Your Heart for the Bridegroom
“Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” - Proverbs 4:23
How can we be sure that future relationships will be successful? The truth is that we probably can’t be sure. “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall,” but we can take steps to ensure that, in as far as we can, we will be set up for ongoing success.
Relationships are God’s vehicle for reflecting all that He has for us in community. As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enjoying each other in a perfect flow of relationship, so He gave us each other to enjoy communion as reflection of what He enjoys. When this takes place, nothing can compare with it – when relationships are broken and breakdown, pain is the result. All of us know, to some extent or another, how painful it is when our hearts are hurting. Some of those hurts seem to heal quickly and our lives move on with no awareness of scars or lingering pain. Others invade our lives daily, sometimes taking us by surprise, while at other times we brace ourselves for the ongoing hurt that seems to get no easier with the passing of time.
When this happens in a marriage, or a relationship that is intent on marriage, the pain and consequences cannot be expressed with words alone. Divorce can mean a lifetime of meeting the consequences of that breakdown and walking through its minefields. Sometimes it seems that the pain will never disappear and will inevitably be part of the future.
Sadly, this is so for many people. However, He whose Name is Redeemer, Savior, Healer has the power to mend the unmendable, to heal the broken heart, and restore where there is no hope. The path to healing is not a template to be placed over a broken life, but a journey that can be quite different for every person and every situation. Suffice it to say that those who pursue healing can move forward without pain at every corner. There may be consequences for a life time, but facing these without the deep pain is a whole different story.
How can I know when I am healed? It is most certainly not a matter of waking one morning and finding it all over, but the following may be some indications that healing is certainly in sight:
We are no longer looking for another relationship to help take the pain away, but have entered into the joy and fulfillment of singleness.
We are happy and content in our singleness, not striving to be completed in another.
We can face the consequences of the breakdown without fear and turmoil.
We can look back and see the good in the other person, not just those things that caused us hurt.
We can meet the other person with peace.
We see our future with hope and plan with renewed vision.
We can talk about what happened without judging, blaming, or bitterness.
We can own our part in the breakdown without condemnation and walk in the freedom of forgiveness that is offered at the cross.
We understand some of what went wrong, what steps could have been taken to avoid it, and in so doing grasp this revelation as a learning curve for the future.
Our children, if there are any, can talk about the breakdown and their other parent with freedom in our presence.
One couple decided that both of them were going to have a period of counseling to ensure they were free from all “past baggage”. To start with, it was an individual journey for them both, coming together finally for counseling as a couple. Whatever path is chosen, an intentional search for land mines that could explode in the future can only be a good thing in the hands of those who are skilled in these areas.
Moving into a relationship, whether there have been past hurts or not, is so often taken too lightly. When buying a house, a car, or other big commitment, advice is usually taken and serious thought given to the cost. When intent on pursuing a relationship, we are in the crises of making one of the most important decisions of our lives at a time when we are the most emotionally unstable. We pray through the “idol” of our heart’s passion rather than through approaching the throne with open hands and open heart to hear His will no matter what. This is where we need others who will pray, who will bring wisdom and accountability, and walk with us into the future.
Sadly, “romantic relationships” are usually entered into without such advice, with no accountability and no wisdom sought from those who know the individuals best.
People who could be brought into the process could be those in leadership in the church who know them, parents (whatever age we are - there is no one who knows us better or has our best interests at heart than our parents), and/or close friends who have proved that they will speak truth into our lives even at the risk of losing our friendship.
Then taking our time to build wholesome friendship in a group setting will give insight that can be lost when people delve right into the one-on-one relationship. It helps to avoid the pitfalls of codependency and allows healthy interaction with others. I know married couples who chose never to be alone until after their wedding day, making the decisions to avoid temptation, or even the appearance of evil, and enjoying one another within the context of others. These people are all happily married and would do the same thing again. I mention this not as a path that must be taken but to say that there are alternative ways to move forward from those that reflect the values of the world.
Another couple I know reached an agreement right at the start of their relationship and appointed another a couple to “be there” for the rest of their marriage. They agreed that either one of them could approach the couple without their spouse’s agreement if they felt the need. The avenue, they feel, has brought stability, accountability, and wisdom and has been a safety net through the ups and downs of 30 years of marriage.
Nearly everyone has couples in their lives that have had long and successful marriages – they can give wisdom and insight born out of experience. Sadly, too few will sit at their feet and learn from wisdom of the years.
Many books on marriage have been written, there are many confines and courses – all of these can only help. There are no simple answers.
However, let’s be a people who will be different, act differently, and take a different stand as we move forward. Before hearts get engaged on earth, let's have them consumed with the greatest Love of all, the greatest Bridegroom of all - our knees engaged in prayer, and our hearts sold out to no other as we fast and seek counsel and so “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” - Proverbs 4:23.