and not making that initial call, nor have I forgotten the lesson learned.