How love broke yet restored me
Life is a winding journey, beautifully pieced together by defining make-or-break moments; it moulds and shapes our character as a result. Whenever it gets challenging, it is often easy to shine spotlights on ourselves, allowing doubt and questions to blur our vision. Where is God when we are at our breaking points; when everything in us simply yearns to give up and let go? How do we come out victorious from such situations?
It was through possibly one of life’s most defining moments — heartbreak – where I found Jesus; he met me in my brokenness, transforming my life and empowering change. I lived in Perth, Western Australia for three years and it was the city where I discovered an inner void in my heart. Like a sheet of thin ice at breaking point, I felt vulnerable to things that could tempt and distract me from walking closely with my Saviour. Soon enough, my heart was torn asunder; I was distant and far away from the Lord. Although I had been a Christian for many years and had experienced God’s goodness and love, I suddenly seemed to have lost my way.
I met my first boyfriend in 2013, midway through my second year at university and hastily entered into a relationship with him. I foolishly thought that his love for me could wash away the emptiness. While God had instructed me to seek Him before all else (Matthew 6:33) and to put Him first in this decision, my insecure heart struggled to remain single. My heart cringed at God’s Word for me and I deliberately turned a deaf ear to Him. Needless to say, I pursued this relationship at the wrong time, with utterly wrong motives.
Throughout the relationship, I constantly looked to my boyfriend to satisfy my needs. Deep down, I knew that my love for him was not supposed to self-seeking, because God’s love is selfless and enduring (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8). As much as I wanted the relationship to model Christ and be centred on Jesus, the way I lived my life was far from that. I focused on the desires of my heart, placing myself before my boyfriend on numerous occasions; I followed my selfish heart rather than following God.
Eventually, something started to feel wrong. The relationship wasn’t working. I was worn from fighting a losing battle with my insecurities and was discouraged from watching my relationship spiral downwards. Although I was hurting deep down inside, I was too afraid to uncover what I was struggling with, which resulted in constant façades, even with my boyfriend. Despite being aware of how my relationship was going awry, I stubbornly continued walking down this path.
However, I discovered a saving grace — God pursued me relentlessly, never giving up on me. He spoke to me through Tim Keller’s sermon, The Struggle For Love, and through a close friend from church. Both of them spoke the same message: I had been searching for love in all the wrong places. God constantly called out for me to return to intimacy with Him, reminding me that I am only secure and satisfied in Him. While I felt unworthy of His love and guilty of my disobedience and ignorance, God assured me that there was no condemnation for our sins in Christ (Romans 8:1-2) and affirmed that He works all things for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Right there, I realised this big sin I had committed was not an accident. Through this painful journey, God taught me this important lesson: He can use my brokenness for His glory.
As I evaluated my life, I was overwhelmed by a sense of failure and felt so stained with sinfulness; I began to imagine not being able to stand before God to account for my life when I got to Heaven (if I could even make it there). I was poor in Spirit — a lost soul without God’s guidance and direction over my life. Yet He met me, just the way I was. Looking back, God brought me through a season of surrender to rebuild the foundations in my life and to mould my identity. Just as I was helplessly submerged in my inadequacies, He beautifully called me to surrender. He is the God who has seen all my sins and loves me still, but now wants me to live a life that fears Him in all that I do.
To this day, I thank the Lord for softening my heart and embracing me in His love once again, because it is truly only His love that can change us and cause us to turn towards Him. I began to re-build my relationship with God through reading the Bible as well as worship and songwriting. As I did so, I realised how much I needed His grace and forgiveness for my sins, and that He would not overlook my broken and contrite spirit (Psalms 51:17).
During this time, my boyfriend and I decided to take a break to seek the Lord about our relationship. I sensed that I needed to let the relationship go as it was distracting me from God. My Father was disciplining me (Hebrews 12:7); although it was neither comfortable nor pleasurable, He called me to take heart in Him. After earnestly seeking God in prayer, I decided to break things off with my boyfriend last year. Although the break up was certainly painful and heart breaking, God has been faithful. Through this time, He continued to heal my heart not only from this broken relationship, but also from hurts and disappointments in other friendships. Most of all, I had a glimpse of the reality of the cross and the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made when He died for me. My desire for marriage, which I held so dear to my heart, was lost in light of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ has made for me (Philippians 3:8-11).
Is Jesus still a good God then, even if He doesn’t provide me a husband in the end, given that He knows what is best for me? As hard as it is to say this, but yes, He is. I believe that it is possible to come to a place where I can lay down my desire for marriage at His feet because of His work on the cross for me. If there is something dear you hold to your heart that you are trusting the Lord for today, I encourage you to surrender it to Him. Though it requires much faith, trust and obedience, I believe at the end of the day, it will be worth it.
Today, I have come out stronger and have found something so beautiful in my brokenness — a relationship with Jesus. Since rediscovering intimacy with Christ, I can hear His voice and feel His Holy Spirit’s leading as I continued to seek God about the right job for me in the last days of university. I am currently serving God in the marketplace, fulfilling His call for me in this current season, and life has more meaning and purpose now. God continues to challenge me each day to surrender my desire for marriage and the desires of my heart wholly to Him. He teaches me to submit to Him from a place of love for Him, as though He is my eternal husband.
I believe He truly makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3) and is in the process of completing the good work He has started in us. May we never give up on ourselves or lose hope when we find ourselves going through our defining make-or-break moments in life. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. May He increase, as we intentionally choose to decrease.