Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Broken Hearts

"A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise."
Psalm 51, Prayer Book, Jordanville translation

Why do we wait? Why do we not just go out into the world and date whoever we like for however long? Many times we will say it is because we are saving ourselves for our future husband. This is an admirable decision. But sometimes people will say that they believe in waiting, believe in courtship or "dating with a purpose" to save them from a broken heart.

While this attitude is understandable, I think we have to ask whether it comes from God or from a selfish desire to avoid pain. But our hearts will be broken. They will be broken by friends, by co-workers, by family, by the times we live in, by characters in books--and I do not believe this is a bad thing. When our hearts are broken we learn to turn to God. We learn to share the pain of others. If we walk through the world untouched by those around us, we are not really following God's will.

Now, I am not advocating that we go out and open our hearts up to every young man we meet. I'm not advocating that we abandon the courtship/dating with a purpose ideal. What I am advocating is an end to the idea that courtship will somehow save us from a broken heart and that this is a good thing. Courtship is not a guarantee that our lives will be safe and happy. I wouldn't want it to be because God did not ask that our lives be safe and happy. He asked that our lives be His.

Part of the reason I think it is important to look at this issue squarely is that the idea that courtship prevents broken hearts has a corollary: If you have a broken heart, you did it wrong somehow. This idea is so destructive. It leads to so much shame and guilt where instead there should be a turning to God for healing and love. Sometimes hearts are broken through no fault of their own. I know it sounds wrong and unfair, but it is the truth. And to add blame to that pain is wrong.

I know I've been a little harsh in this post. But there is hope out there. Remember, "a heart that is broken and humbled, God will not despise." It hurts. And yet God is there, to turn all our sorrow to joy, to "wipe all tears from every face," according to one Orthodox prayer. His grace can turn our dross to gold.

6 comments:

Krista November 21, 2008 at 5:08 AM  

At the expense of sounding like an echo, I say the same as Deb: "Well-said."

It's one thing that has bothered me about the courtship movement for the last few years. If you marry the first person you fall in love with, all well and good. It isn't a bad thing to escape with an unbroken heart.

But as I have said before: boyfriends and girlfriends aren't the only people that can inflict emotional pain and heartache. A mother can reject her child and do a world of harm. Should her child wonder what he or she did wrong? Assume that it was he or she's fault? Once a person declares a way of doing this as the only means of escaping a broken heart, of preventing hurt, that sets up the implication that if you do come out hurt in the end, whether by deliberate actions to hurt or even by accident (such as one person loving the other while the other decides that it isn't God's will for marriage)...that sets up the implication that you did something wrong.

And so there is the guilt. The guilt, particularly when other girls appear to have the 'perfect' story and did everything right. The guilt and the what ifs and the self-doubts and in the end, it can wreak such havoc on relationships! It can cause a girl to want to lock her heart away. It can cause her to blame God and have difficulty trusting Him - because she tried her hardest, still got hurt and why did He let that happen?

No. Hearts break. At the risk of sounding callous, it is true. Hearts break, but God heals.

Elizabeth November 21, 2008 at 9:27 AM  

"No. Hearts break. At the risk of sounding callous, it is true. Hearts break, but God heals."

Excellently put, Krista!

Maureen, thank you for writing this post. For the record, I don't think you've been harsh. You've said something that DESPERATELY needs to be said, in my not-so-humble-opinion. Good job!

MaureenE November 21, 2008 at 12:03 PM  

Thanks. :)

Elizabeth, I personally don't think I was that harsh either, but for someone who's wedded (no pun intended) to that model of courtship, I think it could be a hard thing to hear. Thank you for your encouragement!

Rebecca November 21, 2008 at 2:18 PM  

BRAVA!!! excellently put. Perfect. I couldn't agree with you more. :)

nenagrace November 22, 2008 at 10:03 AM  

This is excellent! I completely agree
with you. Having the right perspective on broken hearts is very helpful in letting God heal us and make us completely His and His alone. :)

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