After a few months of blissful marriage, everything came crashing down. My husband and I had one of our worst fights ever, and I couldn’t see us pulling ourselves out of it. My husband is an amazing man with a gentle heart and a kind spirit – but when he is angry, he is anything but that. I am even worse than he is.
This was not like us. I’m not saying my husband and I never fight. We are usually really good at disagreeing and walking away to clear our heads before either of us blows up. Once we are calm, we come back and talk to each other with love and respect, and we grow. But not this time. This time, we hurled angry words and brought up the past and I felt a monster writhing inside of me. I saw red, but that calm little angel that sits on my shoulder in situations like this begged me to leave.
“I’m going kayaking!” I spat at him. “I don’t want to be around you!” I changed into my swimsuit and slammed the door behind me. During the whole drive to the lake near our house, I muttered about what a worthless human he was. Soon, I was screaming at the top of my lungs at God about why he would give me such a hateful man as my life partner. By the time I rented my kayak and donned my life vest, I was exhausted. I was exhausted from being angry, and I was exhausted from trying to hold back that monster that was trying to escape.
When I paddled out into the middle of the lake, I laid the oar across my lap, unbuttoned my life vest, and leaned back to look at the sky. I took a deep breath, and I told God I was ready to listen. I listened carefully as the waves splashed against the side of the kayak, I listened to the children chasing each other on shore, I listened to the two old ladies in the kayak about 100 yards from me cackle like witches over stories about their husbands.
But I didn’t hear God.
I paddled out a little further, away from the laughing children and the cackling women. Hoping that I would hear God in the quiet, I said, “God, I’m ready to listen.” I heard the motor of the fishing boat backfire. I heard the waves splashing against my kayak, and I heard a dog bark on the other side of the lake.
But I didn’t hear God.
Starting to get a little desperate, I paddled as far as I could across the lake. I sat patiently and waited for the voice of God to echo in my head, to guide me on how to love my husband. I heard the sound of cars on the street that bordered the lake. I heard my heart beating heavily in my chest from paddling so far away from shore.
But I didn’t hear God.
“Alright, whatever,” I sighed. “You’re going to listen to me then. God, I am exhausted. I’m tired of feeling like he doesn’t respect me or want to be around me. He never helps me around the house and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of arguing with him, and I’m terrified of our marriage falling apart. I don’t care what you have to do to me. Just make me see our love again, and make him see it too.” I sat patiently and waited for an answer. Nothing.
Growing more desperate every minute, I begged, “God, short of something deadly, do whatever you have to do to use me to make our love grow. I don’t care. Do what you need to do.” Nothing.
By this point, I was irked. I expected this great revelation from God and the answers to all of my prayers. Instead, I heard the noises of the world going on around me as my mind wandered to my husband sitting at home. I just wanted to go home and apologize to my husband so he would at least look at me again. I paddled myself back to shore, went home, and fought with my husband some more before we were too tired to fight anymore. We apologized, we promised each other we would try to do better, and we did, My husband started helping me around the house more, he started showing me appreciation and affection, and he started asking me about my feelings. It seemed like our love had come back and that the wounds we had caused would heal after all. I quietly took a moment to thank God for my husband and for working his magic to bring us back together. I was grateful to God for answering my prayers.
A few days later, I discovered that I had ringworm.
The ringworm had grown all over my swimsuit line on my legs and belly. It popped up overnight. Being the germaphobe I am, I was humiliated to tell my husband that I had a fungus growing on me, which was most likely transferred to him. I expected him to be grossed out by it. Thoughts of the past weekend and the fight tortured me as I thought about the unwashed life vest that rested on my swimsuit line and the dirty water that most likely caused the ringworm to grow. I was afraid my husband would think of our fight and get angry all over again because I had gotten an infection because of my selfishness to leave in the middle of a fight and most likely gave it to him as well.
My husband’s gentleness and compassion revealed itself in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Every morning at 5:15am, my husband would kneel over my naked body and smear salt and apple cider vinegar paste all over the infected areas to kill the ringworm. He would lay on the couch beside where I lay and spend 15 minutes talking to me while we waited for the paste to dry, and then scrape it off of me and return to bed to get another hour of sleep before he had to get up for work. He would repeat this same procedure right before we went to bed each night, and sometimes after work if I was feeling particularly fungus-y. He never once complained about the smell of the paste or waking up at the crack of dawn or ending his day inspecting my body for new outbreaks. He joked with me about me being “the fungus among us”, but never once made me feel disgusting or unclean. He lifted my spirits when I felt like my skin was crawling and he did everything in his power to make my germaphobe-self feel like there was nothing wrong with me. My husband even cheerfully refrained from intimacy so as not to contract the ringworm. I know it was not easy for him, but it made me see him in a new light. In the mornings, I watched him carefully and lovingly inspect me as he scraped more paste onto my legs and it made me realize what unconditional love really looked like. I felt him tenderly plaster my infected sites with the paste so he wouldn’t rub my skin raw. And I listened to him quietly snore when he would fall asleep on the couch while we waited for the paste to dry. I thought of him in those quiet moments and how only a week before, we had been at each other’s throats and now God had brought that gentle and loving man that I fell in love with back to me.
And that’s when I realized where God came in.
While I was on my kayak “letting God have it”, I had asked God to use me to bring us closer together. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take a round of ringworm to make me understand how much my husband actually cared for me. I didn’t think that it would take the stench of apple cider vinegar being smeared on my naked body at the crack of dawn to wake me up to the fact that my husband would do anything I needed as long as it meant I was safe and healthy. I realized that God did use me and answered my prayers, even though it was NOT the answer I was looking for. God really had a sense of humor with this.
I learned quite a bit from this experience. Sometimes, it takes adversity to bring two people together and to make them stronger. It taught me to look at the gestures of love from my husband differently. I learned to appreciate the acts of service my husband does for me and his willingness, even eagerness, to provide and care for me. I learned a lot about unconditional love. My husband is an amazing man, a gentle caretaker, and patient beyond my wildest dreams. I could never ask for a better man to call my life-partner, my soulmate.
I also learned to be really careful about what I pray for because I might just end up with ringworm.