On the way to church this morning, noting my silence and facial expression, my wife asked me if something was wrong. Instead of saying, "nothing", which is what my man-heart wanted to say, I told her that I was in a state of shame - feeling low and anxious about something I had done earlier in the morning. I hadn't done anything wrong, but I was suffering from false guilt, fearing I had done something wrong. My wife, who is such a good woman, didn't try to find a solution for me. She listened to me and thanked me for sharing. She says it makes her feel safe when I share these things.
Later this afternoon, I expressed arrogance and jealousy I'd felt during church towards the preacher and some others who had shared during the morning. (This is true sin, because I put a divide between me and the other person I harbor arrogance towards.) I often struggle with thinking that most things in church would run better if I were the one running it, speaking, or leading. My heart is often guarded and unopen to the dignity and goodness of those who are in the spotlight. This disposition of my heart often prevents me from living a wholehearted, full life - open to the words, feelings, and hearts of those I come into contact with.
When I shared the sin of my arrogance and jealousy with my wife, she thanked me. She often tells me that she feels more safe and trusts me more when I share these things with her. I believe this is because hiddenness induces mistrust, while ownership and exposure induce trust. On my wife's part, she usually just listens. Sometimes she has feedback, but most often, she asks permission before she gives feedback. Even in her feedback, she rarely tries to fix me or find a solution. She simiply gives me ideas to think about that could be connected and helpful. My role is to listen to her, allow her influence, and then make my own decision as my own person.
In short, when we share our sin and our shame, we give our spouses the opportunity to feel more safe and develop trust overtime. This is because ownership is one of the highest ways to develop trust in a relationship. In addition, on the receiving end, when we listen deeply, refuse to try to fix our partner, and offer feedback very gently and with permission, then we also garner safety and trust in our partner. The process is complicated and messy; yet, with patience and time, it can become glorious.