The Valentine Gift
I had a doozie of a secret I was keeping from my husband. I am not sure really how it started; an oversight perhaps, a simple mistake, maybe I genuinely needed help (gasp). But once this simple little error was born, I conceived in my mind that it was something I could “fix” later. No need to tell S.H. (sweet husband). After all, he would only worry, and I was going to fix it. And it was something we had argued about in the past. This would just make him angry, no need to tell him.
Another month came, and I was not able to fix things. Signs of my secret began to show. Now I was embarrassed. So when S.H. unexpectedly asked me about it, I reacted out of my fear and shame and embarrassment. I lied (another gasp).
Still determined to fix things on my own, I continued the charade. As with most secrets, the only person who I was fooling was myself. I convinced myself that to tell the truth to my life’s partner was not a good solution. I knew that I was wrong and, rather than trusting my spouse to work with me toward a solution, maybe even to help me when I needed help, I feared he “wouldn’t understand.” I feared the “difficult” conversation. I feared his disappointment in me. Indeed, my mind imagined the worst, and I feared it would destroy our relationship. Because, seriously, how could I expect him to trust me? And how do you maintain intimacy with a person you cannot trust? No, I just had to figure out a way to fix this and try to make it all go away.
I cannot describe to you how horrible this was for both myself and S.H. I began to awake in the night, unable to lay in bed next to the man to whom I knew I was lying. I began to assume that I wasn’t worthy of his love, so I didn’t do all the loving things that we normally would have done.
Finally, S.H. confronted me. It was horrible. My head pounded and my stomach was nauseous, as I finally told him the truth. For several hours we talked. He was angry and rightfully so. There were tears, as I finally had to confront the truth myself. I was in over my head. I needed help. I should have trusted my husband, instead of trying to “protect” him from worry. And the most evil truth of all, I had lied to my husband. How could I do this? I had to look at myself and realize how quickly this got away from me, and how easy it is to slip down the wrong path. How could I have taken what now seemed like a simple mistake and turned it into this?
And how did S.H. react? After the anger, after the truth, after the hours of talking, and still upset, he embraced me. We agreed to work through a solution together. We agreed that we need to be able to trust each other. I needed to trust in him and not try to fix things “on my own.” And he needs to be able to trust in me. We came up with a plan together.
I cannot tell you how much I love this man, who loves me with all my flaws.
As I sat in Mass, I couldn’t help but realize how my reconciliation with my husband is so like our relationship with God. My relationship with my husband was not damaged by the error I made. It was damaged by my own choices. Rather than admit my error and ask for help, in my humanness, I easily fell into all the enemy’s traps. I tried to hide my mistake, I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened, I foolishly thought I could fix it “on my own’. In my shame, I began to “stay away” from my husband. It was these choices that damaged my relationship. And just like my husband never stopped loving me, no matter what I imagined, our God never leaves us or stops loving us. There is no sin too big for our God. We know that the only sin that He cannot forgive is the one for which we do not ask forgiveness.
Reflecting back, I can see how easy it is to convince ourselves that our actions are “justified.” Even when they are wrong and we know it. I can see how easy it is to hide in our shame, even from our God. And then the enemy takes hold. When one starts thinking I must fix it “on my own,” that is the enemy. That is when we need God’s grace the most, like an unruly child who needs to be embraced. New lesson for me, “on my own” is a red flag, as is “secret.”
Reflecting back, as we approach Valentine’s Day, a day that has been turned into another commercial exploitation of a wonderful grace, I realized that the best Valentine’s gift I could give our marriage was to face the difficult thing between us. Because once the difficult thing was in the “light”, the enemy could live there no more.
Do you have a secret? How about letting this Valentine’s Day be the day that love shines? Find a safe person, and tell your secret.