It started in the early ’90s. In the midst of hormone changes and junior-high drama, I had a great idea: I would give my heart to God. Now I don’t mean that in a traditional sense; I mean literally give Him my heart, my emotional heart, my “I want to be boy-crazy all the time” heart, my “please love me” heart.
I would let Him be my knight in shining armor. Then, when He was ready to bring “the one” into my life, He could simply pass my heart directly into waiting hands, avoiding my involvement at all. So convinced was I of this plan, I wrote it out in my Bible, where it is to this day.
After a commitment like that, I’m not sure how I ended up in this place of loss. Had I stuck to the plan, I would probably still be single, but not singed from the many times love has burned me. Certainly there were lessons along the way, different relationships that taught me about God and about myself. But the lesson I should have learned from “the one” was still a blur to me. And the healing for which I had prayed seemed just out of reach.
The root problem has been my heart. I tend to fall for someone too quickly and too deeply, and then when it doesn’t work, I realize too late that I should have guarded that precious commodity. I try to talk myself back out of those feelings, but the heart cannot be reasoned with; it cannot be convinced with logic or bribed with money. In my relationship with “the one,” winning the battle of the heart has been a very long process. When a heart is shattered, how do we begin to pick up the pieces? I wasn’t even sure if all the pieces were still around.
My initial reaction to this loss was to mask my fear and declare that I would simply never love again. I would never heal and would instead be perfectly content with work and money for the rest of my life. I didn’t need love, and as for relationships, they could be found in church or with family. In essence, I would choose loneliness now, so it wouldn’t find me later. I don’t think I am alone in this reaction. I think many of us choose to be “proactive” by deciding we do not need what we believe we cannot have.
The problem with this reasoning lies in my faith. At the core, I still trust in the providence of God and believe He is capable of anything. Yet, with my simple statements of bravado, I was declaring that I had found something God could not touch; I personally had a hurt He could not heal. It was at this point I realized I needed to dig deeper with God to find healing, but stubbornness and pride were keeping me from it.
Months passed and I was doing better, most days. I had stalled in the healing process, uncertain of the next steps to take. Then, on a typical Friday afternoon, the Lord got my attention. I went to lunch as always, excited about a new restaurant opening near the office. We pulled into the parking lot, and I froze as I looked up to see a familiar car. Memories flooded my mind, and I panicked. After months of no contact, I was suddenly facing something I knew I wasn’t ready to handle.
Looking back, I guess it went as well as could be expected when you see “the one” again for the first time. It was awkward yet polite and thankfully short. It wasn’t long after the moment had passed that I thought of the many things I could have, should have said.
By Sunday morning, the stress of that encounter had me in tears on the drive to church. After seeing some relief from my pain in the recent weeks, it had come flooding back, and I simply did not know how to handle it. To be honest, I was a little scared. Scared that this would continue to haunt me indefinitely, scared that some pieces of my heart were truly lost forever. I entered the sanctuary to a very different style of service. In the year I had attended this church, I had never seen an old-fashioned altar call, but that Sunday I was invited to come to the altar, kneel down and meet with God. As I prayed, the long silence of the heavens broke, and I clearly heard two words: “Forgive him.”
I was confused at first, wondering what to do. When I had seen “the one,” he had not asked for forgiveness. Do I forgive someone who hasn’t even requested it? I didn’t feel angry with him. What was I even forgiving him for? Deciding to obey, I started offering forgiveness, and seemingly of their own accord, long-forgotten hurts, broken promises and memories surfaced. One by one I released them. With a prayer of forgiveness, I grasped the healing that had previously been out of reach.
I don’t have all the answers to why “the one” came into my life. I am still learning things from my time with him. But in the process, I have learned an amazing thing about God. Though I had forgotten my childhood prayer, asking Him to protect my heart, He had not forgotten it and was keeping His end of the bargain. Lovingly, slowly, He had collected the lost pieces of my heart and was replacing them, but couldn’t finish His work until I had finished mine, by offering forgiveness to “the one” who had hurt me.
Our stories are our own, our struggles unique, but our God is faithful and is actively working for our good. Hold onto that as you journey toward healing.