The Damage Is Already Done – A Guest Post
Mackenzi Groff is guest posting today contributing to the series The Fear of Coming Clean.
A fire started in the basement of your house and caused considerable structural damage. No one knows except your spouse and your neighbor. Together, they were able to put the fire out.
The fire department was called but they have come and gone. You come home and your spouse has decided to not tell you about the fire to protect you and for fear that you may go and find another house to live in. On the way home, you passed the fire truck, smelled smoke and wondered, even feared there was a fire in your home. When you get home, there is still the lingering smell of smoke but there is really no other glaring evidence that there has been a fire. Your spouse seems a bit on edge but says everything is alright and never mentions the fire. Walking around the house, you comment on the smell of smoke. Your spouse sniffs the air but says they don’t really smell anything. Going downstairs into the basement, the smell worsens. It is apparent that furniture has been moved around and the floor is wet but again, it is difficult to see where a fire might have been. Thinking you must be crazy, you decide there wasn’t a fire, the basement doesn’t get much use anyway and you move on with your day…
What do you think or how do you feel when you read this story? Absurd right? How is your spouse protecting you really by not telling you that there was a fire in your home? Or securing that you will remain living in this house forever? Granted, you may be protected from the feelings of loss that come from damage being done to your home but you are unable together to explore what damage has been done and repair it. For example, floor boards may be weak and cause major injury if walked on. You are unaware that there needs to be care when walking on them. The damage is already done, the damage isn’t done by you being told.
I had the assumption that the damage done to relationships was in the telling or confession of sin. As long as I sinned in secret or kept it a secret, damage was not done. Then I got married.
In the first two years of marriage, my husband struggled greatly with sexual sin to the point of addiction. Specifically, pornography. He was a young Christian but had been discipled well that confession of sin is part of living out the life Christ has called us to especially in our marriage. As much as I did not want to hear over and over that he had fallen into sin, there was relief in the confession. His confession was an expression of a heart that wanted to turn from sin as well as a reality check for where we actually were…stuck in a cycle.
There were times that he chose not to tell me for days on end that he was stuck in his cycle of acting out. I would have a suspicion that something was off but would chalk it up to me being distrusting or controlling. Then he would confess and I would realize that I wasn’t crazy and there actually had been a fire in our basement.
What also came from my husband choosing over and over to confess was that I was given the opportunity to truly know him, his struggle, to forgive him and to choose to stay. Another fruit of his repeated confession was that I began to see sin in my own life. There had been a major fire in my own basement. I began to realize the level of my self-righteousness, pride, unforgiving heart and selfishness among many other sins.
My husband could have kept his struggle a secret thinking that telling me would hurt me. Much would have been lost. We would not have been able to move out the furniture, repair major structural damage, repaint and redecorate the basement of our lives and of our marriage. It has been hard work but I can truly say that the structure of our marriage is stronger as a result.
A part of the ‘repair’ work we did through counseling was to each make a comprehensive list of all the sins we had ever committed in our lives (you might be amazed at what you remember and how unconfessed sin still haunts). Sounds daunting right? I felt overwhelmed, scared and cynical about creating and confessing this list because it seemed unrealistic and unnecessary. The questions I had to resolve before doing it were: Do I believe God’s promise to ‘heal’ through confession is truth? What kinds of fruit would come from full confession? What was my fear about (rejection, pride etc.)? What if my husband couldn’t love me anyway or I couldn’t love him?
We both chose to do the exercise, and the relief and freedom afterward was amazing. That relief came once the full confession was complete and even before my husband responded. I was in the window of having confessed and waiting for a response, but I already felt great freedom. Now I can say that he loves me, all of me. He has chosen to forgive and stay. I have too. We truly ‘know’ each other. We don’t have to wonder…what if he/she knew? I do.
What do you need to confess to your spouse today? What damage has already been done that needs repair? Will you allow the confession of your sin to shed light on what is true, allowing your spouse to truly know you and bring healing in your most important earthly relationship?
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” James 5:16a.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
I John 1:8-10
Mackenzi Groff, M.A.- married to Lauchlin for 10 years and mother of three beautiful and crazy kids who are 4 yrs, 3 yrs and 3 months. Has a B.A. in Family Studies from Messiah College and an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University. Currently using her education to it’s fullest as a stay at home Mom and homemaker. She loves to read, hike, camp, knit/crochet and cook….she has done very little of all of those since having children, except cook, and loves it.