There is nothing that can be hidden from God.

Everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes.

Hebrews 4:13


Like many 30-something women, I thought I had the perfect life. I bragged about it on Facebook and in my annual Christmas letter. I had a 15- year marriage and two amazing children. I took pride in my career, our home, and everything that we had managed to accumulate over the years. We had it all.

But then it all changed. The routine and organization I thrived on became a distant memory. Meals and sleep seemed unimportant and tears were a constant on my face. I begged him to see a doctor about the anger. I didn’t understand where it had come from. I felt like everything we had built was beginning to crumble.

Each time he hurt me, emotionally or verbally, I felt like I had to keep record of it somehow. There was a period when I considered cutting myself each time he caused me pain. A physical scar to remind myself of the hurtful, vicious, nasty things he had said or done. After holding a blade on my thigh one evening, the reasonable side of me took control and reminded me that hurting myself would not stop him from hurting me.

One day after returning from one of my daughter’s soccer tournaments, I was climbing up to the storage closet in the bedroom to put our luggage away. That’s when I saw it. An old, blue suitcase, covered in dust with fraying straps. His suitcase. It was something that was totally his. Something he had before I became part of his life. It was something that did not hold a single part of me, but could hold several pieces of him.

After that, each time he called me an ugly name or made fun of my underpants, I would find a small token of him and hide it away in his suitcase. If he yelled at me, I would pack one of his hunting calls into the suitcase. The night he stopped the car on the way home from a basketball game and threatened to make me walk, I took his senior picture; him standing by his old Corvette, and tucked it into the top pocket of the suitcase. In my mind, packing these little pieces of him away was the best I could do, until he decided to get some help for the aggression.

Sometimes, when I knew I was home alone, I would pull the suitcase from the storage closet, lay it on the floor and peek inside. I would look at each little artifact and think about how I was robbing him of his life, piece by piece, just as he was trying to rob me of mine. Somehow it seemed appropriate—fair. And then, when my need for revenge was satisfied, I would zip it closed and push the suitcase deep into the closet, and hide it away before anyone could see it.

But that wasn’t true. No matter how dark that closet was or how far back I shoved it, my secret would never be hidden from God. I thought about the vows we had taken. I recalled the part in the ceremony where it was read that “two are better than one,” and I thought about how far away from that verse we had ended up. Instead of sharing my fears and worries with my husband, I was concealing them, and living as though I was the only one in this marriage.

Then I remembered something else that was read during our wedding. “A cord of three strands isn’t easily broken.” Not only was I excluding my husband from our marriage, but I had also forgotten that God was supposed to be a part of our union, too.

I decided I had a choice to make. I could continue seeking revenge on my husband by hiding his belongings in a suitcase or I could invite God back into our marriage and pray for His help and guidance.

I picked God.

The next several months weren’t easy, and the days passed slowly. There were conversations filled with tears, and others filled with bitter, angry words. We sat through sessions with our pastor, and sessions with a counselor. I talked about how afraid I was of his anger, and he explained where the anger was coming from. Our lives were in complete chaos, and it felt like we had lost control. And that is exactly what it took to save our marriage. When we both made the decision to trust God, our marriage become the priority again, not the suitcase.

That suitcase was eventually emptied. It was part of our therapy. We did it together, the three of us. Then it was placed back into the storage closet. And as I let go of the fraying straps, I thought about the “cord of three strands.” I imagined our cord looking frayed and damaged, like the straps. But I knew it was also stronger than ever.

As scary as this time in our lives was, we both learned something through it. A marriage doesn’t need baggage, just God.

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