Ten years ago this week, Doug and I were married. On the day of our wedding, the readerboard outside our church said, “Love Covers A Multitude of Sins.”
Underneath that was a pink construction paper heart and the words, “Congratulations Kimberlee and Doug!”
Doug laughed. He thought it was hilarious, the kind of thing you’d see after the end of an article in Reader’s Digest. I laughed, too, but only with my mouth. In my heart, I was terrified. I was sure I’d been found out. Someone knew.
They knew I wasn’t marriage material (whatever that is), that I was a liar and a hypocrite, that I was only pretending to be someone normal and functional and okay, someone who could be a loving partner in a marriage.
But I plastered a smile on my face and posed with my laughing soon-to-be husband for a photo next to the readerboard. I was pretty good at pretending I was okay even when I was not, and I wasn’t about to let on that it scared me that someone knew that about me.
Ten years later, I look back on that girl, and I want to give her a big hug. I want to tell her, “You aren’t as screwed up as you think you are” and “Relax. It was an innocent faux pas. No one was sending you a secret threat message.”
But it wouldn’t have mattered. That girl was determined to see herself through the critical eyes of the men at the Belvedere Tennis Club and through the even more critical eyes of their catty, mean-spirited wives. As Doug said to me during that first year we were married, “You won’t believe the nice things people actually say about you, but you believe all sorts of mean things nobody ever said.”
But somebody did say those mean things. Me. And the little chorus of critical voices I carried around in my head and projected onto almost everyone I met.
However innocent a faux pas those words on the readerboard were, they were also prophetic. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. It’s taken ten long years, but the dailiness of living with my husband, of living in the circle of his love for me, of slowly coming to see myself through his loving eyes instead of my own critical ones—this has transformed me.
Oh, the tennis club men and their nasty wives are still around, but I don’t listen to them quite as much these days. I tend to laugh when I mess up instead of freaking out that someone is going to find out and I’ll be a pariah. I’m more likely to own up to mistakes instead of hiding them or verbally flagellating myself for them. And I’m way more likely to tell the truth about who I am than hide behind a fake smile or a misrepresentation or even an outright lie.
It’s a process, of course, and I still have a long way to go on this journey into love and trust. But I am so grateful to my husband for loving me faithfully, even when I am unlovable, for walking with me these past ten years, for holding my hand and covering me with his love when I am scared and insecure, when I’ve made mistakes and even when I’ve lied about it.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Love makes us beautiful and worthy and wonderful in the eyes of those who love us.
And love, more than anything else, sees truly.