When I was a little girl, love was a faraway fairy tale, a sparkling dream, a hopeful aspiration. Now that I’ve grown older, love also terrifies me. To say that I’m not afraid of love would be a horrible lie. I’m scared of opening myself up to someone again for fear that I will be broken as I have been before. And I’m afraid that I too could unintentionally break the precious heart of a man whom I love dearly.
Even so, I will gladly risk being shattered if it means pursuing a love that rejoices in goodness and seeks to glorify God in all of its ways.
Falling to pieces in the past has given me the opportunity to put myself back together and reshape myself to be the woman that I truly desire 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 for all of my life long.
Many months after my first love stated that he had fallen out of love with me, I cautiously confronted my brokenness and picked up the unrecognizable pieces of my heart that were scattered around me. As I held the unfamiliar shards tenderly in my hands, I examined each of them and realized just how priceless each of them was. One was slight and rose-colored. One was malformed and tear-stained. Another showed my reflection, searching for itself in the organic glass. In yet another, I saw the memory of the man who I had loved so profoundly. Despite the many fragments of my heart being different sizes, shapes, and colors, they were all the same in that they were beautiful and they were mine.
I reconstructed these parts of my heart – compassionately, patiently, deliberately – over time. With the utmost care, I tried to understand what had caused the shards to turn into what they had become. Why was this particular piece so acutely sharp? How come this one was smeared with dirt? From where had this glistening fragment of my heart come? Perhaps this shard was not mine at all but rather was that of someone else.
This was the first time I had looked at my own heart in years. In delicately placing 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 circumstance. He had given me an encouraging nature that helped to lift others up in their times of uncertainty and of trouble. What unbounded joy this thought brought to my soul! That God used me to spread His grace and hope here on Earth was only the highest of honors.
As I reconstructed the final shards that remained, the complete picture of my heart became clear to me. Because of my selfless disposition, I tended to put others’ needs before my own, especially those of my boyfriend. I did this to such a great extent that I frequently forgot about my own needs entirely. I desired so passionately for others to be at peace with who they were and where they were at in life that I forgot that I mattered, too. That I was important, too.
It was the first time that I realized that my own heart was – that my own heart is – my most valuable treasure of all.
In my first relationship, I treasured my first love so passionately that I forgot that I myself was a treasure. I thought my boyfriend's love was more significant than my love. How naïve, how childish – how ridiculous! – it is to forget that your life and love are of the utmost value to yourself, not only to others. As much of a privilege it is to love and to serve others, your life is yours. Besides God who is with us to the end of the age, you are the only one who walks in your footsteps each and every day. Love yourself, take pride in yourself, and find joy in taking part in that which makes you most happy. You don’t need anyone else in this world to fulfill you, so never believe that anyone else is essential to you being you.
I don’t regret my first boyfriend. Although he may have shattered me, he also loved me wholeheartedly, as I did him. At times, he valued me like the treasure that I am. But never again will I believe that I need anyone to make me complete like I did in the past. God has created me to be independent from needing others and dependent upon Him.
Lord, what an unequivocal privilege it is to spread the same love that you so selflessly shower upon me day by day unto your sons and daughters around me! You call me to love and to sow the seeds of your goodness and mercy wherever I tread, at all times of day and of 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 praises be to you for every blessed soul that you have brought into my life and given me the privilege to touch with your love. Thank you for every moment of love that has passed, the love surrounding me in the present, and the love that will surely come in the future. And if I may be shattered again, I have faith that you will be with me, pouring out your infinite grace and unconditional love throughout it all and shaping me to best serve as the daughter of Christ that you have made me to be. Amen.