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When looking up the word, submission, I immediately came across two definitions. The first being of the bedroom practices and tactics variety and the second was more related to grappling. Tap or Nap!! By the time I got to the biblical version of submission, I was acutely aware of the many varieties submission was linked to and wanted to go beyond the preconceived and ignorant and explore how it applies in all facets of life.

What is it to submit? I’ve always thought of submission as an action. When looking up the word, submit it’s defined as, “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.”

As a writer there is a definite act of submission. While you certainly discipline yourself to write there are spontaneous moments when creativity takes over and you’ve got to be open, to be vulnerable to that. I think creativity can be kind and may yield to our obedience (willingness) but it also kind of laughs at schedules and timetable of convenience. Inspiration and creativity I believe work with willingness and that willingness sometimes means staying up late or waking up early to complete an idea. All artists I believe have some form of this relationship. It doesn’t seem possible to control creativity but you learn to work with it and are vulnerable to its power. Does this make the artist weak? It depends on the perspective. Some might say yes but the relationship between the two isn’t who has more power but more the result of the exchange between the two. So the term or label weakness becomes irrelevant due to the constraining and controlling implications.

Love to me, at this point of my life is similar. Each person in the relationship has strength and weakness but submitting means I don’t have to be in charge of everything. You say you will do it, I will trust you to do whatever you say. I can cook for you and make sure our home is intact. Not because you’re “the man” but because as a woman I have options and I opt to keep my household in order. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t help but that’s a responsibility where I choose to take lead. I choose to take out the trash but not mow the grass, (went for the rhyme folks). Not because I don’t know how but because I choose to take on another responsibility, placing me second and him the lead and in our partnership you’re totally fine with doing these tasks. The duties don’t take on a feminine or masculine role but as my man you want to protect me, cover me with your physicality. As a woman, your woman I want to make sure you’re protected by nurturing you and my strength in this would be the domesticated route. So many times when submission is uttered, it seems like there is a slavery connotation to it. Woman, you better listen to the man and do what he says! This antiquated caveman diatribe has been repeated so many times in so many different circles that I’ve been in from (some) church gathering to dates that the eye roll is second nature. As the verbiage moves from mere commentary to religious admonition, it usually follows the Bible verse Ephesians 5:21, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Interestingly, verse 25 and beyond is not spoken with such gusto; “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh,” (Ephesians 5:21-33 ESV). This other half of the scripture is important as it brings a balance, equality to both the woman and man to be accountable for their own actions and to act as a unit. It is this type of buffet consciousness that continues to divide instead of connects, promoting the legalistic instead of love. It reminds me of the numerous times when I was a child and heard repeatedly, honor your mother and father and children obey your parents, for this is right. While this is scripturally and morally correct, I would always think, “Well what happens if the parents are contentious or in general behaving badly, what then?” It wasn’t until I was an adult that I knew about the other part of that scripture. Ephesians 6:1-4 continues, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Purposefully neglecting to omit the verses in totality acts is meant to manipulate. Is there really any wonder why many don’t trust religion?

In martial arts as with anything, the longer you train, the more skills you hopefully have acquired. You learn more ways in how to protect yourself which means the probability of hurting another person increases exponentially. There are some people that will constantly test you when they learn you’ve been training. In situations like this, a line from rap artist Jay-Z always sticks out to me: I shoot you, I’m brainless, you shoot me, and you’re famous. The antagonistic person wants to brag and their empty pursuit of respect will never be fulfilled because they aren’t fulfilled. But if you, having more enlightment commits the same act, lectures of you should have known better and been better come and rightfully so. Spiderman knew this: With more power comes more responsibility. What does this have to do with submission? Everything. Walking away and not engaging in dialogue is an act of submission. Dying to that part of self that wants to appease the ego is giving up one choice for another. No good will come from it but at least you would feel better, you may think. You might temporarily. But there are always more antagonistic people and situations. Walking away from their weak behavior is not cowardly, as it is harder to walk away or ignore their mean-spirited and ignorant taunts. This type of attitude denotes a certain inner strength that has been lost in our society. Humbleness is beauty. Submission is obedience not to anyone in particular, but to a bigger purpose.

I always prided myself on not quitting. In sparring and grappling classes when we would wrestle, I never tapped out. I would rather faint, which has almost been the case on some occasions. Never surrender, never die! While maybe sounding cool, (or crazy, take your pick) the common denominator here is the “I” which makes it more ego-centric. Submission offers options for peace. Submission begins with self. I think because there is an act of relinquishing control to the unknown that is what makes us so unwilling to be submissive. Sometimes you have to trust others and yes, sometimes they will fail. But not always. I know for myself I have tried to control everything. I felt out of control although I didn’t realize it at the time. The more I tried to control things though, the more out of control some things became. After millions of questions and frustrations, I came into the knowledge of letting go. Being obedient to what my heart and mind tell me and following the spirit, that energy of peace. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I like knowing what the next several steps are but I now know and accept (ungrudgingly) sometimes you get full disclosure and other times, it’s a step by step, baby step at times, process. It takes faith in yourself to understand you are not in control and that depending on others sometimes is necessary. It can be a scary space but also a freeing space. Lessen control increases freedom. To succumb, give up ones will or desire for another persons’ or another cause. Submission! Not a bad way to be.

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