Dear Love Me Guru:
I am beyond heartbroken because my engagement was recently called off. I have never been married before, so I was looking forward to finally be with the person I felt was my best friend and true companion. But now, I feel totally blindsided. How does this happen? How is it possible to be in love with someone and to want to make a life with them, only to turn around and walk away? My world and my heart are shattered, and I can’t even begin to pick up the pieces. I feel numb to my core. Will you please help me?
– Shattered Heart
Dear Shattered Heart:
When an engagement is called off, there is always a sigh of relief from a relative or friend who secretly hated the would–be spouse. Expect to hear from that relative or friend soon.
In all seriousness, my heart goes out to you. While I don’t know the details of your broken engagement — and I don’t need to know them — I do know how it feels because I’ve been there myself.
One moment you’re planning your whole life with this person that you’ve gotten to know so intimately, and whom you’ve chosen as partner. The next moment, you find yourself alone. Again.
Having an engagement called off is very disorienting. You loose a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and even a sense of self. Your heart and your head are in complete discord from one another, and your body begins to shut down. You lose sleep, you don’t eat, and there is pain. Emotional pain. Psychological pain. Physical pain. Spiritual pain. So much pain.
And the grief you feel is like someone died. This person who stood next to you, who comforted you, who laughed with you, who cried with you, who shared your deepest secrets . . . that person is no longer there. And it seems more probable that someone would resurrect from the dead than to have that person come back to you, and have things go back to the way they were.
I recently heard an amazing story. A true story. I heard it straight from the lips of the person who lived it. Her name is Eleanor.
Eleanor is an elderly woman I met a couple of weeks ago. When she was eight years old, Eleanor lived in Germany during the Second World War. She loved to play with her best friend. The two girls would usually frolic around town. One day, as Eleanor and her friend were walking home, they heard the sirens announcing an approaching air raid. The Allied forces had been bombing the neighboring region, and now they were about to bomb Eleanor’s town. The two girls ran to the nearest underground bomb shelter. As Eleanor ran, she prayed to God with all her simple faith: “Please Heavenly Father, don’t let me die.”
The girls ran as fast as their little legs could carry them. As they approached the nearest entrance to the bomb shelter, they saw the heavy doors close. The two girls bangged on the doors with their small fists, and plead to be let in. But the doors didn’t open. The next entrance to the bomb shelter was at the end of the street, and by the time the girls starting running toward it, bombs were raining down on Eleanor’s town. Now filled with terror, Eleanor and her friend dashed to the end of the street, screaming and crying. Eleanor again prayed to God: “Please Heavenly Father, don’t let me die. I don’t want to die.”
The girls reached the entrance just in time to see it shut from within. Once again, the girls pounded on the doors and begged to be let into the shelter. Someone from inside the shelter yelled through the doors: “We can’t let you in! The shelter is full!”
Panic set into Eleanor’s young heart. The two girls were all alone in the street, completely exposed to the bombs. Suddently, they heard a loud whistle, and then a KABOOM! A bomb struck the building directly across the street from where the two little girls stood. The force of the explosion knocked the girls down, and showered them with debris. Eleanor stood up. Disoriented and ears ringing. Fire surrounded her and her friend. Her friend! Where was her friend?! Eleanor glanced around and spotted her friend through a haze of dark smoke. Eleanor hobbled over to her friend, grabbed her by the arm, and moved the two of them into the remains of the building that had just been bombed out.
The two terrorized girls huddled in a corner. Only smoke and fire were visible. KABOOM! KABOOM! KABOOM!. More bombs rained all around. Eleanor prayed one more time: “Heavenly Father, please save me! Don’t let me die!”
The girls clung to each other. Too afraid to let go. Time froze.
Eleanor doesn’t remember how long the bomb raid lasted. But she does remember what she heard and saw when it was all over. She remembers hearing people crying and calling out for their loved ones. She remembers slowly coming out from her hiding spot. She remembers seeing a huge crater right where the underground bomb shelter used to be.
Several bombs fell directly on the bomb shelter and completely destroyed it. There were over 250 people in that shelter. None survived.
If the doors to the bomb shelter had been opened for Eleanor and her friend, they would have died. Instead, they were spared because the doors were closed.
A broken engagement feels very much like a door slammed shut.
The closed door will save you.
You will not appreciate it at the moment. Perhaps someday you will understand why it was shut. You will likely never find out what you were spared from. But trust me when I say:
Closed doors save you for something more excellent!
Victim or Survivor?
When faced with challenges, you can either take on a victim mentality, or a survivor mentality. Talking with Eleanor, it was evident she had chosen to define herself as a survivor rather than a victim.
Fortunately, you’re not limited to those two options. You can define yourself however you like: the underdog who comes out on top; the heroine on a quest; the phoenix rising from the ashes; the pilgrim on a spiritual journey; etc.
Eleanor already lived her harrowing story and survived to tell the tale. You are now living yours. Define yourself in the best way you know how, surround yourself with the best company available to you, trust that the universe in all its infinite wisdom will bring you back to balance, to order, to joy, peace, and love. Make your story an marvelous tale to tell!