When I was a little girl, love was a distant fairy tale, a sparkling dream, a hopeful pursuit. Now that I’ve grown older, love terrifies me too. To say that I am not afraid of love would be a terrible lie. I am afraid to open myself up to someone again for fear that I will be broken as I have been before. And I fear that I, too, may inadvertently break the precious heart of a man I love dearly.
Yet I gladly risk being broken if it means pursuing a love that rejoices in goodness and seeks to glorify God in all His ways.
Falling to pieces in the past has given me a chance to pull myself back together and reshape myself to be the woman I really want to be. I believe that every time I fall apart I am one step closer to being the best version of myself – for me, for God and for the man I am meant to love all my life.
Many months after my first love declared that he no longer loved me, I gently confronted my brokenness and picked up the unrecognizable pieces of my heart that were scattered around me. Holding the unknown shards tenderly in my hands, I examined them one by one and realized how priceless each one was. One was petite and pink in color. One was deformed and tearful. Another showed my reflection, searching for itself in the organic glass. In yet another I saw the memory of the man I had loved so deeply. Although the many fragments of my heart were different sizes, shapes and colors, they were all the same in the sense that they were beautiful and mine.
I reconstructed these parts of my heart—compassionately, patiently, deliberately—over time. With great care I tried to understand what had made the shards what they had become. Why was this particular piece so acutely sharp? How come it was smeared with dirt? Where did this glittering fragment of my heart come from? Perhaps this shard was not mine at all, but someone else’s.
This was the first time in years that I looked at my own heart. By gently putting each piece of my heart back where it belonged, I began to see the character of my heart more clearly. I began to understand: I loved to love. God had blessed me with an optimistic heart that was able to see the best in others no matter the circumstances. He had given me an encouraging character that helped to lift others in times of uncertainty and difficulty. What boundless joy this thought brought into my soul! That God used me to spread His grace and hope here on earth was but the highest honor.
As I reconstructed the last remaining shards, the complete picture of my heart became clear to me. Because of my selfless nature, I tended to put the needs of others before my own, especially my friend’s. I did this to such an extent that I often completely forgot about my own needs. I longed so passionately for others to be at peace with who they were and where they stood in life that I forgot I mattered too. That I was important too.
It was the first time I realized that my own heart was – that my own heart is – my most precious treasure of all.
In my first relationship, I cherished my first love so passionately that I forgot that I was a treasure myself. I thought my boyfriend’s love was more important than my love. How naive, how childish — how ridiculous! – it is to forget that your life and love are of the greatest value yourself, not just to others. As great as the privilege of loving and serving others, so is your life yours. Besides God who is with us to the end of time, you are the only ones who follow in your footsteps every day. Love yourself, be proud of yourself and enjoy participating in what makes you happiest. You don’t need anyone else in this world to fulfill you, so never believe that someone else is essential for you to be yourself.
I don’t regret my first boyfriend. While he may have crushed me, he also loved me wholeheartedly, just as I loved him. Sometimes he appreciated me for the treasure that I am. But never again will I believe that I need someone to complete me like I did in the past. God created me to be independent of needing others and dependent on Him.
Lord, what an unequivocal privilege it is to spread the same love that you so selflessly pour out on me day after day to your sons and daughters around me! You call me to love and sow the seeds of your goodness and mercy wherever I go, every moment of the day and night. My God, you loved me first. Because of your love I am able to love you and in turn love myself and love others. Eternal praise to you for every blessed soul you have brought into my life and given me the privilege of touching with your love. Thank you for every moment of love that has passed, the love around me in the present and the love that will surely come in the future. And if I may be broken again, I have faith that you will be with me, pouring out your infinite grace and unconditional love through it all, molding me to best serve as the daughter of Christ you have of me made. Amen.