Monday, September 29, 2008

Marital Moments Issue 8 - The Gift of Honesty

Honesty and intimacy go hand in hand. Honesty builds trust. Honesty gains respect. It enables your spouse to know that you are willing to be vulnerable and real with them. It is praised by the Lord. Dishonesty undiscovered seems like it does most of the above things, but dishonesty uncovered destroys trust, respect, vulnerability, and ultimately intimacy with your spouse and with the Lord. Just tune into your local soap opera for a day and you can see how much destruction dishonesty causes.

Early in our marriage I realized that my husband struggled with honesty. Not in a large life altering sense, but in the small "white lie" sort of way. According to Wordnet, a "white lie" is a noun and is defined as "an unimportant lie (especially one told to be tactful or polite)" I almost laughed out loud when I read that. Is there any such thing as an "unimportant lie?" Not according to the Word of God. Luke 16:10 "...whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." James 5:12b "Let your "Yes" be yes and your "No" be no, or you will be condemned."

My husband would tell "white lies" to defer any negative feeling or emotion that I might be projecting about something. It would seem his motives were good - keeping me happy in the moment. However, it began to tear away at the intimacy in our marriage. I can tell you that they were not unimportant to me when I realized what the truth was - even if it was a small item. I remember thinking, "Why would he lie about that???" It made me question if he was willing to lie about something so small, and relatively insignificant, what else might he be lying about. When I approached him on the issue he realized that it was something that he did without even thinking about it. God moved in his heart and he chose to put concentrated effort and prayer into making his "yes" yes and his "no" no. I am so blessed that he did!

Later into our marriage, when my husband was in the midst of an intense on-going health struggle, I found myself vulnerable and in a place where I was contemplating an affair. I have to say, up until that point, I never understood how individuals could have an affair. Couldn't they see how destructive something like that is on your life? I can tell you from experience that this is one of those areas well plotted by the enemy. He knows when you are down and out. He knows when you are vulnerable and your needs have not been met for an excessive amount of time. This is his specialty - destroying lives. Casting Crown's song "Slow Fade" says it so well:

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade...

It is a gradual process to reach this kind of a place. I praise God that He allowed me the foresight to see that nothing good would come of adulterous action. Not only would it have caused destruction in my own family, but another's family as well. I remember going forward at a Saturday morning womens ministry event and talking to the speaker that day. Her topic had NOTHING to do with my struggle, but I knew she was a godly woman and I didn't feel that I could talk about this with anyone that I knew. It was the beginning of my freedom from this "grip of death" that satan was attempting to place me in. God later assigned me to a room at a retreat with another woman who was struggling with the same issue. God is so awesome. He knew we needed each other. We were both Christian women desiring to do the right thing. God blessed us with an amazingly deep and real friendship that I still treasure today.

After I had won the "battle" in my mind, I was part way there. I knew that I was withholding something deep from my husband and I couldn't do it any longer. Our intimacy was blocked. With prayers (of my own and true friends) and tears, I poured out my struggle to my spouse and asked him to forgive me. God allowed him to see how my struggle could have taken place and he forgave me. We are able to talk openly about it and pray specifically for one another because of it. Intimacy was increased because of honesty.

Being honest and transparent with someone about a "larger" struggle/sin should be covered in prayer. It may take time for healing and forgiveness to come, but I can tell you, it is worth the grief and struggle to build intimacy in your marriage. God will honor your humility and your honesty.

I am well aware that some of you will be reading this from the flip side. A spouse has been the one who has contemplated or committed adultery. The pain that you are feeling is immense. Your own personal hurt, disappointment, and sense of betrayal is not overlooked by me. As I said, I had never been able to imagine how it happens before I literally "found myself" in the midst of the consideration. God allowed me to have clear foresight of what that pain might look like through the eyes of many a sweet sister that I have known who has lived the pain. I want to encourage you that there is no point in this life where God will not restore you completely if you seek His face and ask it of Him. I have seen first hand on more than one occasion where God has not only restored a marriage, but has allowed them to leave the captivity of the devil with spoils - just as the children of Israel left their captivity. God is a God of restoration.

Satan would love nothing more than to keep you "in the dark" feeling isolated, alone, and defeated. God gave me this verse about this posting. Acts 26:18 "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

It is not a coincidence that I am posting this today. I have had it on my heart to post for awhile. I was not released to do so until today. If you are reading this and are living the pain, feeling convicted or needing someone who will not judge, but pray with and for you. I invite you to e-mail me now.

Continuously Resting in HIS Grace,

white lie." WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 29 Sep. 2008. .


Daveda said...

Shanda, As I read through your blog today I was touched bu your honesty. It seems to me that sometimes what we really need from each other is transparency and a willingness to be completely honest. This issue is not one that I have a person struggle with, yet I was touched by the fact that you so openly shared your hurt and your triumph. Many times especially as believers, we feel as if certain topics are taboo, as though being a believer makes us less human than others, DUH! If anything what Jesus has done for us should enable us to share freely, knowing that we are not condemned and that God's favor is upon us. This is freedom! So keep it up girlfriend! Keep on Keeping it "real"! Being loved by HIM, with you, Daveda

Anonymous said...

Shanda, Thank you so much for the blog. Mike and I read it together and praise God for your willingness to be HOT. (Honest, Open, and Transparent) Jill

Shanda said...

I wanted to thank those of you who have e-mailed me. I am praying for you and hope to encourage you as you are in this Spiritual battle of the mind. We already have victory in Christ Jesus!

For anyone who has read, but did not respond, I want to encourage you that you are not alone in this struggle. One mom e-mailed, "I thought I was the only Christian woman who struggled with this..." She is not and neither are you.