03 September 2009

Honor And Shame

When I drove north without my husband "for six weeks" I had no idea it would stretch to 18 months. I drove the two hours to my parent's house, with three tiny kids in the backseat, who were blissfully unaware of what was happening. I had some time to think. What on earth was I going to tell my parents? Whatever it was, I would have to start cleaning up my verbal habits. I had spent our first year back in Texas hoping that my marriage would improve. I sugarcoated and embellished the ugly truth so that... what? People wouldn't worry? People wouldn't ask questions to which I had no answer? People would think I had it all together?

The problem that comes along with deception and lying is that people don't know how long you've been doing it. My family and Texan friends hadn't seen us for six years, except for a few breaks home on holidays. How did they know that everything hadn't been in shambles for my entire marriage? Why should they believe me when I said essentially, "Well, yes I've been lying all year, but really, things were fine before this. Believe me!"
I came knowing only one friend from high school in the area. I knew, especially as it became evident that we were not going "home," that I would have to create a community where I was. I would have to be truthful with people about my situation, no matter how uncomfortable it was for me... or them.

How do you go about cultivating a lifestyle of honesty when you are terribly embarrassed and even ashamed of yourself? I wasn't raised to tell people the truth about my problems or struggles. I wasn't familiar with letting people look into my personal growth or know about my issues. Also, I wasn't at all used to family breakup or creditors calling or choosing which bill to pay.

I forced myself to be truthful. What is "sugarcoating" and "embellishing" the truth, except euphemisms for LIES? Saying something that is true in a deceptive way that leads someone to draw the conclusion that you want them to is LYING. Emphasizing only the good things is deceptive. False cheer is deceptive. I am not saying that people need to be perpetually cheery, singing gaily and smiling ear-to-ear. I am saying, however, that if your'e having a nasty, terrible day or week or month that it is okay to tell people that you are having a struggle. It's okay to say that you are struggling in your marriage.

Repeat after me: It's ok if people know that I am not perfect. IT'S OKAY! I am not perfect.

And you know what? You're not. Neither are any of us. What is the benefit of telling people "Oh, everything's fine- no, he's just working late! Yeah! What a long drive he has!" and laughing about the kid's antics... then screaming at them to go to bed, so you can hit speed dial 10 times and cry until you want to throw up? You are locking yourself in a cell of your own making.

When I was just miserable and ashamed by my situation, I found comfort in Scripture that chipped at the foundation of that lie in my mind. The devil loves shame. God works with godly sorrow and proper guilt, used to turn us from our sin and back to Him.

Psalm 62:5-8 says:

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, HE is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God, he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

Psalm 25:20-21 says:

"Guard my life and rescue me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you."