There was a boy who I thought was the “one.” We met in college – not at some rowdy co-ed party - but at the Catholic Center on campus.
Maybe that was my first mistake. I’d so badly wanted to find the “perfect Catholic guy” that I was blinded by bliss and never saw “IT” coming. IT being the inevitable heartbreak, of course.
I honestly can’t remember how the courtship started. It’s kind of like a dream that starts out all happy and sepia-toned and then quickly takes a turn for the worse and ends up as a jagged jumble in my mind. I recall bits and pieces. He was a musician, and he wooed me with his guitar. That much I definitely remember.
And the end, I remember that, too.
For far too long, I held onto the pain. The hopelessness. The constant, dull aching in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of being physically sick. Anyone who has had a broken heart knows what I’m talking about.
Eventually, I pushed him out of my mind, even my heart, but the fear he’d given me – the fear that I could be fooled into loving anyone – haunted me for a long time.
I’ve long since healed and pieced together the shards of that broken heart of mine. In the rebuilding phase, I confronted my mistakes – my loving someone who had probably never loved me and my belief that I could make him love me by giving everything I had to him. I went to Confession. I sought solace in my mom and a handful of close friends. I forgave him and more importantly, I forgave myself.
When that boy and I first started dating, I’d so desperately wanted a happy ending, to live happily ever after with my Catholic prince. Instead, God gave me a tough lesson in what is true. That musicians aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. That I was someone who deserved more respect. That real love isn’t about self-gratification for either party; it’s about giving more than receiving. That my parents were right about a lot of things. And that coming to the end of a false hope heals and restores even if it feels like it’s tearing you apart.
A lot of time has lapsed since my tough lesson, and I know now that God used that heartbreak to make me stronger, to force me to put my hope in Him, not some idyllic view of romantic love. God, the Master Builder, made whole the crumbles of my former self. Later He sent me my Prince Charming who would become my husband and the father of my children, although he was a different prince than I’d expected. And perhaps God gave me those dark days so that I might be more equipped to one day help heal my own children’s broken hearts.
It’s so easy to wipe their tears away and mend my daughters’ hearts right now. When they are a sad, a cuddle is usually the best medicine. I wish it was always going to be that simple. I’d like to hold them, protect them, and keep them safe always. But I know this won’t be possible. Even if it was, it wouldn’t be good for them. We cannot be rebuilt if we’re never broken. Or something like that.
My oldest is only five, but I admit I’m already dreading those dating years. And praying about them, too: Please don’t make the same mistakes I did. Love God. Love yourself and look for a man who will do the same. I also pray the Holy Spirit will give me the guidance I need to teach our children to respect themselves and to choose dating partners wisely. However, even if my kids do everything “right,” they may have to endure a broken heart. But that’s just it: They will endure. I know because I did. So have millions of other brokenhearted people.
I remember hearing the song, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” blasting over the radio in the wake of my long ago breakup and wondering, through my drippy, dramatic tears, where all the lonely hearts drifted off to and what really became of them. I didn’t have the answer, so I began to talk to God about it. Slowly but surely, spending time with Him filled up my emptiness with His love, and my painful time of loneliness became a journey into God’s care.
Before long, I knew the answer to the Motown hit’s central question. Some of the brokenhearted find a suitable spouse and happiness in the Sacrament of Marriage. Others do not. We have different vocations, different paths. We make good and bad choices. We don’t always bend to God’s will. We let go of His hand and hold tightly to another’s who may lead us astray.
Sometimes we do let His will be done, and it still hurts. Badly. But with God’s grace, we survive. We endure. We are blessed because we mourn. And often it’s when we think we have no one that we find the love of our life who is just waiting, waiting for us to fall in head over heels in love with Him.
This article originally appeared at Faith & Family LIVE!