A Lesson From Being Gracefully Broken
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
My husband and I will be celebrating 15 years of marriage this summer. As we embark on this milestone, I’m reminded about our journey. I’m also humbled by the fact that our story did not start out like a fairytale. My marriage is my testimony. Most of the trials I’ve faced in my life have come through my marriage. Through it all, I’ve learned that the Lord will use what he designs to fulfill his purpose.
My first love
I remember the first time I fell “in love” I was in junior high school. The object of my love was a boy I’d describe as one of the cool kids and a bit of a rabble-rouser. In his world, there was no shortage of girls in his fan club. They gawked at him and stroked his ego. I’d like to think I wasn’t one of them, but that isn’t the case.
We went out for several months and I developed frenemies along the way because of our relationship. But that didn’t matter because I was “in love.” I got butterflies when I saw him in the hallways at school. I would rush home to do my homework because I wanted to save time to talk to him on the phone before bedtime. I believed everything he told me. I entrusted him with a few secrets and we shared our dreams for the future. And we spent way too much time hanging out together over the summer months.
On one of our visits in particular, I gave him a precious gift: my virginity. As an adult and mom of a daughter today, I cringe at the thought. Where were my parents? Well, my dad was very absent in my childhood. A situation way too many children find themselves today. Because it was summertime, I’m sure my mom was at work. Another situation that too many moms find themselves today. What’s even more sad is that my mother probably didn’t even know where I was that day. There’s truth in Phillipians 4:8 and Proverbs 16:27-29 that says an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Idleness is a breeding ground for sin that gives way to things that are not pure, honorable or right. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t leave home that day thinking I’d fornicate that day. It really just happened but God didn’t design sex to just happen. Sexual immorality is the work of the flesh as Galatians 5:19-21 warns us.
My adult self also understands that I wasn’t “in love.” Love is a spectrum, seven layers to be exact – from Eros to Agape. What I felt for him was playful love. Real, but playful and not the kind of love that’s worthy of sin and not something as treasured as a girl's virginity. The reality is our first love should be God, according to Mark 12:30 and Revelation 2:4.
I can't change the past in the words of the late great poetic Maya Angelou:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
The big break up
I also remember the first time my heart was broken. A different guy and many years after my junior high school love story. It was the night of New Year’s Eve in 2002. My fiancé and I called off our engagement. We’d argued over how we would spend the evening. I wanted to attend my church’s watch night service with my friends in our Singles Ministry and I wanted him to join me. He refused, going back on a commitment he’d made to me. His response added to a laundry list of missed commitments, wedding planning stress and our inability to get on the same page spiritually.
I cried myself to sleep that night. When I awoke the next day, I packed up all of my belongings and went home. I spent the next day in my apartment truly feeling like my heart had broken in two. I felt the same way you feel when you tear a muscle during a rigorous workout.
My heart was broken because I had experienced love in new ways in this relationship. It was much more than playful. We were soul mates in my mind. We had the kind of love that endures (dating for six years) and had an emotional and physical connection. This love was different. He was worth it.
However, at the apex of this great relationship, God showed me otherwise. It was over.
God’s love is greater
I remember sitting in my apartment sometime later praying and asking God why me. Why did I have to experience the embarrassment and shame that comes with calling off an engagement? I had to tell my family and friends. I had to call our caterer, photographer, florist, venue host, etc. to inform them that the wedding had been called off. I can recall the pity and sympathy people expressed to and for me. They tried to encourage me as best they could and in some cases it worked, even if it was only temporary. I prayed for the Lord to release me of the hurt and pain I felt. I prayed that if it wasn’t meant for us to be together to remove him from my life. I just wanted to move on from the hurt.
I can vividly remember hearing the Lord speaking to my Spirit: you want him but you need me more! Matthew 6:33 says: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The Lord wanted my heart. He’s a jealous God and He requires us to put Him before any man. I remember Him telling me that if I put complete faith in Him and dedicate myself to His work, He would bring me a husband. Again, I wish my actions were better reflective of who I am today but they weren’t. I wish I could tell you I responded on fiyah for the Lord. I didn’t respond with fervor and I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. I questioned if I’d actually heard the Lord and if I’d heard His direction clearly.
His word was clear. Very clear.
John 16:13 says: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
The problem was, I wasn’t hearing him because I was distracted and blinded by love. Day by day I started to gain more clarity and key revelations became apparent.
First, I had compromised my faith throughout our relationship. It started small like missing a few Sundays a month, not attending bible study and just stop going to fellowship. In seeking the Lord we must not waver, we must seek his presence continually, I Chronicles 16:11.
Second, I had compromised my morality. I was still having sex out of wedlock. Even though I wanted us to wait, we talked about waiting until marriage neither of us practice restraint. I caved to the sweet talks every time and I enjoyed being intimate with him. I Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that no temptation is strong enough to overtake us. God built us stronger, to endure temptation of the flesh.
Third, I had compromised my preparation for marriage. I wasn’t ready to submit to a husband. Definitely not in the way that Ephesians 5:22-23 outlines. I didn’t have a healthy view of marriage. My mom and dad were separated right before I was born and remained legally separated into my adult life. I grew up with strong women as the head of households. Submitting to the Lord was the practice I needed to prepare for marriage. I learned that marriage is a covenant with the Lord designed to reflect his relationship with us.
I did just that.
I repented. I focused on my faith. I closed my legs and I submitted to God’s way by praying, studying and serving. When I began walking in His grace, the promised gift highlighted in Ephesians 2:8, my life started to change. My boyfriend and I began worshipping and praying together. And we finally made it to the altar. Today, we have a beautiful teenage daughter and the three of us serve in various ministries inside and outside of our church. Unlike my childhood, she has two very present parents who love her dearly. I unequivocally know this would not be the story without God’s favor. I married the man who broke my heart but it was in my brokenness that God’s word became so clear. Where is the Lord breaking you so you can hear him?
Be Glam & Grace, Co-Founder