I recently re-learned an old lesson. And it likely won’t be the last time I learn it.
I have a very modest swimsuit that I lovingly refer to as the Mom Suit. As you might imagine, given its name, it gets worn on a normal basis as I get kids in and out of the pool, play around on the beach, and go on with my exciting mom lifestyle, with is more about functionality than attractiveness, practicality than ornamentation. The Mom Suit covers everything and is, on the whole, totally unexciting and completely unappealing to anyone of the male gender.
It’s hideous, in other words.
Because I love my husband and enjoy giving him a thrill every once in a while (you know), I figured I would leave the Mom Suit at home during our upcoming anniversary trip to Hawaii. I won’t be lifting kids in and out of the water and wiping snotty noses in paradise (hallelujah!), so I can be outfitted in something a little more exciting, right? When we had some extra money in the budget, I told Wes I was going to buy a new swimsuit. He was all for it, with the conditional agreement that he could see me in it before we left on our trip and give me his opinion.
I found the perfect one and was super excited to show him what I’d bought. I came home, tried it on while he waited for me in the next room, and stepped out in it, ready to hear him tell me that it was awesome, that I looked awesome, and that he really, really felt awesome. (You know.)
I had barely stepped out and struck a pose when he said, “Oh, no… you can’t wear that.”
“Why?,” I asked. “Does it make me look fat?”
(This is never a fair question, by the way. But I asked it because I knew good and well that I did NOT look fat in that swimsuit.)
“Because you look like THAT.” Raised eyebrows and a very, very appreciative smile. (Oh, yeah. That’s totally what I was going for.)
But still. You can’t wear that. He actually said that. To me! Of all the nerve…
And thus I prepared myself to begin a conversation called “Wes Can’t Win.” I had several good comebacks and arguments for his hesitancy, all at the ready in my arsenal, among them these gems…
You know, most husbands would be thrilled that their wives are the same size and shape that they were on their wedding days, even after having two children. (Truth. Although Wes did seem to enjoy me just as much when I was fifty pounds heavier, great with child, and bemoaning the fact that Baskin Robbins didn’t make a bigger milkshake. That large was not large by my ginorous pregnant standards, y’all.)
You know, I wore a swimsuit almost exactly like this one back when we were dating, and you sure didn’t have a problem with it then. (Truth. The swimsuit wasn’t the problem. It was the twentysomething me IN the swimsuit, giving him flirty grins from across the hot tub. THAT was the problem.)
You know, I only work hard to look good because I want to look good for YOU. (Truth. And, wow, how charitable of me, right?)
You know, I’m a grown woman, and I think I should be able to wear what I want to. (Truth! I can do what I want, Preacher!)
But he didn’t argue with me or give me an opening to use any of these comebacks. He simply said, “Please. Respect me in this. You don’t need to be wearing that.”
And would you believe that with all I sincerely believe about modesty that this is something I already knew, deep down in my heart? And would you believe that no matter what I knew — honestly, sincerely knew — it didn’t matter one flying flip? Because suddenly this wasn’t about a swimsuit. It was about a man telling me what to do!
I talk a good talk about how submission, as laid out for God-honoring marriages in Scripture, is not a mutual submission kind of deal. And on that day, almost ten years ago, when I became Mrs. Wesley Faulk, I made certain the vows included “to obey,” because I had every confidence that it would be my joy to do so. I believe entirely that God-honoring marriages are ones that have God-given order, that women are to submit to the leadership of husbands who will give their lives for their wives, loving them as Christ loves His church. I believe that my godly, amazing, wonderful, kind, wise, and devoted husband will make the best decisions for our family. I believe that even when Wes makes a poor decision and isn’t who he is supposed to be in Christ, God will redeem every mistake and will use it not only for Wes’s growth but for mine as well as I follow him. I believe that I answer to Christ and that I do so under the umbrella of authority in my marriage, where God has placed me for my protection, my benefit, and my pleasure.
BUT. Don’t you DARE tell me, Wes Faulk, what I should do when it’s something I know I should do but don’t want to do!
I’m struck again, over and over again, by how difficult it is to do what I know I should do. And I’m baffled by the fact that I resist my husband’s authority even on something that I already KNOW is wrong in my heart, clearly showing that no matter how fervently I believe in created order, I’ve really not arrived in any sense when it comes to being the kind of wife I want to be.
But I’m learning. And re-learning. Again and again.
I know there are people reading this who don’t come from a complementarian way of thinking. You hear what I’m saying, and you likely think I’m stuck in some past era, brainwashed and beaten down by the man, my man, and any man out there. I’m not writing this to argue a theological point or to cause some huge controversy. I’m writing it to say that this is my reality, this is my conviction, and this? Is my struggle. And as I see women — intelligent, strong, capable women — struggle with it as well, I know that I’m not alone. And I know that a little bit of encouragemenet and solidarity in this, in saying that I’m going to pursue godliness even in this, even when my flesh cries out against it as it’s all covered up in my hideous Mom Suit (glory) because what God has called me to is something greater than self — well, it might go a long way in encouraging other women out there to do the same. When we say we believe God and we trust God, we have to extend some trust in the men He’s called to shepherd our hearts.
With that said and honestly believed, I put aside the super cute swimsuit out of respect for Wes (and after much grumbling and pouting) and told him, “Well, looks like you’re going to be checking out the Mom Suit in Hawaii. How exciting for you.” (Listen to me. So respectful!)
And he told me, with that same appreciative smile, “Oh, yeah, because you look HOT in the Mom Suit.”
Thankful that this is a learning, growing process and thankful that Wes is most definitely someone worth respecting and trusting…