I was called meek recently. I was . . . surprised. This person wasn’t denigrating me, merely making a point. But, for just a moment, I was offended. Look at the way I even phrase it, I was called meek. As if I were called some silly childhood name meant to hurt my feelings. Later on, when I had time, I started to think about this word and what it means.
Meek: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive: I used to call her Miss Mouse because she was so meek and mild.
Today, this definition immediately calls to mind a timid girl standing shyly in the corner afraid to make a peep. It brings to mind an image of fear. Easily imposed on, referring to someone who can be forced without difficulty. But . . . quiet, gentle and submissive. These are not bad things. Being quiet and gentle are things that I actually greatly struggle to be in my life and more often than not, fail in my attempts to accomplish. So, I ask, why is it such a dirty word to be called submissive or meek?
Gabrielle Reece is finding out first hand how people view the word submissive this week. She’s written a book about her marriage. The comments in these articles (the few I read) are very interesting. People are aghast that she would let her husband walk all over her (she’s a doormat!!), they are lauding her courage, they are saying how weak she is while saying in using different words that they are in a very similar marriage. In short, opinions are all over the place. The word submission is a dirty word and it elicits a fear in people of becoming a doormat and of giving up control (in their marriages, in their lives and in our society).
Meek, submissive. Do they make one weak? Do they make one unable to make decisions or to be unable to function without leadership? Do they make one a slave to another’s whim? Or . . . is being meek and submissive actually a strength? As women, we’ve been taught to speak our minds, to not let others speak for us or to not back down from opposition. We’ve been taught to always speak up when something is bothering us. Don’t bottle it up! You must let it out and let your feelings be known! DO NOT LET OTHERS WALK ALL OVER YOU, especially your husband! Okay. No, we do not want to let others control our lives. But that is not what being meek and submissive in a marriage is all about.
Being meek in one’s life is not about weakness. It’s about giving up what we are sold today as strength. It means we cannot just yell or screech out our feelings because someone dared to hurt them. It means having the self control to realize that your marriage, your husband and your family is worth more to you than the canard feminism has sold and continues to try to sell us. It means standing strong with your husband and not with that which others would have us believe is power. It means having the wherewithal and strength to resist our urge to nag, create drama, be disrespectful, and rail against our husbands. It means we enter into our marriages with the gentleness, the quietness and the submissiveness that will help make our marriages strong. It doesn’t mean we will be imposed upon, rather it means that we will not need to be imposed upon, because we are willing. Railing and emoting and being stubborn are easy compared to this. It takes strength and self will to be meek in one’s marriage. It takes strength to accept our husbands authority. To respect the fact that he has the last word even when we don’t like it. It takes strength to stand up to those who would call us weak and follow our husband rather than society.
The concept of meek is a very difficult one. I have wanted to write this post for weeks and am still not sure I have it right. I turned once again to Father Robert Barron. I urge you to listen to this sermon of his. The part regarding meekness begins at 4:55 and while he is talking about being meek in general I think it applies very well to marriage today. When you have the time, listen to the whole thing. It it incredibly relevant to what we talk about in these parts of the internet. Apply it to your marriage and your life. Happiness, real happiness, is not about power. It’s not about the perception of others. We need to let that go and embrace our marriages. Therein lies happiness.