Since moving to the foothills of California, I have been making a lot of new friends. Three of my new friends are named Shawna, Shanda, and Shannon. No, they are not triplets. I cannot count how many times I have called Shannon by the name Shawna or vise versa. Sometimes when I am with them I begin with the "Shhh..." and have to concentrate as I am choosing a name to not say some bad other "Sh.." word. Also, quite often when relaying stories to my family about my day, someone will interrupt me and say, "Wait, Shanda or Shannon?" It's all quite confusing and I am not sure I can forgive their mothers for doing this to me. (Because in my world--on my sitcom-- I am the star, right?) However, because none of them has offered to change their names to Angelina or Brooke, I have to persist in my attempt to say the right name and not stumble over my tongue that is often twisted into something that resembles a Wetzle Pretzle.
This is not the only way my tongue can get tied in knots, I have been fighting another "tongue-tied-twisted-sister-spectacle" for quite some time. I have been feeling the urge to share something with my husband, and I have been fighting this urge because of fear and embarrassment. I would think about opening up to him and sharing this secret, but the shame of what was going on inside of me felt more powerful, so I would convince myself that I didn't need to tell him. I would argue with myself that I could overcome this internal battle without bringing him into it. But this "secret" was like a dark, menacing shadow that was following my every move.
There were mornings that I would be in the worship service at our church and I would be singing songs and even with my eyes closed I could see the shadow there--watching me. Laughing at me. And I would sense the Spirit of God telling me. "I am the Light, that is a shadow. Darkness cannot cover Light. Come into the Light." I knew from having a relationship with the Lord, that He would never prompt me to do something I couldn't handle, but using my tongue to speak up and tell my husband my secret required a certain intimacy that I didn't feel I could give. Writing to strangers and exposing myself comes easily and feels safe, opening up to my husband with spoken words as we sat on the edge of our bed would be one of the more scarier things I could imagine. And so, I went on for years holding this in and there were nights that I believed the shadow would, most assuredly, win this battle.
Last night, in a moment of unbridled abandonment, I shared my secret with my husband. As we were standing in the middle of our kitchen, on either side of the open dishwasher, the words began to fall off my tongue, skip over the dirty coffee mugs and land on his ears. I know the power to keep my tongue from becoming twisted, like a 10-year-old Olympic gymnast, had to have come from the Lord.
What happened next was completely unpredictable.
Every portrait in our home heard what I said and responded with astonishment. Pictures of family, hung on our walls, heard my "confession" and turned their heads in disgust. The picture of my Grandparents, taken in the early 1940's looked completely different, as it now showed them only from the back. They had turned their bodies completely around in the photograph to avoid looking at me. A snapshot of my Mother-In-Law holding my newborn baby, which was taken in 1989, now showed only the back of my sweet Mother-in-Law as she turned the baby girl away from me to protect her from the horror of what I shared.
The carpet responded next. Suddenly, as if on cue, every strand of carpet in our home unraveled itself from the burlap which it had been sewn. The strands of carpet began to slither out of the house. Like little polyester worms, they began to crawl across the floor and squeeze under the door frame, to escape being in my presence. Once outside they began to fling themselves into the swimming pool like lemmings running off a cliff.
The carpet strands began to gossip, the way carpet does, and informed the chlorinated water in the swimming pool of my secret. The pool water, remembering our days of summer and the hours we had shared in the sunshine, felt betrayed. In its anger, the water began to fling itself out of the concrete hole, over the fence and into the neighbor's yard.
I mean, I think that is what happened. Or, maybe, just maybe, what happened was that my husband reached out and took my hand. And just held it. My tongue stopped speaking and I remembered the sweet words from Song of Solomon:
"Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue..."And while my husband did not say this aloud to me, I felt this truth in his hand.
They were the sweetest words I'd ever heard, my heart could barely take it in
Like water offered to the lips of a tired and thirsty man
'Cause it's a tangled web I've woven and I don't know all the reasons
But it amazes me to wake up to Your mercy every morning
For the sake of never making the wavesI kept my secrets to myselfAnd no one ever really knew the darker shadows of my heartBut I will be a witness that there's nothing in me dark enoughThe power of forgiveness cannot rescue from the deep
So, I'm standing here and spinning round in the fields of freedomAnd I'm still alive and reaching out and I can feel the healing'Cause you say, Come on out, come on outOut in the openCome on out, come on outInto the LightThere is no jury, there is no judgeReady and waiting are the steady arms of love
~Amy Grant, Out In The Open