Submission: A Personal Story

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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This post was written as a contribution to Rachel Held Evans’ synchroblog series “Submit One To Another: Christ and the Household Codes.”

The word came so easily from his lips
Perhaps because it didn’t ask anything from him
As we sat on that bench
The cold metal nothing compared to the coldness of that word
Breath escaped me as the love of my life asked me for the thing I could not give

Submission

What he had always been told he deserved
What he expected from me, with nothing in return
But it was not mine to give, not in the way he asked for it
Because I had already given that kind to someone else
To the One who had died for me on a cross

It was to Jesus that I had given the reins of my life
To Jesus I had given the final word
Jesus was to provide for me and lead me spiritually
How could I give that to another? How could he ask me for it?
My response seemed foggy in the cold night air

Mutual Submission

What we had talked about for so long
What he had said he wanted
What I still longed for, sitting on that bench
Words I would never hear from him again

Because being equal with the one he loved wasn’t enough
Because he had always been told he should have more

Goodbye

Not a word, but an embrace, a kiss, unmet longing, the pain of disbelief
A journey I wasn’t ready for, but one God brought me through anyway
A path toward reclaiming what I didn’t realize had been slowly lost
A voyage of self-discovery, of growth, of eventual joy

Healing

A process of overcoming the hurt from that word
The one that is so misunderstood, so abused
This word that has been used to wage a war against half the Church
This word that woke me up that cold night and made me realize that God was calling me to something different, something bigger
The one that took my breath away and showed me I couldn’t marry this man

Because he didn’t know what he was asking of me
Because he wanted something from me that he wouldn’t give in return

Submission

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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32 Comments

  • Wow, this is so beautifully put… and so strong. Thanks.

  • This is beautiful, heart-rending writing.

    At this point in time, I hate the word submission, because so many use it as a synonym for complete subservience.

    • Kreine,
      I understand how hard it is to overcome the hurt from that word. I am still in the process 🙂

  • Kate, We admire you for speaking truth in love. You have an important voice and you inspire us! Many blessings to you and the Junia Project. –Kim and Ken

    • Thanks Kim and Ken! You two are such great supports!

  • Kate,

    Thank you for your thoughtful, vulnerable, and powerful sharing. I deeply admire you and the woman you are becoming. I think every so often of our talks over the many years and how much I have learned from you along the way. thank you again for sharing.

    Your post above reminds me of a passage that I go back to over and over again by Frederick Buechner….

    “The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, they year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming…”

    What strikes me and often brings solace is the last phrase… the reminder that I am always “becoming”….you are always becoming. And I look forward to the many more posts along that path.

    • Thank you so much Kristin! What beautiful words and a great reminder. Thank you for your friendship!

  • This is both lovely and deeply sad – as I imagine living it was, too. Thank you for putting this out here and for linking it with RHE today. A difficult decision for you to make, I’m sure, but ultimately, a very wise one. May you be blessed with a partner who truly is one and may you both enjoy the fruits of submitting to one another, even when it’s really tough to do!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Diana!

  • This is beautifully written. I love the way you highlight how “he” thought submission was something to be owed to him, something that seems to breed a sense of entitlement in some men and not the sacrificial love of Christ to which we are all called. Thank you for your openness and honesty.

    • Thank you Lacey. Yes, it is so very difficult to effectively challenge certain beliefs when they have been so engrained in a person’s expectations. Thanks for commenting!

  • Kate thank you for sharing this! You impress and inspire me through your writing and your story. God has given you such a gift in the ability to speak with truth, vulnerability and eloquence on a subject of such importance.

    • Thank you Haley! You truly are a great support to me!

  • Kate,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for beautifully languaging the pain associated with being asked to be less than who we are in many Christian faith streams. I am grateful for your courage and your commitment to helping women recognize their fully beloved and equal status in the church.
    Stephanie

    • Thank you so much Stephanie! I am so grateful for you and your daughter!

  • Thanks for this. I remember the pain, in my own past, of dating someone who didn’t understand about egalitarianism. It is a hard road,and that relationship ultimately didn’t work. I remember the day that I had to tell my now-husband (who was a very soft complementarian) that I could not marry him if he ever expected unilateral submission. I was so scared he would walk away…but he didn’t. Sometimes the endings are happy, sometimes they aren’t, but standing up to something that isn’t right is always the correct path.

    • Thank you for sharing your story Rachel! Your words mean so much.

  • Wow. This says it perfectly. Call no man father but The Father. Jesus is Lord. The crime of patriarchy is against the men, too. They just don’t know it. My grief and compassion for them in this darkness is great…but, like you, I cannot give what has already been given to Jesus. Lord, have mercy….

    • What a great way to say it Peggy. “They just don’t know it.” It makes me sad as well, but in Christ there is freedom!

  • Beautifully crafted and poignant. Thank you for sharing, Kate!

  • Powerful words. Thank you for this beautiful, poignant piece.

    Something that stood out to me was the waging war on half the church line. While yes, it’s definitely half the church that’s being oppressed, it’s the entire church that’s suffering because of those teachings. Many men (and women) are taught that men are distinctly better than women and women were created simply for childbirth and to be our helpers.

    Simply being taught these things isn’t wrong, but believing them without question is. How can someone possibly see teachings like these as truth after reading the entire Bible, having a relationship with Christ, and hey, I don’t know, ever meeting a woman?

    Anyway, again, beautiful writing. Thanks Kate.

    • Thank you Ben! You are so right. When a teaching like “female submission” this is blindly accepted, the whole Church suffers, both women and men. Thank you for your comment!

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