[GUEST POST: This is by my dear, awesome kuya Mark Andrew Rivera. He is a former Intern staff of Philippine CCC. Graduating as an MDiv-Biblical Studies major this year. A guitar-slinging Baguio boy trying to survive the harsh environment of Manila. Phlegmatic, eccentric, A slave of Christ.]
After being single for so long, I felt she was the one. I wanted to be extra-careful, because she was an invaluable ministry partner. I’ve prayed about her for more than a year, took advices from spiritual mentors, and read Christian materials about courtship. Confident that it was the wise decision, I decided to give-up considering other candidates and began pursuing her… What resulted was a rejection leaving me unable to continue the pursuit. Despite being hurt, I made effort wanting to fix the damaged friendship. Yet in the end I was left with no choice, but give her the space she wants away from me.
“How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand…there is no going back?” – Frodo Baggins (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, 2003)
Perhaps you are like me, who in some form experienced heartaches of a love lost, and you are left confronted with this question. How do you go on, Frodo asked. How, indeed? This is a part of the journey where we feel hurt, lost, trap. Worst of all, God seems silent. We have our own unique paths, so how one survives may not work on another. Each path is a unique, customized learning curriculum designed by God, and being brokenhearted is a prerequisite. But our story is not our own; it is God’s. We have to share His story in us, so let me share four things I have learned so far.
- I’ve learned of wisdom’s limitation.
I have never understood the book of Ecclesiastes until I was rejected. I did everything to feel assured she was the one, and desired to know the wisest, godliest way to love her. And yet it still left me brokenhearted, realizing this gift of wisdom from God is not enough to know if “she’s the one”, and what I believed was the wisest, godliest way to pursue her was lacking to be effective.
The Teacher in Ecclesiastes lamented on how there is no end to acquiring wisdom, but its infinite amount is still insufficient to understand and answer the desired questions in life (v. 8:16-17; 12:12). No amount of Christian principles for courtship would assure you of getting the girl, or spare you from the inevitable heartbreak. To add whipped cream to the injury someone else gets what you longed without much difficulty (ref. v. 9:11)! Still, with sufficient wisdom the Teacher gives an answer for wisdom’s limitation, and the answer is beautiful.
God has made everything beautiful in its appropriate time, but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives. -Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NET)
- I’ve learned about His faithfulness
Spiritual pride can make us believe we are invulnerable to sin, yet being brokenhearted can make us the most vulnerable. What I thought would never happen to me happened. In my heartaches I‘ve longed for alcohol and have taken my drinks. Though my Christian friends were unable to fully stop me from drinking, they at least made sure it would not lead to drunkenness. Without the care of sinning, I turned to pornography to satisfy my longings. Thankfully, spiritual mentors (without me telling them of my pornographic addiction, but knew my heartbrokenness) challenged me to attend Living Waters.
There the walls built from my hurts from God were slowly removed, and my relationship with the Father moved towards restoration. When non-Christian women expressed their desire to go out with me, I gave them the chance I never had from Christian women, who rejected me. Upon hearing this, Christian friends expressed their sorrow and continuously prayed for me. Eventually Jesus became so central in my life that I had to let them go.
I am thankfully to God for sending friends being more of an Elihu, rather than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They were not “miserable comforters”, but comforters that protected me from my foolishness. Through them, God showed His faithfulness, and I’m sure He has done much more than I’m aware of.
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.” – Aslan (C.S. Lewis, “The Horse And His Boy”)
- I’ve learned to pray honestly
I would have to say that telling God how I honestly felt was very uncomfortable, but very necessary. Like David, I held my tongue, and, like David, the thoughts boiled up inside and I found myself spewing my disappointment against God (Psalm 39:1-7).
I didn’t blame the women, who rejected me; I blamed God for not being clear enough for me to understand why she wasn’t the one, why my “wisest” decisions now seems the most stupidest, or why I wasn’t someone she wants to love. Obviously, before the foundations of the earth, He knew and planned it all to happen. But just like David, I have nowhere to turn to, but to God, for mercy for what is happening and for forgiveness for speaking out of line (v.8-14). I cried for answers and was ready to be corrected. I wanted closure.
I will stand at my watch post; I will remain stationed on the city wall. I will keep watching, so I can see what he says to me, and can know how I should answer when he counters my argument. -Habakkuk 2:1 (NET)
The lesson I’ve learned about praying during my heartbrokenness wasn’t much about how to express the words properly. Rather, it is learning that God will always be loving and wise no matter how sweet or bitter we’ve talked to Him.
- I’ve learned to hope again
Faith is hoping on the promises of God; my problem is hoping on things that the Bible does not specifically promise, specifically having a wife. I became traumatized in hoping in God and practicing wisdom, after it led me to rejection and hurt. My lesson on wisdom’s limitation has left me unbalanced and hopeless. So God used my academic studies to bring me to a short book in the Bible.
The book of Ruth is a love story with the main character, who is actually Naomi, changing her name to Mara (bitter), because of what God has done (Ruth 1:20). In the Jewish arrangement of the Old Testament, Ruth was placed after Proverbs as juxtaposition, to give an example of men and women of faith who have practiced wisdom. In fact the Hebrew adjective, khayil, used to describe the woman in Proverbs 31:10 is the same adjective used for Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 2:1; 3:11).
Ruth reinforces Proverbs to balance Ecclesiastes. Now I could explain more in detail how the book restored my hope on God and practicing His gift of wisdom to love again, but it would be too long and technical. I encourage you to study it yourself, and find hope directly from their story.
Because that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” – Walt Disney (“Saving Mr. Banks”, 2013)
What is most amazing is that the Bible is not from imagination. The stories really happened, and they are there to balance the seemingly hopeless reality of our story. We can find our hope in God again and again and again.
If you have noticed, the Bible was the key in making me aware of God’s lessons. These were passages I’ve read and even studied, but somehow failed to appreciate. It was only when I was brokenhearted that I’ve understood and kept them to heart. God is not silent as we seem to feel; in fact He is eager to speak to us through His Word. I still have more things to learn from my experience, I’m sure, but they are still brewing inside me.
But what about you?
What are your stories and the lessons God taught you when He allowed your heart to be broken?