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How to Handle Your Heartbreak

How to Handle Your Heartbreak

I still remember my first heartbreak.

My heart pounding, beating uncontrollably for lack of situational and emotional relief, I was crushed by the unbearable weight of an un-encountered reality in my young life. A reality of pain, but not just ordinary pain. This pain eats at your insides and leaves you reeling, grasping for something, anything, to take it away. Pain that radiates from your heart to your head to your gut, permeating its way through your emotions and into your physical state. Grappling for answers, for meaning, for an expected end, for the healing to set in and provide an explanation for my misfortune. It was then, at that moment – in what became a collection of moments – that I came of age, embracing the cold wood of my floors or clutching the arms of a couch, wrapped up in a cocoon of my unfortunate realities. 

I cried. 

I cried for the dreams that had been lost. I cried for the pain of being rejected. I cried because of the unfairness of it all, that pain like this should ever have to exist. I cried from a broken heart. 

Grief is inescapable. It must be lived and is un-evadable. It’s inevitably intertwined with the fabric of our existence, and we are forced to reckon with its presence and the constant threat of its appearance in our lives. But my question remains – why must we sit with heartbreak?

Christian faith argues that grief and loss aren’t supposed to exist. That their presence is the result of a cosmic mistake, an inherent flaw, a blemish on the face of a sin-stained planet, not a natural or ideal existence. Much like my youthful ignorance was gradually dispelled with the pain that began to dawn upon my idealistic soul, our first parents are said to have slowly reckoned with the reality of their grievous mistake, realizing just how much pain their hasty mistake had unleashed upon the world. In an instant, a perfect world was made irrevocably imperfect, and we no longer had the capacity to understand a world without pain.

And yet, there is a promise on the part of God to bring a renewal of mind, body, and soul, and to restore what was lost in an expression of His loving grace and mercy. Ironically, we can only understand the value of a world made new as we sit on our chairs and our floors in a cruel present; a world where sorrow is banished and tears are wiped away becomes treasure as we sit at our screens and watch as our current world crumbles politically, socially, and physically. And yet, this overwhelming pain seems to eclipse our vision of the world to come, reminding us of our frailty, our loneliness, and our greatest fears. Regardless of whether that pain comes from personal experience or second-hand from the horror of watching tragedy after tragedy unfold with no foreseeable end, the pain is constant, radiating, and crippling.

Heartbreak is only exacerbated in isolation. The pain is greater lived alone. And yet, we find the fear of abandonment and potential heartbreak leads us to close our hearts and distance ourselves from others, leaving us alone in our pain. In this isolation, we repress our feelings, running away from the pain, fighting the tears, and refusing to state the obvious, regardless of the fact that psychologically, heartbreak is meant to be experienced fully, and not hidden away. That tears and therapy and acknowledgment of the situation at hand all work to liberate our minds, our bodies, and our hearts, and to grow our capacity to love and be loved in healthy and sustainable ways. We choose to hide.

We exchange heartbreak and the possibility of it for what C.S. Lewis describes as a kind of ‘unbreakable’ heart. A heart that he instructs to, “Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable” (C.S. Lewis “The Four Loves”).

Fear of abandonment and our resulting safety mechanisms may cause more harm than words can say. Yes, maybe, heartbreak is inescapable, because we would never be human without it.


Heartbreak also kills.

We’ve all heard the stories. As recently as June 2022, the United States and the world were struck with horror watching a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas unfold. Teacher Irma Garcia was killed in the massacre, and within a few days, her husband died also – of a heart attack. A reflection of a love so deep, that he could not live without it – he could not live without her.

Yes, heartbreak kills. It killed the son of God.

In the Gospels, we find the story of a heartbroken God.

A God that chose to leave a perfect world and enter a broken one. A God that begged for communion, for his friends to remain and pray with Him, and yet, still found Himself isolated, bearing the weight of the world alone. We see a God that was rejected by His closest friend. A God that sweat blood and shed tears, one that articulated His feelings as he lay on the cold ground of a formerly-comforting-now-hostile garden, begging for mercy, for anything but this.

Jesus cried. 

He cried for the pain of being rejected. He cried because of the unfairness of it all, that pain like this should never have to exist. He died of a broken heart. A heart broken over thirty-three long years of backlash and rejection, culminating in a humiliating show of evil in its most potent form. Grief, rooted in the sin and failure of endless generations, of a world lost in a constant cycle of ridicule and rebellion. Grief inescapable at the cruel hand of our sin. And yet, he chose to live the horror, to walk into it, for me and you. Because He couldn’t bear to live without us.

What if heartbreak reveals to us the heart of the Author and Creator of a painless world to come? What if it reminds us that we are human, that we aren’t alone in our pain? That the God of the universe suffers alongside us and suffered for us so that a perfect world may one day be our reality to grasp and never let go of?

Heartbreak can only begin to make sense in the presence of the One whose heart breaks with and for me — with and for you.

If we allow this reality to settle within us, we might just find our broken hearts mended by the matchless love and mercy of a heartbroken God.

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