One universal thing about the world we live in is the fact that, sooner or later, we will all experience pain in some way. When I was young, I was terrified of breaking a bone (although that fear didn't exactly keep me from climbing trees and then quickly falling out of them.) I had heard horror stories of bones snapping and the grueling process of the body putting them back together. Needless to say, I was mortified by the idea of breaking a bone. Three ER visits and 15 years later, I still haven't broken a bone. I've done just about everything else to myself but have somehow escaped, insofar, that particular pain.
I discovered, surprisingly, that in maturity, you learn to be afraid of other, intangible hurts. I can't say I wake up in the morning and think to myself, "I hope I don't break a bone." No, the desires of my heart have deepened, lengthened, into something I can barely characterize with words. I wake up in the morning and think to myself, "Lord, please protect the man that's sleeping beside me." I think to myself, "Take care of my sister, hundreds of miles away desperately trying to figure out what life is to her." I think to myself, "Guide my parents as they maneuver through life and it's obstacles." My fears are no longer tangible, solid.
They are ghosts. They are illusions. They are what my mind can dream up in the still of the night or the chaos of the day. I could easily look you in the eye and say the worst day of my life was the day I lost my father, sure. But, deep down in my heart, I would know otherwise.
Something happens in us, as women, as we grow up. Our longings, our fears, our desires and our challenges all start to coalesce into one, inscrutable mess that we ourselves fear unraveling. Imagine a husband entering that minefield.
I remember the early months of my marriage were a whirlwind of discovery--both good and bad. I discovered that I have both an uncanny ability to pull painful memories from my husband and to bury my own. I suppose it's easier to deal with someone else's pain, to act as a crutch for them to lean on because the crutch isn't typically the part that hurts. I learned oodles of things about my husband that I hadn't known previously. I was incredibly proud to be the person in whom he was confiding his deepest hurts and worries. I was his safe-house.
A couple of years went by, though, and I began to notice an unevenness in myself. Whereas my husband was becoming more and more open with me, I was beginning to shut parts of myself away--the parts that probably needed the most attention and care. I was beginning to exist in myself because I was sure he didn't want to know the horrors that resided inside my head. That, or I wasn't sure he could handle the insane, tangled mess that had become my mind. I was anxious about the levees breaking and accidentally drowning him in the desires, longings and hurts that had been building within me for 25 years.
I guess you could say that I was afraid of him rejecting the culmination of my life's fears. Why? I have no idea. He'd never, not even once, shown signs of rejecting me. If anything, he had always accepted and loved--no, worshiped-- every part of me. So why was I afraid? *insert shrug here*
I can't even tell you when it all came to a head, but it did, and it was unpleasant. At least for me. I descended into a babbling, sputtering state that I haven't been in since childhood and my husband listened, quietly, patiently. I confided my deepest, darkest fears to him and some of my most awful shames and quarries. I can't remember all I said, but I slowly became aware that I was breathing and I was alive. In my attempt to protect him from myself, I had begun the long process of suffocating myself. What I thought was strength had become staunch control and I had blocked out much of what I needed.
I realized, in that awful, ugly moment, that I was afraid of losing another man I loved. My father had left, albeit not of his own accord, and deserted my mother and sister to a vacant, dry life to figure out on our own. In my own, confounded way, I had tried to control the loss of another man I loved--my husband. I figured if I hid the crazy he would never be tempted to leave emotionally or physically.
Little did I know that I was robbing myself of the grandest earthly relationship the Creator had bestowed on us. I was hiding my delicate, feminine heart behind an impenetrable wall of strength and courage. I am thankful that I have the husband I do. His love for me is unrivaled, save for by the love of the One that brought us together.
So, in conclusion, I suppose the worst day of my life was also the best. I relinquished the death grip I had been holding on my life and surrendered it to my husband and my Lord. If I can give any advice to young wives, don't hide yourself. Because, believe me, the world wants to know you.