The tension was thick. My husband and I sat opposite ends of a 6 foot couch and 23 years of piled up trouble from each other in a last ditch effort to save our marriage.
“Well, what about you? Your wife shared where she thinks some of her wrong thinking has come from. What do you think has influence your thinking in your relationship?” the counselor prodded.
“Well, um, when my parents were getting a divorce I had to go to some class and I remember the adult there asking me to draw a picture. I drew a picture of my family at the fair. My mom and sister and I were all going on rides and my dad was sitting on a bench. I guess if I had to think about where my bad habits came from maybe they came from what I learned from my dad. I guess I’m kind of on the bench?”
I was floored. I sat at the opposite end of that couch in the counselor’s office listening to the man I was ready to legally cut out of my life and for the first time I felt a glimmer of hope. It wasn’t so much what he said, it was that he said what he said because I had finally stopped being quiet. I had thought for sure that by speaking up, taking a stand, calling him out I was putting the marriage to an end. But hope was springing up it’s verdant head up out of the light-deprived soil of my messed-up marriage because I had exposed a dark area and said, “No more!”
I didn’t grow up thinking that’s what godliness looks like. It certainly wasn’t what I was taught a Christian woman looks like. But hope was rising out of the dark place where my complacency had let things that love the darkness hide because as hopeless as I was, the love of Christ was compelling me to stop clinging to my life and love my husband by speaking the truth! The proverbial scales were falling from my eyes and for the first time I could see that loving my husband didn’t mean hiding his sin for him under a rug of passiveness. It sounds so obvious, but when you’re blind, hopeless, stuck in a cycle of enabling sin, it’s not obvious at all.
Jesus said, “If you’re brother sins against you, go tell him…” When he was about to face the cross and knew Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him, he called them out on it. In fact, every time Jesus interacted with people caught up in a sinful pattern of living, he exposed it and dealt with it. But somehow, growing up I heard that as a woman I shouldn’t do that. I should be quiet. I should be submissive. I should turn the other cheek. Somehow I ended up 23 years into a marriage thinking if I wanted to be Christlike I would just hide one offense after another under my passiveness rug and try to stomp down the big lump that formed.
Hope sprung up for me that day in the marriage counselor’s office because the love of Christ was moving me to expose sin, not hide it. Hope was shinning in that room because the love of Christ was saying through me, “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. We’re dealing with this.” Hope had been buried under a heap of offenses piled under a rug I called forgiveness. It needed light. It needed to be exposed to the light that says, “Let me wash your feet. You’re dirty.” Just when I thought there was no hope at all, and that surely my pulling the rug off that pile of sins in the counselor’s office was going to end what I thought I had fought for by shoving more garbage under the rug, my husband opened his heart and let me wash his feet.
Hope is a beautiful growth of goodness in the land of the living. And the living are a mess. It’s the springing up of something that breaths life and grows. But it has to spring up out of dirt. And it can’t spring up if it isn’t exposed to the light. Ugly things may come to light, but they get dealt with in the light. Hope grows where the light shines.
“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:13-14