I used to have a very firm belief in the saying, “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” I used this phrase every day to justify my reasons for keeping things from people. For not letting them in to get to know the real me, junk and all. I had carried a lot of baggage with me for most of my life and in my experience, people didn’t really want to know the nitty gritty details and if they found out well then the relationship didn’t usually survive very long after that.
I carried this mentality with me even after I came to know Christ as my Savior. I knew that He loved me but I still didn’t trust other people. So many had let me down on so many occasions that I feared closeness and openness. I didn’t want to be reminded of and made to feel ashamed of all the mistakes I had made, so I internalized it all and reasoned that it was for the better.
When I began to date the man who is now my husband I hesitated even to trust him. I feared his judgement if he had found out all the ways I had been “bad” especially when it came to my sexual history. Here was this man, a strong Christian who went to church every Wednesday and most Sundays and had this amazing family of strong believers and he had chosen me, messed up imperfect me to begin a relationship with. There was no way I was going to let him know just how truly unworthy I was of his attention.
And so I hid it. I packed it all away deep in the corner of my heart and pretended that our relationship would be just fine, nay it would be better, if he didn’t know. I thought he would leave me if he found out, I thought he would stop loving me. I lived in fear every day of what would happen if my secret got out. I cried myself to sleep on many occasions and he would put his arms around me concerned but totally unaware that I had a secret eating me alive.
It’s not that I think women should be ashamed of their sexual histories. I hesitate to write that because I know it sounds like I’m excusing sexual promiscuity and I certainly am not. What I am saying however is that when we share our sins candidly with God and ask for His forgiveness, shame should not be an issue any more. God does not operate using shame. Shame is a tool that the enemy uses to make us doubt God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, it’s a tool he uses to make us doubt ourselves and the people who love us, namely in my case my husband.
I was so ashamed of what I had done, and who I had done it with, that I let shame build up inside of me so much so that it became a wall I couldn’t see around. I couldn’t see that my unwillingness to tell my husband the truth was a trap being set by the enemy. A trap he was using to try and destroy our marriage before it had really even had a chance to flourish. I was barely married for 1 year and the enemy was already trying to use something from my past, something I had convinced myself I was past, to wreck the foundation of this life we were trying to build.
And then, as if God knew I needed a push to move me towards finally coming to terms with my past, I got pregnant. The happiest time of my life however, was still being colored by this secret I felt I had to keep. But I knew in my heart that this was not how I wanted to continue living life. I didn’t want deception to have a foothold anywhere in our relationship, in our lives, and certainly not in the lives of our future children. I wanted to set a better example. To be a better wife. To be a better mom.
I wanted to finally be able to fully move past the shame and guilt of my past and live without fear. God knew this, He knew my heart’s greatest desire was to honor Him and my husband, and so He gave me the courage and strength to do what I thought was impossible.
So I told him. I told him everything. I cried and couldn’t look him in the eye. I told him everything and my heart was beating out of my chest and I was convinced that he would surely hate me. And honestly, he was pretty upset at first. He didn’t speak for a while, a few minutes really but it felt a whole lot longer than that.
But then he did something I think surprised us both. He said, “I know you have a past and I’m not happy about it. I wish you didn’t. I wish you hadn’t lied to me. But I understand why you did what you did and I forgive you. And I love you. ” WOW! Let me tell you I was pretty blown away. I had spent 3 years trying to push this secret deep down as far as I could and in an hour it was out. In an hour I had spilled my guts and he had forgiven me.
Why? Why does any of this matter? Why should anyone care?
Because I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. Trapped by shame and a secret that seems impossible to get past. Falling for the enemy’s schemes and tricks. Unaware that God can overcome even our deepest darkest fears and inspire complete loving forgiveness in us and others. Believing lies that permeate everything. Lies like the one he told me, that my husband didn’t need to know. That what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. Wouldn’t hurt our marriage. Wouldn’t hold me captive and paralyzed by fear.
The truth is, my husband and your husband, they deserve to know. The deserve our trust and respect. We can’t claim to have those things when we keep secrets from the people we are claiming to be devoted to. It’s just not possible. So yes, I am going to answer my own question with a resounding yes. No matter what it is you may be questioning telling your husband, he deserves to know. How can he be the forgiving, loving, gracious, strong, merciful husband you’ve dreamed of, the one God wants for you, if you don’t trust him?