I’m currently reading/listening to Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I love it already. Mainly… I need it. I need to be reminded that my crazy, insane and really full life still has meaning, still has purpose in the midst of all the chaos. I so often fill it with activities, things, or work that has no purpose. To reassess current priorities is something we all often need to do.
It’s easy to be away, to take a step back and say I need to prioritize my life to be more about experiences. That’s easy. (It’s probably why I adore being anywhere but here most of the time.) But in the most mundane of days, weeks, months… priorities become skewed in the search for perfection. I am often guilty of pursing that I forget to be present in the moment. Blame it on so many things… anxiety, fear or the feeling of not “enough-ness” of it all. But I’m afraid that pursuit, that constant doing it all, can also be traced back to heartbreak… at least in my life.
Anyone has the capacity to break your heart. That’s why “guard your heart” is so often given as a warning in works of literature, the Bible, and by various intelligent people who’ve gained the fortitude to be quoted. We often think of heartbreak in the capacity of romantic love. While that is often an intense kind of heartbreak, mainly because it’s a different kind of vulnerability than we give up in any of other relationships, heartbreak comes in many different forms.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about. It’s not an easy thing to acknowledge. You have to lean into it. You have to feel it. And it feels well…heartbreaking. Soul crushing. The most resolute form of “not enough-ness” that you can feel probably comes from grief and heartbreak. The two are synonymous emotions.
So, recently, I’ve been digging into these feelings. You can’t ever really heal until you do. It all started with a few questions that came from a friend, questions that were hard to answer. Things that were hard to think about. I bury things. Well… at least the dark and twisty things you don’t even talk to your best friends about. I shove them way down deep, because not everything has to be talked about. I can be open and honest and authentic without being too vulnerable…right? I digress.
Heartbreak. The idea of crushing grief, anguish or distress. For me it’s come in the form of friends dying too soon, missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime after I’ve spent months praying over it and having incredible anxiety over it only to lose out at the last minute to someone more qualified, it came when the people who were suppose to be there for me in my darkest hour just weren’t, it came from the shaming that members of the church put me through, family that doesn’t really acknowledge so many things about me and yes, the most intense form being a couple of different relationships that were suppose to be, but just weren’t because I wasn’t enough. The “not enough-ness” is soul crushing.
The more people leave you, whether it’s forever or just their presence when you really need them, the more you just expect it. Heartbreak is one of those things in life that is cyclical. You can let it destroy you, or you can let the wounds heal and find the good in the situation.
So, needless to say, when I read this quote today I felt a pang of relief. The idea that all of this heartbreak has purpose. It beckons a call to change. Change your life, change your relationships, change your circumstances.
Losing my friends taught me to live life to the fullest, to periodically check in with myself and make sure that I’m adding value but also enjoying my life. Stop putting things off. Travel more. Knock things off my bucket list, now. Several failed romantic endeavors saved me from making terrible decisions or spending time and energy on people who ultimately are not right for me. Love is a choice. When someone doesn’t choose you, they are not right for you. The situation with the church forced me to reassess who and what I believe in and realize that the church is full of broken and fallible people and that they are not synonymous with who God is. God is love. He gives grace when humans fail to do so in so many ways. I’ve had to give up friends, distance myself emotionally from my family and break up with relationships because of situational heartbreak. I came out stronger. The change it incited made me who I am today. I am strong. I am smart. I am tenacious. I am caring. I am empathetic. I am funny. There are many other things that I am, qualities I would have probably not leaned in to had it not been for heartbreak. And… I learned to take care of myself. To be alone. I am really good at it. Sometimes you have to learn to be alone before you can think about being with anyone else.
While what I want, what my priorities are, and how I choose to spend my time may fluctuate… who I am doesn’t. Growth and evolution have come from these changes. These changes, apparently, can be chocked up to heartbreak. So, perhaps heartbreak doesn’t have to destroy us. It doesn’t always have to suck the wind right out of us. It can lead us into different seasons that we are ultimately suppose to be in.
Heartbreak can be redeeming.