There I was, in the corner of my closet, crying out from the depths of my heart and the pit of my stomach into a wet towel which moments earlier was used to warm me after my descent from the shower. In a matter of moments the towel had been transformed from a source of cover and comfort to a silencer for my gut-wrenching cries. It had become a buffer between my sorrow and the sudden stranger that sat just on the other side of the wall. I couldn’t let him hear my anguish. I couldn’t let my heartache and brokenness be known, especially to him, my perpetrator. I had to hide myself, disguise my agony, and go on with life acting as if nothing had ever happened. Or did I?
This scenario took place just a few months ago between my husband and me. It literally felt as though, in a matter of moments, the bottom of my life had dropped out from under me and I started free falling. My first thoughts were, “how could he?” and “what does she have that I don’t?” I felt so alone and empty. My deepest fears were realized on that day and it was devastating. I didn’t want to look at him, talk to him or even be in the same place as he was. My son, almost one at the time, was all I could look at as a reminder of why I was still in our house at all. My son needed me and I knew that at this point in my life, I desperately needed him.
The days dragged on and I knew I couldn’t live like this for much longer. Leaving wasn’t an option. I made that choice several years ago when I said “I do”. So what were my choices? I had already decided I could not go on living in such misery and I could not abandon my marriage so the only other sensible alternative was to seek counseling. The next day we started to call around. Distraught over the high cost of receiving the help we so desperately needed, we called our friends, the couple that gave us pre-marital counseling, and we asked them to guide us. Graciously they offered their hands and hearts to us, and thus we began the process.
Also at the time I was reading an incredible book about the heart of a woman and how wounded we become as we travel through life. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of husband bashing and the “get out quick” philosophy, it forced me to look at my role in all of this. No it was not my fault that this happened but could I be hindering the hand of God by not allowing Him to heal this situation through me? That question prompted me to dig deeper. Eventually I realized how much I had come to depend on my husband to be everything for me. I had made him responsible for how I felt about myself, the success of my life, and placed him as the only one capable of granting me, or in this case taking away, my sense of worth. That is why it was so easy for me to feel hollow after he broke his covenant with me to always be honest and faithful. In essence I had placed my husband in the seat of God himself.
Instantly I fell to my knees and begged for forgiveness. How could I have missed this for so long? I had broken by covenant with God. I too had sinned against God. I started to realize how crushed God must have been these past few years as he watched me float up and down based on the whims of my husband’s mood and my dependence on those moments of attention or kind words. All the while He, the true Lover of my soul, was waiting, longing to speak sweetness into my heart and comfort me in His unconditional, unfailing love. I was humbled.
From that moment on I approached the situation with my husband differently. I wasn’t going to place him on the throne of my heart again because that seat belonged to God, but I was going to do whatever it took to allow God to gain the victory in our marriage. Instead of hindering His hand through my selfishness, I wanted to be a tool in His hand and help Him start building our marriage to be even stronger. Here I was with the choice to become better or bitter and I chose to get better. Through our counseling sessions we have been consistently reminded of the covenant we made to each other on our wedding day. I know that I may not have married a perfect man like I once naively thought, but I have married a David-like man that I trust has been redeemed through the blood of Christ to again be called “a man after God’s own heart.” That is the kind of man I made a covenant with several years ago and he is the man with whom I will maintain my covenant.
Now that I can look back without it dredging up the fears and pain, I can see how God’s hand was on this, was on me, the entire time. I never blew up at my husband. Even as he was confessing his sin to me, all I could think to do was hold him and tell him how much I loved him. After my meltdown in the closet, I spent several days mulling over my thoughts and feelings. Eventually I could articulate them to my husband without anger while maintaining the weight of hurt he had caused. I knew flying off the handle would not make anything better and I knew I didn’t want to be the cause of making things worse.
Over time I stopped seeing my husband as the enemy and started to see my husband’s sinful act as a tool Satan was trying to use to destroy our marriage. I wasn’t going to give Satan a foothold any longer through my unhealed and mishandled emotions so I chose to fight back through humility, grace and love, something Satan can’t even come close to, let alone touch. Together my husband and I have had to fight many uphill battles along the way but the war has been won. This journey to health is more like a marathon than it is a sprint or even a 5K run. We are nowhere near the end but we are on the right path and for this, I am thankful.