Heartbreak: A Spiritual Discipline

The worst break up I ever had wasn’t from a man. It wasn’t a romantic one. The break up that left me devastated, unable to breathe, wandering through the world broken and confused was a friend break up. A friend (ex-friend? former friend? what do we even call that?) is the one that got away, the one I still wonder about, the one I don’t look up on Facebook but kind of want to. I just hope she is happy. Even as I hope that she knows how much I miss her. Even as I know it is best that we have both moved on.

I guess I figured after my one serious boyfriend and my very early marriage, that I was sort of immune. I guess I was sort of naive. Romantic strings aren’t the only kind that bind two people together. Mutual need, mutual dreams, mutual vision. Sometimes you just need to look at someone who has done something you are trying to do. Like be a good mom, or work from home, or write just because they love it. Sometimes you need an employer, or an employee, or a housekeeper, or a babysitter and you both just really like each other. Strings are tied around hearts before you even realize it. Sometimes you love the organization, the Girl scout troop, the church, the school, and you love each other and you love what you are doing and those strands form bonds stronger than you thought possible. Sometimes it is a tragedy, or being in a terrible place that forms bonds not easily broken.

I’m string tie-er by nature, a bond builder. I jump quickly and easily into the deep end. I give a lot of second chances. And third and fourth and fifth. When people tell me something I believe them. I believe people can change. I believe it CAN be better next time around. I believe in staying. This means that I am able to build bonds quickly. I love that. It also means I am burned more often than almost anyone I know. I don’t love that. But I don’t quite have it in me to give it up. I don’t have it in me to not tie the strings, to not build the bridges, to not believe that people can change.

People can change, things can get better. I think that is part of the gospel. I think my belief in the resurrection manifests into every day life. I know these things feel like death, these breakings of bonds, these shatterings. I feel the death, and mourn the loss. My grief as big as my hope once was.  But I can’t stop hoping for the resurrection. The new growth. The miracle.

I used to just think that I was naive. That I was stupid or I couldn’t learn. But I don’t think so anymore. I think heartbreak is, for me, a spiritual discipline. The act of putting my heart out there, risking it, is a matter of faith for me. Do I believe this is worth it? Do I believe, even if this dies, ultimately in resurrection?

I do, for now. I still choose hope. I still choose to risk heartbreak, and when that risk doesn’t pan out, I choose to believe that this broken heart can beat again.

16 thoughts on “Heartbreak: A Spiritual Discipline

  1. Yes, Abby, yes! You are living the gospel. It’s hard. It’s blood and guts. It’s never ready and yet He calls us to love. I’m honored to know you. This is a heavy truth with which I wrestle now because for me it means protecting the relationships and having healthier boundaries. Thank you for these words. They are life giving.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve had the same experience of friend loss — I guess I’m still in the process of grieving and letting go. I can relate to your idea of heartbreak as spiritual discipline. I was in a women’s study group at church and we talked about doing things FOR Jesus vs. doing things WITH Jesus. And I realized that when I was grieving the loss of my friend — and even earlier, when I was trying to reach out and reconcile and make peace — that I was doing that WITH Jesus, and that somehow this might be part of what sharing in His suffering means.

  3. Heartbreak tested my bond with God, and I found heartbreak’s gift to me was endurance and courage. Heartbreak is life’s reminder to appreciate what you have, today, right now, and be careful what you ask for.

  4. Wow. Almost every word you put on this post resonated with me and describes my life exactly. I came to this conclusion of heartbreak-as-spiritual-discipline a long time ago. To me, an unwillingness to believe in the possibility of another person would be like cynicism about the resurrection. I just can’t do it…even if I don’t see the fruit this side of heaven.

  5. Abby,

    I know this about myself too. I have decided however that the risk is worth it or maybe I decided I did not want to do life differently even knowing the risk and heartache that come along with reaching out and bonding quickly. Burned yes but not burned up. Sometimes you realize it is one sided and no matter what you do you are the only one all in and that hurts. But still I rather be like this than one who holds back; who calculates and judges others before jumping in.

    Hopefully no matter how the relationships go I can be an encouragement to some along the way and some of those bonds never break.

    So Abby; I am proud that you are that way and I encourage you to continue to tie those bonds and see if they hold. Stay true to yourself. Will it be worth it? I think so but also I think this side of heaven we are poor judges of the worth of some things. One being our impact on others either in short or long term relationships.

  6. Abby, I appreciate you so much. I appreciate your vulnerability and I hate it that you have been hurt. You are such a talented person and a compassionate one. Those are great qualities. I love you ❤

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