Vulnerable - Elisabeth Klein

My husband and I were having a conversation a ways back, trying to work something through, and I gently and vulnerably said, “Do you get that I’m more all-in with you than I’ve ever been with anyone? That you have the capacity to devastate me?” (He said he knew, and that he felt the same way.)

I’ve been asked, usually by fellow divorced women, how I could risk getting hurt again after being so hurt the first time.

I didn’t have a great answer for this. I usually just said that I knew I wanted partnership again so I knew that meant my heart could very well get broken again. I said this in all honesty but without really thinking through what those words meant. I was pretty flippant about it actually.

But being close to someone and letting them in is a very scary thing. Your level of risk in getting hurt directly correlates with your level of shallowness or your level of vulnerability with someone.

The cashier at the grocery store could say something snotty to me, and it might sting, but I’d know pretty quickly that those words were about her and not about me. Totally shallow relationship, based on knowing next to nothing about each other.

But the people closest to me – the ones who know my heart and my secrets and the parts about myself that make me cringe, that I’m so ashamed of – they have the power to break my heart in a thousand ways.

Now, I had a choice before I started dating. I could have looked at my desire for marriage in one hand and I could have looked at my desire to never again have my heart broken in the other. And, remembering the depth of my pain from my first broken marriage, I could have resolved that I would never in a million years let another man in so close that he’d have the influence to do something like that to me again. In other words, I could have closed up emotional shop, and I could have decided not to start dating, and I could have chosen a life of singleness.

Now some of you are still in hard marriages, and you are nowhere near even thinking about this, and you shouldn’t be thinking about this, because you need to keep your focus firmly on what’s in front of you: your marriage, your commitment, your wholeness, your children, your safety, your walk with Christ.

And some of you divorced ones have made your decision: you are going to ride off into your sunset solo, and no man will be allowed into your heart ever again. I have no words for you, sweet one, because that is between you and God.

But there are some of you who are divorced, and you divorced in a biblical way, and you are free to remarry. And you have been divorced for a good long time now and you have done the hard work and the counseling and the grieving and the healing. And you are wondering if you should date, if your heart could bear more potential anguish if it were to be broken again.

To you, this is all I know: my husband could tell me tomorrow that he never really loved me or he could up and disappear or he could leave me for someone else. That is the reality. (The equal reality, in my sinfulness, is I could do all the same things to him.) {I do not foresee any of these happening nor do I plan on doing any of these things, I’m just painting a worst-case scenario here of what can happen in this crazy life.}

But even still, in the uncertainty of this life, I felt God impress upon my heart that my job is to love my husband with everything I’ve got. And it’s God’s job to worry about my heart if it gets broken again. (And let’s be very honest here…and I’m not trying to minimize your past or even current pain…a broken heart is a terrible, terrible thing…but it will not kill you. You, who are reading this, did not die from a broken heart. You would recover from the next one just like you recovered or are recovering from this one.)

If I were to love my husband through the filter of being scared that he will hurt me, I would not love him well. Sure, I could still serve him and hold his hand and laugh with him and go to dinner with him, but I couldn’t share my heart with him (not really), and I couldn’t help carry his burdens (because I wouldn’t want to ask), and I couldn’t pray for him in a deep way (because I wouldn’t have created a safe place for him to share his heart with me).

So basically, every day I have a choice to make: to love my husband and to give God my heart or to be selfish and keep parts of my heart back from my husband and from God out of fear and a lack of trust.

And you have that choice to make as well as you decide if you are able to move forward in looking for a partner to share your life with because what it really comes down to is this: not can you trust another man with your heart again but do you trust God with your heart now?

If this post resonated with you, Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage will help you in your healing.