I have been thinking a good bit about marriage and relationships in general... what makes them work, what puts strain on them. Again and again I come back to this idea: submission is the active ingredient in loving relationships. Of course, there are many things which go into healthy relationships but what makes these diverse ingredients come together is submission.
I am not talking about rolling over and playing dead in a relationship. I mean taking what you have... your gifts, your resources, your very person... and actively submitting it to the good of another. "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Phil. 2:4. So many of our relationships are a pursuit of self-affirmation. This is why we tend to be friends with people who share our outlook and interests. It also tends to be why we have so much tension in our marriages, as our spouse seem less and less interested in telling us how great we are.
This is at once both a difficult concept and an empowering idea. It is difficult because the idea of willfully submitting ourselves to another's interests seems to violate our freedom and personhood. It is empowering in that our love no longer becomes a question of someone else's behavior. As Christ actively gave himself to the good of those who were undeserving but in need... submitting who he was to our good, so we should love others... by submitting ourselves to their good. Food for thought as we lie in bed next to people who we feel often disappoint our expectations.
(For more on this idea, come here Daryl preach on 2/6/11 at West County Fellowship, Marriage: Loving Self or Loving Another? or listen online after 2/6/11)