Resignation vs Submission

One of the side effects of having parent’s in ministry is that you hear your parent’s “testimony” so many times that it’s likely you could quote it yourself word for word. The trouble with this is that in it’s familiarity it often loses it’s affect… until you see it again with new eyes.Hearing my parent’s story as I grew up, one thing stood out to me the absolute most, God put my parents together. This is a good thing, right? I mean, if there’s one thing that parents want their children to believe about their relationship it’s that it was God ordained, don’t you think? The trouble for me in “God put them together” was everything I thought was missing in their relationship. I was carried away by the idea of romance, as most young girls are, and when they said  “God put us together”, my ears heard, “God forced us together”.  Yes, I believed they loved each other, but it wasn’t the type of love I wanted. I wanted the fairytale, the night in shining armor, and to be the princess.  The world was feeding me an image of what romance looked like and my parent’s relationship was coming up short and it not only had me looking for the wrong things, it began to affect the way that I saw and responded to God.I remember once a leader in my youth group said during a bible study that God’s will was often the opposite of our desires. I believe that this youth leader meant well, but my young heart took this news into  grave consideration. This in addition to what I thought I knew about my parent’s relationship left me in no doubt that if I wanted to do God’s will I was going to have to be prepared to let go of all of my hopes and dreams, because God didn’t take hopes and dreams into consideration when making plans for my life.

This is when I  resigned myself to God’s will. That’s right, resign. I think this may be what a lot of people do when they think they are submitting to God’s will. It’s an easy mistake to make because the differences between resignation and submission are so subtle, but the result of mistaking one for the other will lead to a lifetime of dissatisfaction. I find that the best way to articulate the difference between resignation and submission is by looking at the synonyms for both words…

resign 1.  withdraw, abdicate, renounce; quit, leave, give up, surrender, cede, forgo.

submit 1.  comply, bow, obey, agree

Now we start to see a clearer distinction. Imagine going through life applying that first group of words to how you respond to God! And this is exactly what I was doing. I was renouncing my hopes a dreams and resigning myself to “God’s will” as I understood it through the filter of “God put them together” and, pardon the expression, it sucked.

I believed this lie so deeply that I had the audacity to feel resentment towards God in the midst of situations where He had protected me. God intervened when I was about to make choices that would have been devastating, and instead of being thankful, all I could do was feel angry that I didn’t get my way, even though I knew my way might have been deadly.

As time moved on the anger would subside but the nagging feeling that something was missing never did. I resigned myself to being resigned because now I owed God for protecting me from danger and was baffled by the fact that I was unhappy and dissatisfied. If you are committed to your relationship with God, aren’t  you supposed to feel happy about it? This is how I lived until last September.

My mom died last September and the days leading up to her death changed everything about the way I saw God. I had only imagined that I had known anger until my family went through my mom’s sickness at the end of her life on earth. It seemed like there would be no end to her suffering, one thing after another went wrong. When talking about that time I’ve told friends that I felt as though if God had been standing near me I would have punched him in the face because I just couldn’t understand where His mercy and his love was for my mom or for our family. Especially when she had done what he wanted, she’d married a man who struggled with homosexuality, she’d lived without romance, according to my understanding, in an attempt to do His will, she was devoted to ministering to others even though she was handicapped, even though she was often in a great deal of pain! What more could he want from her?

I screamed, I yelled, and I cried, and in my anguish, slowly, I began to see with new eyes… because God is a good God.

In the week that my family spent together in my mom’s hospital room as her life here was slipping away, God began to speak to my heart about what it meant to submit and offer my life to Him. I began to see how my mom didn’t abandon her hopes and dreams, she offered them to her Father and trusted them to Him. By submitting to God my mom wasn’t limiting her vision, she was expanding it! The world told her that she’d never marry and that she’d never have children, but she believed that with God all things are possible and by submitting to His will she was opening herself up to those possibilities and He moved mountains to give her the desires of her heart.

At the very end my dad was the only person that my mom would respond to, she made noises for him, she cried when he left her side, he was the only person in her world at that point, the only person that she needed with her to the very end. You’d think that that would be difficult for a child as they lose their parent, but instead it was comforting and amazingly humbling to get to see their bond in such a raw way.  I took this picture one evening as my dad was softly speaking to my mom assuring her he was there with her. My young  heart had thought my mom had given up hope of romance, but now I know that she knew a love that puts our common understanding of romance to shame. She called my dad her hero, and I believe that the love they had for one another is what fairytales are written about.  For the rest of my life whenever I feel like God is far away, or I don’t understand His plan, this is the image that will fill my mind and I’ll remember that He brought them together and that this is what love looks like and this is how He loves me.

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8 thoughts on “Resignation vs Submission

  1. Well, crap, that was the most beautiful thing ever. I was brought to tears and I learned so much with your beautiful writing. What a great way to honor your mom’s memory and her life. Thank you for writing that.

  2. Rachel says:

    Thank you Katie. That is just what I needed to hear. Submission means trust.

  3. Debbie Meadows says:

    Absolutely beautiful Katie. When God told me that Glenn was going to be my husband, I was overcome with so many emotions that I never felt like I gave up anything. Intimacy with God makes our other relationships fulfilling. Your writing is amazing.

  4. Kristin linked this to me after something I had written on submission. I want to say, as I did in the other thread, that the more I read about your mom, the more I wish I had met her and the more I want to hug you girls and your dad. Love yall so much, and so thankful for each of you.

    The first thing that struck me was that this resignation line of thinking is exactly what led me to pursue lesbianism: “If I want God to love me, I have to give up everything because my hopes and dreams are fruitless anyway.” And like you, that resignation led me other places and I thank God now that He still protected me even though I didn’t really want to be protected at the time.

    The other thing on this train of thought, and you touch on this a bit, if God didn’t care about my dreams, then every time someone told me that God loved me, I thought “What a sick joke! If this is what it means to be loved by God, then no thank you. I’ll go take my chances with the world.”

    I once read an article that used the allegory of Prince Charming and what did their marriage look like ten years later? Was he still “Prince Charming” after he had left his socks on the bathroom floor for the eleventieth billion time, that kind of thing. It made me think. Do I want sugary cotton candy worldly romance that gives absolutely no preparation for real marriage? No. Rather, I desire and need a courtship that protects both his heart and mine, and ensures that either we are as prepared as can be for marriage or we find out before “I do” that this union is not the will of God.

    Your post also reminded me of a scene from the movie “My Cousin Vinny” where Vinny is explaining the difference between playing cards and bricks. So many times we ride high on our own desire-fueled perceptions, and so many times we get snagged by the enemy’s lie that God is holding out on us.

    C.S. Lewis makes the argument that if it were not for the goodness of God, he would be an Omnipotent Fiend. A shudder-worthy thought to be sure, but there’s even more to it that his goodness. He is faithful. “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” This faithfulness is so key, so core to who Jesus is, he couldn’t turn from it even when human reason would say he has no reason to be faithful to us.

    Part of this faithfulness is that Christ is not about the quick fixes, but he desires the work he is doing in us to be complete, not lacking anything. Christ isn’t about to cut corners or do a shoddy job of restoring us, even though that means the job takes longer and costs more than we would like.

    With the whole heart-desires thing…I agree that the pastor was well-meaning, but God is more about lifting our eyes higher rather than forcing obedience. Part of the Holy Spirit coming into us is that we see how much better and more fulfilling his desires are rather than our own.

    The last thing I wanted to comment on was the difference between resignation and submission. Resignation says, “I don’t have any other choices *sigh*” (sighing happens a lot with resignation), but submission says, “I have other options but I choose Christ over those.”

    Blessings and much love to both of you and your family.

  5. […] blessing is it turned into a “ love of my life sort of thing” you can read part of that story here,or here ,if you’re curious (it’s really beautiful. […]

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