I have a precious friend who shares the remnants of a painful past as part of her ministry. Through the baring of her heart she has helped many to be healed of shame. By opening herself up to humility and human judgment, she has also opened herself more completely to Love. I am learning that there is rarely the one without the other. She has used her mistakes to make something beautiful, and I am proud of her. God has been faithful to His promise; all these things in her life He has worked for the good of those who love him.
A while back, my friend was preparing to share her testimony with her own church family for the first time. She asked her husband if he would stay for both the early and the late service, as she would be speaking at both. She needed to see his face in the sea of others as she spoke; she needed to know that someone who loved her was sitting there. Her husband, who has always been content to be the man behind the woman, shied away a bit from this public role. In the end, however, he knew this was where he was called to be. Almost in exasperation he said to his wife, “Why can’t we just be the family that brings the donuts on Sunday morning?”
I know my husband has felt this way from time to time. I know sometimes he wonders, “What has my wife gotten us into now?” The difference in the way men and women express themselves is well documented. To my Jeff, his faith is a private thing. He’s still growing into it (well, aren’t we all?). In terms of time, he’s still a baby Christian, having only been baptized for a little under two years. These past two years have been amazing to me. As I watch his faith mature, I am smitten all over again. Not just with my husband, but with Jesus as well. I tried for fourteen years to get this man in church. And Jesus did it almost overnight. A true blue miracle. My Jesus can do anything.
But we women are different, aren’t we? We need to share. We need to know that we are not alone in this difficult journey of life. One of the things that my husband’s new found faith has strengthened in our marriage is our communication. I feel safe talking with him about anything now. Before, I couldn’t share the thing that was the most important to me. Now, he understands that my faith is the lens through which I view the world, and he feels the same. It’s breathtaking. Really.
So it didn’t surprise me when I found God prompting me to share my current journey into the past with my husband.
Jeff knows everything about my past. He knows about the difficult experiences that occurred in my childhood that led to me being so uncomfortable around men and insecure about myself. He knows about the dysfunction in my family. One of the things that made me love him was his unconditional acceptance of my loved ones. But he doesn’t like to talk about these things. I would wager that he doesn’t like to think about them. So, when I bring them up the other night, I hear in his voice that same tone that my friend’s husband must have used when he asked about bringing the donuts. I steeled myself to feel silly, or melodramatic, or any other choice of adjective that defeats the noun.
But this time, Jeff surprised me.
I had just explained that sometimes, I still blush around other men. And it makes me really uncomfortable. Because it doesn’t mean what they think it means. And thinking that only makes me blush more. I just end up feeling like a little girl, I said.
My husband told me that he was glad that I am almost forty years old and I still blush. He said he was glad that there was something of a little girl inside of me. He is grateful that I’m not the kind of woman who can flirt and flaunt and brush up against a man without feeling the responsibility of that action. He said that this is a good thing. He told me, in so many words, not to ever be ashamed of who I am. He told me he loves who I am. Right now. The person that stands in this skin right now is the one that he loves. This blushing, aging skin.
And it felt really good to hear him say that. Because I love him too. And I know that our love grows to look more like the love of Jesus every day.
I’m going to keep pushing the envelope, Dear Ones. I have to keep searching and reaching and learning and growing. I can’t just sit back and watch.
I don’t even like donuts.