1 Peter 3:1-6 has always been an inspiring scripture for me.

But distantly.

For 48 years of my life, it wasn’t a verse that specifically applied to my life—I wasn’t married to a non-Christian man or its spiritual equivalent. But as it always does, Life changes. Circumstances change. Some of them painfully.

I am currently separated from my husband of 20 years, but our situation is such that he is at the house visiting our children four days a week. To say it’s awkward at times is like saying a hurricane is a seasonal rainstorm. I have had to learn different social conventions in my own home. I have had to master my mind, my tongue, and my actions on a level incomprehensible to me only 15 months ago.

So for those not familiar with 1 Peter 3:1-6, what is the “S” word? Submission.

Okay, I felt your reaction from all the way across the “www” and into my keyboard, but please note that “submission” is not a four-letter word.

Why does this one word create such a backlash from “modern” women? Many men would rather eat a live adder than use the word in the presence of their wives.

The problem is that we have images attached to this “S” word that are as blatant as profanity. We’ve put the cart before the horse, the lipstick before the foundation, the paint before the plaster. Submission was not created as a subservient state of a wife to a husband. It was created as a haven from which the created (us) looks to its creator (God). Our submission begins–and has always begun–first to God.

When we trust God like Sarah did, fear won’t lead us. She was probably terrified in Genesis 12:15 when Pharaoh’s guards tossed her into the back of one of their chariots, hauled her across the desert, and deposited her into the king’s haram. She’s rewarded for her faithfulness and “unfading beauty” with her husband’s cowardice—he claims she’s his sister instead of his wife so that the Egyptian ruler doesn’t kill him. This was our Father of Faith in learning mode with his wife bearing the cross of his growing pains. The Bible doesn’t say Sarah wasn’t afraid. It says she didn’t give way to fear. She didn’t let it rule her or dictate her actions.

Bottom line, she trusted God was ultimately in control of her life—in spite of her husband’s sin or error.  Her submission was to God, then to her husband. Even to a husband who wasn’t following God’s word.

This is soooo hard for us to get. And as creative a mind as I have, I can come up with all the “what ifs.” Heck, I’m living a “what if.”

One thing God is teaching me is that when I have this order on straight—submission to God first, then to others—I can confidently and respectfully set boundary lines when applying the “S” word in relation to my husband. I follow his lead not as if he is my god, but as he follows the God. If our husbands take a wrong turn or step off the path, we don’t follow them into the ditch, but neither do we stand on the side of the road ranting like a banshee, berating them with a barrage of true four-letter words.

I don’t know a godly woman who doesn’t want to see her husband be his very best for God. But I think I’ve discovered an invaluable secret—it’s not my job to show him what that is.

God’s a big boy, and he can do that all by his little ol’ Self.