Monday, February 22, 2010

Trust in Spite of Heartbreak

Every person I love will someday break my heart. It may not be an absolute rupture—perhaps it will be only a tiny little fracture, a small burning pain to remind me how fragile human feelings can be. Either way, it will hurt. I know that no one I love is perfect and that I am incapable of meeting the world with a dispassionate and logical heart. I'm going to get hurt, and that's just the way it is.

The paragraph above may seem cynical at first glance. If I really believed that all relationships are destined to include heartbreak, you might reasonably ask why I bother to pursue relationships at all. I'll admit that I've asked myself that question once or twice. I've been tempted to believe that I'm better off alone, safer a hermit in a cave with no one but God for company than adrift in a dangerous world where heartbreak lurks around every corner. But I've learned that the relationships that seem to cause my heartaches aren't really the root of the problem. The problem is that pain is simply a part of the human condition, and therefore avoiding human interaction won't spare me from heartache.

Well, the tone of this post must seem downright dismal at this point, but now it's time for the silver lining. Yes, our hearts will be broken just as surely as you can expect the stock market to go down sometimes even when its general trend is up. But like a good stock investment, our relationships have the potential to give us a powerful positive return that far outweighs the losses. The people I love are bound to hurt me and certain to let me down sometimes, but I also know that they will surely brighten up many of my days and bring me comfort when I need it most. They will help me when I cannot get by on my own and multiply my joy when I celebrate my success. They will help me be a better person than I could be on my own.

Jesus forged special relationships with 12 men. One of these men betrayed him to the chief priests for money. One of them denied even knowing him, and the other 10 were scattered after his arrest. As far as we know, only one of them was present at his execution and the rest hid away, terrified that they would be next. These men misunderstood Jesus and abandoned him. Yet I believe that the scriptures suggest that Jesus counted his relationship with them as well worth it. Jesus was not sorry he loved these men, and despite their failings they loved him in return. Eleven of them worked tirelessly on Jesus' behalf after his resurrection, serving him until their own deaths. Yes, the disciples broke Jesus' heart when they failed him, but when they followed him and fostered the fledgling church in his name, they brought Jesus special joy. Jesus loved and counted on these men because it was in his nature to do this, because he knew no other way to be himself and to live up to the essence of God within him.

I have tried putting aside trust in an effort to protect myself. I have attempted to care less and to watch from the safety of the sidelines. I have fancied myself strongest when I was alone and independent. And yet, when I tried to be and do these things, I did not feel like myself. To deny love and trust was to deny the deepest part of myself, the part that wants to be like God. To shut down my altruism in an attempt to be safe was a deception. Shutting myself off from others was never going to make me safe. All it would do is change the flavor of my heartbreak, not eliminate it, and in so doing isolate me from the very love and support that could help me through the inevitable pain.

I have accepted that I am going to get hurt. But I know that I am also going to feel joy and companionship and love. My trust will be rewarded more than it is betrayed. I have learned that when my heart breaks, clinging to my relationships instead of shoving them away will provide the salve I need to mend my broken heart and continue on in the love I've learned from Jesus. His heart was broken and yet he prevailed. Through his grace, I will follow in his footsteps.


Anonymous said...

This is a very moving description of the situation we all face.

Giles said...

Thank you so much for sharing that, it has helped me more than you could ever imagine. God bless you.

vpalenyy said...

"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." CS Lewis

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