Romantically, I was a late bloomer. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I had a serious relationship with a girl, let’s call her Mindy. Mindy was about a year younger than me and we dated for about four years as I went through college. It was my first experience with romantic love and I thought at the time that we were going to have a future together. But, I guess Mindy didn’t. She dumped me for an older man at about the time I graduated and just before I went off on a cross country summer adventure with my dear friend, Pete. I was devastated in that I did not see it coming. It was the first time my heart would break. I took it very hard and thought it was never going to stop hurting. Thank God that He had other plans for me, because as some of you already know, I met my wife during that cross country trip in late July of 1980 at an Allman Brother’s concert in the old Aladdin hotel in Vegas. God had meant for Ellie and I to be together and that has made all the difference in my life.
Now, during that year after I returned from my post graduation trip, I dated a couple of women, one of which (let’s call her Marisol) turned into a fairly regular relationship in that we spent a lot of time together and had fun being together. But, as will happen sometimes, partners develop different visions of their relationship. I really enjoyed our time together, but frankly did not see it developing into a long term connection. Unknown to me, Marisol had developed a different view. So when my long distance relationship with Ellie took bloom, and I felt compelled to make a commitment to it, I had to let Marisol know. She took it pretty hard. It was difficult to see how I could be the cause of someone else’s grief. So within that same year, I had been on both ends of a broken heart, both painful.
I am pretty sure that most of us have had similar experiences with similar devastation and grief. It is a difficult thing to see a relationship die. But apparently this is the price we pay as feeling, emotional beings – beings created in God’s image – beings that seek to love and be loved. Creatures that yearn relationship and companionship as if it were part of our physiology, like eating or breathing. So much so it leads me to believe that our hearts are designed for breaking, and (thankfully) healing. The alternative is beautifully described from this excerpt of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. 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. To love is to be vulnerable.”
We must allow our hearts to be broken on occasion because it also allows us to understand empathy and compassion. (You can’t get into the inside an egg without cracking it.) The risk of giving ourselves fully to someone is part of what connects us so with God through Jesus. Jesus gave Himself fully to you and me, without ever knowing if that giving would be reciprocal. Think how many times His heart has been broken…and (thankfully) healed. The price of unconditional love is sometimes a broken heart, but the reward is the blissful union for which we were made, and the reason we are to keep on seeking.