Written By Ho Yi-Jiun, Taiwan, originally in Traditional Chinese
I grew up in a very lenient family where my parents would give me advice, but let me make the final decision. As a result, I learned to pursue after my own interests, feelings, and dreams. I was so focused on living my own way, that I became adept at neglecting the rules and the authority around me.
From a young age, I did not like rules, being restrained, and obeying authority. As I was growing up, I would skip school simply because I didn’t feel like attending. Being the creative sort, I always felt that I should have an artist’s temperament and live freely. Even my emotions ought to be freely expressed. I should laugh when I wanted to, and cry when I wanted to.
Even though I came to understand and experience God’s love in college, His glory and authority were very distant concepts—something I had heard about but never encountered personally.
It was only during my third year in university—when a relationship I had entered on a whim ended in break-up—that I began to realize that following my own feelings did not always lead to a smooth sailing life. I finally realized that I needed God’s guidance in order to progress in life.
Not long after this, I found a church that emphasized the teaching of God’s word. That began my journey of doing devotions, attending Sunday service, small group, Sunday school, prayer meeting, as well as serving. Initially I was not used to this, and felt as if I was tied up by all these “rules”. But slowly, because of all these “rules”, I spent more and more time on God, and came to know Him better—and naturally desired Him more. I also saw how my own impetuous, prideful heart needed time to learn in quiet and humility, to be changed by God.
When it was time to enter the workforce, I actively sought God’s guidance for my next step. Through the interviews I attended, He showed me the potential conflicts I might face if I worked in the media industry because of my faith, such as the need to work on a Sunday, as well as having to write things contrary to what I believed. These realizations shattered the journalism dream I had clung onto for the past five years. That’s when I decided to instead look for a job that would allow me to give back to society, along with being able to utilize my writing skills. Eventually, I ended up in a writing job at a charity organization. This was my first test of spiritual submission, and by God’s grace, I passed.
But God was not done with me yet. Another area in which I had to learn submission was to the earthly authorities God has set up, for example, the head of the household (my father), and the head of the company (my boss). When interacting with them, I often focused on their flaws. For instance, my supervisor would oftentimes make decisions that were not entirely correct, yet use her position to pressure me, so that I would go along. My father, on the other hand, was a poor listener and would start dissecting my problems from his own view point even before I finish. Every time I encountered such situations, I felt sorry for myself and always thought of how to retaliate. Instead of submitting to them, I would respond with anger.
It reached a point where I became weary of my own response. I decided to pray to the Lord, along with a fellow sister-in Christ, asking Him to save me from such bitterness. God pointed me to 1 Peter 2-3, which contained the verses: “. . . submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” (1 Peter 2:18), and “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9). These verses gave me great strength.
By submitting to the Lord’s guidance and reminders, I learned to approach my father and supervisor with a little more love, and a little less critique. Over time, I found it easier to sincerely submit to them in life and in work.
When my supervisor demands her own way, I put myself in her shoes—recognizing she has not been in her current position long, and is still learning the techniques of communication and how to judge work affairs. I should not be running her down, but should instead pray for her leadership abilities, and do what I can to be a good helper. When my father is quick to respond, I appreciate his deep love for me—that his anxiety is borne out of his concern for me that outweighs even the concern I have for myself! Instead, I reflect on myself, acknowledging that I have not always listened carefully to what my father has to say, so learning to respect and complete one another in love.
Through these experiences, God has showed me that submission is truly a blessing. Submitting to the Lord does not take away my freedom, but instead, allows me true freedom that comes from the heart. Of course, we must not rely on ourselves, but on the Lord.