Saying Goodbye to Ruff: An example of submission in practice

Saying Goodbye to Ruff: An example of submission in practice

Ricky stuffed Ruff into the large lavender scented bin liner.  Once the bag was full he tied a knot at the top.  I checked with him that this bag was destined for the car boot.  It was.  Inside I felt a knot in my stomach.  I added the bag to the rest of the collection of toys destined for donation to the op-shop.  


Ruff was one of my favourite stuffed toys when I was a child.  I fondly remember lying next to him, my pale furred puppy, as I tried to drift off to sleep each night.  I even kept a leather tag around his neck, that ordinarily any other child might rip off upon receipt.  But instead I wanted to keep him looking new.  My intention was to keep him forever.


I am no longer a child, but I have a child of my own.  Graciously my parents allowed me to store my treasured childhood possessions.  This granted me the ability to pass down Ruff and other beloved toys to my daughter.  Grace did not take to Ruff especially, much to my dismay.  I wouldn’t have minded Ruff taking up space in her bed for my own purposes of nostalgia.


When the time came for our biannual toy clear-out (chuck/keep/donate), I faltered when Ricky, my husband turned his attention to Ruff.  It hadn’t ever occurred to me that Ruff wouldn’t hold pride of place in our home or at least be laid somewhere in a box in our shed.  But Ricky was on a path of simplicity and Ruff was in the way.  


Whether you can empathise with my love of childhood belongings being retained or whether you follow minimalist principles, this is a small example of choosing submission in marriage.


Submission in marriage, whereby the wife submits to her husband, often gets a bad wrap.  It can denote ideas of abuse, neglect or power imbalance.  Yet the Bible suggests a completely different idea of submission in marriage.  God’s word on the issue is that the husband ought to love his wife to the extent of laying down his life for her.  The wife ought to submit and respect her husband.  


It can take a lot of time to grapple with these ideas.  But even for those who choose to agree with Biblical submission in marriage, there are often questions that arise of how the idea is demonstrated in practice.


Saying goodbye to Ruff may not appear a big deal.  And maybe in actuality it is not a big deal either.  But perhaps that is one point to deciphering how the principles of Biblical submission in marriage works in practice.  Sure, sometimes there can be examples where submission to her husband can be heartbreakingly hard and painful for reasons universally agreed to be obvious.  However I posit that more regularly in marriage, there is a tendency for a mountain to be made of a molehill.  Perhaps if those molehills were analysed with less intensity and more face value, then the practice of submission would be easier.  Or perhaps not.  


Fundamentally the problem that wives may have with submission is the idea of injustice and lack of fairness.  Maybe it’s not about Ruff.  Maybe it’s about me valuing something that my husband doesn’t or doesn’t appear to see.  And maybe that stings more because that may indicate a false conclusion that he doesn’t actually value me.  And perhaps that hurts all the more because I struggle with valuing myself.  So what seems superficial about stuffing a stuffed toy into a charity bin, can actually have depth about things a lot harder to consider.  


There are countless other opportunities for a wife to submit to her husband, which involve other deep concepts.  Things that happen in the daily run of the mill that affect finances, esteem, hope for the future and planning (to name a few).  


Maybe if you were faced with the example of saying goodbye to Ruff and choosing submission, there might have been a completely different outcome.  You might have decided with your husband to submit and save Ruff.  This article is not about a three step plan for how to submit.  It doesn’t even outline all of what happened in detail around choosing to submit to my husband in this instance.  But my rationale for writing what I have is to show a beauty to submission.  To show an example in practice of submission in marriage, even in the daily mundane things of life.  


I believe that in the end submission has its chance to flourish and shine brightly when it’s the regular and dull moments that are involved.   Definitely in the big choices and big consequences we can see submission at work.  However it is in the daily, sometimes hourly choice to submit in marriage, that God is glorified.  Let us not forget that marital submission is a micro picture of the love between Jesus and his bride, the church.  When we see a good marriage, we can catch a glimpse of our God.  

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