read Luke 14. Every day, someone drips tears into the internet looking for answers for their broken heart. Here’s a typical search engine: “i still love my ex-boyfriend and i still cry every time i think of him and i need a bible verse for the solitude.” But what are we really looking for when someone breaks our hearts?
When someone breaks our heart, often we think we want to know why they dumped us. But do we? Do we really want to know how we weren’t enough? Do we want to hear how we have a bad temper, a bad attitude or bad hair? The thing is, when someone falls in love with us, they find those very same attributes adorable. “She’s passionate,” they say about our temper when they love us, and they say it in an admiring tone. Or, “she’s got a great sense of humor,” they announce to their friends, about our unerring ability to find fault with every little thing we see. “Her hair is as wild as her personality,” they say, as if we were some kind of mountain lion, and they’re so proud they alone tamed us.
But when someone falls out of love with us, every one of those same characteristics – our passion, our sense of humor, and our appearance – becomes a source of contempt. So I’m not sure we will ever get “truth” from an ex – even one who tries to honestly explain why they are breaking up with us. The Bible says to speak the truth in love, and I think that’s because there’s no other kind. Truth spoken in hatred is not truth. It’s just violence.
Sometimes we will hear truth from an ex. Sometimes people break up with us because we’re engaged in behaviors that are truly incompatible with a relationship. If they still love us but pull away in order to protect themselves, they might be able to explain that lovingly: “I love you, but I can’t be with you while you’re buying blow on 125th street”; “I love you, but it’s not a marriage if you’ve got three mistresses”; “I love you but I can’t live with you if you drink a gallon of Tequila every morning for breakfast.” Those kinds of truths, perhaps, can be learned from an ex, but most likely anyone who knows us well enough to know we have those problems, has already explained them to us – ad nauseum. Plus, we probably already know these are problems and if we’re not changing them, it’s because we’re not ready. We think we can’t change; we think we can’t live without those behaviors. So those kinds of truths are probably not what we’re after when we think: “I wish I knew why he left me.” What we really want to know goes deeper. We want to know why someone fell out of love with us.
The Biblical way to look at falling in and out of love is to say that someone has a soft or hard heart toward us. When our hearts are soft toward someone, their faults don’t bother us. When our hearts harden, though, the other person can do no right in our eyes. Every kind gesture is misinterpreted. Every act of thoughtfulness is condemned. Their personalities, figures and actions bother us. It is the same, of course, in reverse, when their hearts harden toward us. Hard heartedness is a reciprocal thing -it’s easily contagious. If someone’s heart hardens toward us, our heart hardens in response.
I don’t think we want answers when someone breaks our hearts. We want them back – or at least we want back the wonderful feelings we had when we first fell in love, and the wonderful open trusting appreciative way we were with each other in that honeymoon period. But often we can’t have them back. So part of the reason why our hearts break is that we discover we cannot fix our relationships. We cannot control other people. We can’t make someone love us. We can ask God to melt our hard heart toward other people. We can ask God to melt their hard heart toward us. But only God is in the business of melting a hard heart. We can do nothing to melt it in our own strength, charm and looks. Admitting that breaks us.
And here’s the transfiguring truth. Being broken open feels like the worst thing in the world – but it’s really the best thing. Being broken means we’re full to the brim with need. And need is all we need to receive. When we recognize we need, and need deeply, and need desperately, we will find Jesus, the true lover, who always loves us; who always has a soft heart toward us no matter what we’ve done; and who always wants us to find Him over and over again, every day, more and more.
We need only to admit we’ve fallen into a pit – a pit so deep we can’t get ourselves out of. God invites the poor and needy to his feast. He invites anyone who will come. The only price of admission is to admit we can’t pay the full admission price. That’s what Jesus is talking about here in Luke 14 when He says we would be foolish to start a project without calculating the cost. We can’t complete the “project” of buying or earning our way to heaven, because we can’t be perfect. Jesus knows that. That’s why He paid the price for us. The invitation is always open, always available, always crying out to anyone who is crying.
Jesus is the answer to our broken hearts. But we have to discover that answer, in a real way, every single day, over and over again. Why? Because Jesus is alive. We are called to a relationship with God, not to just some intellectual understanding. So on this earth, our hearts will break over and over – and we can rejoice in that. It means our hearts are soft. They’re vulnerable. They’re open and receptive. And just as God is in the business of softening hard hearts, so He’s in the business of healing broken hearts. He will heal our hearts over and over, one heart at a time, one day at a time – sometimes one minute at a time, one google search at a time.
Will He bring our ex back? Maybe. Maybe not. But He will always, always bring our hearts back – into fullness, joy, softness and beauty. He loves us. He makes us lovable. He transfigures and transforms us. Just as water softens the earth so flowers can grow, so our tears soften our hearts, so God’s love can bloom within us, and gardens will grow out of the places of our deepest wounds.
And maybe, just maybe, that will open us up to receive love from unexpected places, places we could never have seen or imagined while our eyes were too full of tears about an ex.
posted by Caroline Coleman in carolinecolemanbooks on January 30, 2012