This past semester I've realized something. God loves me. He loves me. And here is why that has hit me so hard- because this past semester I've also realized that I really don't come close to earning any kind of favor with God; that I'm not the awesome, adorable one in the relationship.
It's funny that we all get it so backwards sometimes. Non-Christians often think "God likes so-and-so because she's a good person" (I wrote about that here) and Christians often think "God likes me because I'm a good person." At least, Christians often subconsciously think that.
I'm a good example of this- I would have sworn up and down that God's acceptance of me has nothing to do with my performance...and yet, when I realized just how poorly I actually can and do "perform" before God, I lost all confidence in His love for me. My feelings betrayed my true beliefs (more on this later).
So, what does all this have to do with headship? Well, one day in the midst of this muddy semester realizing where God's love actually comes from, I was praying, "thank You for my husband"...and I just started bawling.
I started bawling because my husband loves me so well. In my first year of marriage I've realized just how selfish, angry, rebellious, and lazy I am- and my husband has responded to all of these qualities with a quiet, steadfast love toward me. Example? I have plenty. One night I had planned on making shrimp for dinner and I was sooo excited to cook it up. When I opened the fridge and realized the shrimp never made it home from the grocery store, my vision went red. Steam started rising. Naturally, my husband had to hear about every aspect of this tragedy, and I wanted him to suffer with me. Instead, he fielded my anger with "well sweetie, I can make us a salad or we can go back to the grocery store and get some more shrimp. You let me know."
I was exposed. My immaturity and self-centeredness was obvious to both of us, and yet his tenderness exposed me with grace. His consistency in the face of my plummeting mood (and blood sugar) made it clear that he wouldn't be pulled down by my theatrics but also that he wouldn't stand over me and condemn me for them. Instead, he just loved me.
That's a silly example, but it's one of a thousand. I realized that over the past year, I have never been so consistently, so tenderly, and so faithfully loved- because I've never been so fully known. And it is with this kind of knowing that Christ knows me...the absolute depths of my sin. And I don't just mean past sin as in "I had sin before I became a Christian." I mean current, day to day lack of faithfulness toward the God who saves me, toward the God who carried me out of a brothel and put a wedding ring on my finger; the God who covered my shame with His robe of pure white.
So this first year of marriage to Michael I've realized in a thousand ways, "wow, I am consistently snotty toward you, and you are consistently kind. Why do you love me?" which has just allowed me to see one millionth of how utterly I fail in loving God, who deserves far more devotion than Michael. And yet, my God is consistently kind; consistently faithful; consistently gentle in exposing my selfishness and restoring me. This realization, that God doesn't love me or stay in relationship with me because I deserve it- has rocked me.
So...back to headship. The answer to my question about why Michael loves me always ends up being, "you're so good." This works in a lot of contexts. "Why do you treat me so well even when I'm being a jerk? You're so good." "Why aren't you getting mad? I just insulted you. You're so good." He's not staying calm and gracious and generous because I just make it so easy for him, oh no. He's doing it because of his character. And that is the clearest picture of Christ he could give me.
"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her that He might sanctify her...this mystery is profound, but I am referring to Christ and the church." Eph. 5:25, 32
Now I'm not making a comprehensive statement about what headship is and what it's not, but I am saying that during that time of fellowship with God, I realized that my husband's behavior toward me and example of love to me has shown me Christ's character so clearly that it is transforming the deepest beliefs of my heart. And that is at the very center of what husbands are commanded to do.
That's the heart of headship. It is changing me.