Halfway through my shower, I gave up. I sat naked on the tile floor and stared blankly as water berated down my back. I tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to imagine that the pressure of the water was a hug I so desperately needed. As I began to let go and cry, my tears turned into sobs. I was sad, and I couldn’t pull myself out-I couldn’t hide away from the overwhelming feeling of loneliness, and there would be no reprieve to my grief.
My chest tightened and my head pounded, and I wondered if I was experiencing a heart attack. No one could help me if I was, because I was alone at home in the 2nd-floor bathroom. It didn’t matter, anyways.
What was so wrong at a young age of 19? When life is just starting and possibilities are endless?
My boyfriend just broke up with me.
Nearly 15 years later, I still remember what it feels like to lose your first love. I had dated the guy through high school and was convinced he’d be my future husband. Silly now, I know. But it wasn’t then.
Sometimes, I imagine my present self walking into her bathroom, opening up the shower door, and sitting with her to offer comfort, wisdom, and hope.
What would I say to her if I had the chance? Would I tell her that her ex-boyfriend is so not worth the pain-so not worth the mental energy she’ll spend the next few years, trying to figure out what went wrong? Would I downplay her grief and tell her she’ll be happily married to another man who loves every inch of her, and makes her coffee every morning? Would I tell her about how she’d have 4 kids and a life so full, she’d quickly be embarrassed of her tears?
I’d skip out on any fortune-telling and as much as I’d want to, I wouldn’t promise a happy ending. Jesus rarely does that, not even for Job. Instead, I’d sit with her and cry with her and hold her until she fell asleep- I’d tell her that her heartbreak feels like her whole word-and that’s okay.
I’d hope she wouldn’t escape through alcohol, experiences, or a rebound boyfriend. I’d hope she’d run away from allowing bitterness or un-forgiveness to infiltrate the pureness of her heart.
I’d want her to experience the full scope of her emptiness, so that it would lead her to the savior-one who could slowly fill the void and become first place.
I’d want her to reach out to her community in vulnerability- I’d ask her not to hide in shame or depression.
And finally, I’d tell her about Jesus and his redemptive nature.
I’d ask her to wrestle with God in her questions and stay still to hear his answers- and even more so, be okay with his answers.
I’d want her to soak in his comfort and unconditional acceptance.
I’d want her to know that nothing about her is reject-able. Jesus is wild and relentless in his pursuit of her, and knows all about unrequited love.
I’d tell her how he came for the broken-hearted to bind up wounds, and cast out fear. I’d tell her of his shepherding nature and the joy of his presence. I’d tell her that finding herself in him is where she’ll feel most full.
“There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.” —Charles Spurgeon
Those are the things I tell myself now when heartbreak comes my way, and I hope I continue to speak with gentle navigation to my tribe in theirs.