Did you ever notice that heartbreak has a template? It doesn’t matter what generation we belong to. Whether it is the unrequited crush of young love, or it is one of a more seasoned specimen suffering through an unraveling of many years, it is the same.
I realized this recently while speaking to my youngest about her trails and tribulations. She, of course, is new to this game called Life, and I am not so much. Perhaps you have also had the experience of being told via the occasional eye roll that you “don’t understand.” But you know that you do. You have seen this movie before.
It’s hard, I admit, to fully conceal that the things we say are not really about them, but about us. Our hearts have been broken, too. We know the road signs, the red flags, the betrayals of seemingly innocuous things cloaked in acceptability, just so that someone won’t have to be accountable for what they’ve done. These are the same, whether you wear big girl pants or are still in pull-ups. It stinks.
I’ve come to understand that fear rules where faith is absent. Some people are just afraid to miss something, so they are always on the lookout for an opening to find better — a better friend, job, opportunity, or even marriage. It’s like there exists an invisible scoreboard. If enough little tick-marks in one direction or another happen, it somehow justifies behavior that causes another person to get hurt. It’s amazing to me.
I’ve taught my kids the golden rule of “treating others the way you want to be treated.” I’ve also said, at least a thousand times, that there is never a reason good enough to break someone’s heart. Unfortunately, this did nothing to inoculate them against these very things happening to them. It didn’t inoculate me, either.
So now, I preach a new, updated version of this mantra. It’s more of a revelation, really — When someone does something contrary to what good character or integrity would dictate, it says more about them, than us. It defines them, the quality of their principles, not ours. And though saying this doesn’t make it easier to bear, it does put the blame where it belongs.
The thing about betrayal, is that it casts a long shadow. And, worse, it causes that inevitable struggle whereby we question — What is wrong with me? Why am I not enough? This is so unfortunate. Have you ever tried to convince someone you love that they are worthy of love, kindness and respect, when their hurtful circumstance screams otherwise? Perhaps you know this first hand.
We cannot understand the ways of man. There are people who will hurt us, intentionally or with malice, and have no conscience doing so. It will shock us, taking our breath away, whether that hurt comes from a casual friend or a loved one you have built your world around. There are no rules apparently for those who make things up as they go. They simply say “That’s life,” as if it covers a multitude of sins.
God intends for us to live in accordance with His ways. He wants us to love each other, deeply. To be kind, to look out for our neighbor, to honor covenants and relationships that are intended to make our journey in this life richer.
It’s just that not everyone does this. They live according to what the world says, not God. They exchange values, such as faithfulness and loyalty, for whatever looks to be more advantageous or fun in the moment.
We’ve all had this done to us. And in someways, big or small, intentionally or innocent, we’ve done it to others too.
We can’t insure that people will treat us the way that we want to be treated. All we can do is not be swayed from doing this ourselves. We cannot let the hurt that others have caused incite us act the same way.
I wish there was an antidote to a broken heart. I wish that, whether we are big or little, wise or foolish, young or old, we could be protected from the injury of what others will do in their selfishness.
All I do know is this — God doesn’t cause what happens to us at another’s hand. He hurts when we hurt. He hears our cries and He responds to our prayers, even when it’s hard to see Him at work. He goes ahead of us, so that one day, we can find a purpose for what we’ve endured.
We learn a thing or two when life presents hurt or difficulty. We gain wisdom and strength and fortitude. We gain perspective and a knowing that not everyone can be trusted with our hearts.
Whatever you are in the middle of right now that is causing you to feel betrayed, lonely, grieved, or circumspect, know that this is a season that will not last. God is bringing you through it, and somehow, some way, He will give you beauty for your ashes.
How do I know? Because my heart has been through it all before. I know the template. And I know how God has always brought me to something better. It’s just a matter of time.
I don’t think we ever become immune to heartache. All I know is that God surrounds us in it and He makes all things new again.
Even broken hearts.