My wife once suggested that I needed to trim my eyebrows. She used phrases like “wildly out of control” and “how about I pluck a few for you?” I ignored her at first, but when she persisted, I deflected using humor, “Does the lioness ask the lion to trim his mane?”
She then informed me that my eyebrows were one of the first things she noticed on our first date. I then did what marriage counselors refer to as “changing the dialogue from conflict to combat.” I asked her, in all seriousness, “Is this really about your issues?” I then proceed to list a few of them.
My wife was not deterred by immaturity. She offered me a challenge with a sly smile: Ask your best friend’s wife if she has ever noticed your eyebrows.
A few days later, my friend’s wife smiled graciously and said, “Well, now that you mention it. …”
Another friend overheard and chimed in, “Yeah, I’ve always thought those things need trimming.” Internally I responded: “Fine. When we are done here let’s discuss the fact that you sound like a horse when you chew your food.”
As you might have noticed, I have trouble living out Paul’s command to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And my ignore/deflect/attack routine isn’t unique to this.
Luckily, I have friends who are really good at submitting to others. I tend to think I’m the expert on me, but eyebrows are a perfect (albeit superficial) example. I’m not looking at them all day long — other people are, and they are in a better position to speak to their impact on the world.
But eyebrows aren’t the point. The point is that I must accept that those who love me see me clearer than I see myself.
My friends have also taught me that I have to deliberately seek out submission. They suggest I sit down with a group of friends and ask them to tell me the good and bad things they see in my life.
They suggest I make major life decisions only if these friends are all in full agreement. They even suggest (and this is the most important) that if my friends are all in agreement on anything, from eyebrows to career choices, I should submit to them even if I disagree.
This is how I ended up on a weekly eyebrow-trimming regimen. But it’s also how I’ve experienced even bigger fruit than tidy eyebrows and the natural maturity that comes from practicing submission.
When I learn to submit to my loved ones, I also learn to submit to the Father. The two are intimately connected, just as they are in Paul’s command to the Ephesians. Submitting to others and submitting to the Lord are different fibers on the same muscle.
No one is ever bad at submitting to their loved ones and really good at submitting to the Father.
Travis Daniel is one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.