I’ve been writing on marriage for almost three years now. Yet just this past week I had a huge “aha” discovery regarding the word surrender. I have no idea how it took me so long to see this.
When you hear the word “surrender,” what do you think of? Defeat? Loss? Giving up? Being taken captive? Waving the white flag? A lost cause?
But none of these are the kind of things I refer to when I talk about a “surrendered marriage.” Oh no, not at all!!!
So what does surrender have to do with marriage?
The word surrender actually comes from two Anglo-Norman French words: Sur and render. Let’s break it down
1. Sur – a prefix meaning over and above. Think surcharge or surtax. Something you pay over and above regular charges or normal taxes.
2. Render – to give. To hand over. To abandon oneself entirely to.
Put these two together and what do you have? You have the very heart of marital surrender.
To go over and above in giving to your spouse, including giving yourself.
And Then Some
Surrender within marriage, in essence, means the surrender of self. Self-centeredness, self-protection, self-promotion and self-reliance have no place in a surrendered marriage. It means not looking so much to your rights as to your responsibilities and to the good of your relationship. It may involve laying aside your personal preferences, sacrificing your self for the sake of your spouse and the good of your marriage.
This is not giving out of compulsion or duty, but out of love and a desire to see your wife or husband thrive.
It is also not giving in order to earn love. No, in a surrendered marriage, you already believe in the love of your spouse. You give from the place of love not to get it. You also give out of the tremendous well of grace and love that you have been given in Christ.
It is not giving to get, either. It’s not a mindset of “I’ll scratch your back, but you better scratch mine at least as much if not a little more.” That’s self-serving and manipulative. We are after unconditional love.
Surrender means giving in order to bless and giving to foster intimacy. It means learning what love looks like to your spouse, and then doing that in the little things every day.
Surrender means giving your spouse what he or she needs from you – and then some. Try to out-give, out-bless, and out-love each other. That is the only kind of competition that belongs in a surrendered marriage.
Holding Nothing Back
A surrendered marriage means giving yourself to your spouse 100%, and holding nothing back, abandoning yourself.
Today everyone is talking about 50-50 marriages, where the goal is to make everything equal and fair. I’m suggesting you subscribe to a different paradigm. I suggest a 100-100 marriage is more in keeping with the biblical model of marriage, that is Christ and the church. That is living as one flesh.
Giving yourself means being willing to be totally naked before your spouse in every sense (emotionally, physically, spiritually). Are you bold enough to be naked without shame?
Now to be clear, giving yourself is not denying who you are, but bringing the fullness of who you are into your marriage in order to serve and bless your spouse and strengthen your relationship. Just like Jesus brought the fullness of himself, fully God and fully man, to the cross for our benefit, in order to live in intimacy with us forever:
Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
Surrender is not a natural or easy thing for most of us. Something in us resists the notion. Certainly, it isn’t prevalent in society at large, where seemingly everything is about “me.”
Yet surrender is the very thing we are called to in marriage as God designed it. I’m certain of that fact.
What do you think of my surrender surprise? Does my definition of surrender make sense to you? Where have you struggled with surrender as I have defined it?
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