I have a fantastic husband. Not just Instagram fantastic, but like for real fantastic. Today, he put together two utility shelves for our mudroom and took the kids out of the house so I could get work done! Yet no matter how “real life” fantastic he is, all spouses fall short. Even my husband. We have the tendency to find the worst time, to say the gravest things, that send us over the edge. I can’t even pinpoint what our fight was about that fateful day but I do remember the sinking feeling in my stomach as tears welling up in my eyes. I retreated to my room to lick my proverbial wounds in peace.
I have always been a private person when it comes to crying. I don’t want you to hold my hand. Don’t pat me on the back. Don’t hug me tight. In mid-meltdown, I just want to curl up in a ball to sink in my own despair devoid of judging eyes. Maybe it was because of the shame of vulnerability or because I didn’t want him to know how much he had hurt me, I pushed past him to be consoled in privacy.
Between the muffled tears and snotty tissues, I began to reason with myself. “What do I want? How would I like to see this meltdown resolved? Is separating myself from my husband only drawing me deeper into a pit?
So I prayed.
In a still small voice, I felt the Lord calling me out of the private hole I dug for myself. Calling me to bare my insecurities, fragility, and hurt. I wanted to be strong enough to give my husband the silent treatment. But, I also wanted to be weak enough to let myself be held by the one I love, comforted by the very one I felt caused the pain. I hesitated, but carried on.
I saw my husband playing his Xbox; his own way of escape. If I interrupted him it would shut him down all the more. Maybe I’ll just wait until he is done, I thought. I tried to come up with any reason to shrink back into my solitude but my mind was made up. I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me, “Run to him! You are hurt. You are crying. You are stressed. You think you have hurt him. You believe he has hurt you? Run to Him! You think he won’t want to be bothered with you? You think he is the one who should be running to you. I don’t care, run to him!”
And so I did, tears streaming down my face I timidly tapped him on the shoulder. Somehow the very person I wanted to be farthest from, was also the person I wanted to be nearest. He did seem annoyed… I told him “I need you.”
“For what?” he said confused, mid-game.
“I just do I need you!” I demanded.
I almost allowed his annoyance at my vulnerability to give me an excuse to turn around. My pride rising up said, “SEE I told you to stay quiet! Stay hurting! Stay to yourself!” But I pushed past it. Nothing, not even my husband, was going to stop me from running to the one I loved and needed.
So we sat, I held him tight, I nuzzled under his armpit, where my head seems to fit perfectly. He didn’t seem engaged, he wasn’t sharing the moment with me. But I didn’t care. I held even tighter, I wrapped my arm around him, I began to stroke his hand, I held on to him for dear life.
Slowly his body began to lose its tension, he held his head back and sighed a deep breath of relief. I didn’t have to tell him what was wrong. He never asked. Somehow, we both knew. We knew that my tears were about more than our little argument. We knew that we had each other, and we knew that it would pass.
We spent several seconds in this divine embrace, and as many men would, he got up and declared, “I’m hungry, want anything babe?”
And so I knew it was over. The storm had passed. All of the weight of life pressing me was lifted from my shoulder. All because I ran to the one who I was trying to hide from.
I learned a profound lesson that day. Vulnerability seeks obscurity. We isolate, or we self soothe when what we really need is a personal encounter. In my case, I needed to take my hurt to my husband.
I realized this lesson went beyond my marriage and demonstrated what I often do with God. Many things have caused me to want to hide my tears from God. The same superwoman complex that leads me to retreat from my husband, also leads me to retreat from my heavenly father. We must pray for strength to climb out of that hole. If we run to the Lord baring our fragility and throw ourselves at Him, He will take the pain away. And I promise, when you run to God he won’t be busy playing Xbox.
When we finally turn to him. He stands with open arms saying “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:28-30.
I had to push past humiliation to run after my husband. In the same way God wants us to let down our guard and come to him. I am a witness that He alone will give you rest.