The Anatomy of a Broken Heart

Growth Life Love Stories

Part III of IV


Somewhere in the middle of my 20’s, when life began to settle, I set my heart’s compass to find love, to get married and to have a family.  One piece of advice I was given was to make a list of things I wanted in a husband but make five of those qualities deal breakers.  Choose the 5 most important, and don’t falter on them, no matter what.  Write them down and when you find yourself falling in love, check the list…because a heart falling in love cannot be trusted. I did it.  There aren’t many things I enjoy more than a plan that includes a list.

The very last thing on my list was “find someone who loves you the way Sam does, and never settle for anything less.”  He’d been my best friend forever.  He always cared for me, always answered my calls no matter the time or how long a distance they came from and he always made me feel that everything would be okay no matter what.  More than anything he always made sure I knew I deserved the best from others and from life.

Later that same year, Sam and I fell in love.  Not only did he think I deserved the best, he wanted to know with certainty that I would have it, by giving it to me himself.  Out of nowhere, he offered me the things that only my heart and I knew I wanted.  The things I was too scared to say aloud, for fear of the disappointment of dreaming too big and wanting a life I couldn’t have.  Somehow without me telling him, he knew what those things were, and asked if he could be the one to give them to me.  I said yes.

I knew I wanted to do the same for him, whatever it took.  I drove 2 1/2 hours every Friday no matter the weather over the snowy pass and I woke up at 3:30 on Monday mornings to make it back to work on time. I sent him poems in the morning to make sure he knew I loved him and hid 12 gifts throughout his house every Christmas to make up for the days I couldn’t be there.  Even if it meant weeknight turn and burns to have pizza for his mom’s birthday, if it mattered, I was there.  I learned all his favorite things, folded his laundry before he knew he had any and together we hosted every family gathering we could get our hands on.  I stayed awake so he could rest on the couch and prayed for him every night.  Every night I prayed God would bless, protect and repair this man’s heart.  I wrote poetry I didn’t know I could and baked until our couches smelled permanently of cinnamon and chocolate chips…but it wasn’t enough.  It was never enough and it was never just me.

When all was said and done, I had to go… and I was devastated.  Everything I had ever wanted, tried so hard and sacrificed so much for was gone.  I wasn’t losing a relationship, I was losing my home, the person I was going to marry, my best friend, the children I thought we’d have.  Everything I thought I was finally getting, was gone…

I was in deep.  So deep that to unravel a relationship like that, it’s hard to do without unraveling a big part of yourself.

I didn’t know what to do except to go home.  But where was home? I remembered it told that, “Your home is whatever it is in this world that you love more than yourself.  Your home is that thing to which you dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results becomes inconsequential.”

My home was gone and it was anything but inconsequential.  

Until it wasn’t…

I was scared to go to church.  Scared because I knew I’d cry, scared because I knew everyone knew where I’d been.  They’d know that I had gone-for-broke and that I failed…but I went.  Under the privacy of night I went, and I prayed.  I just prayed God would make me whole again…over and over.   I didn’t care if I was alone, if I could just be whole. That this huge part of my heart I had given away, He could repair.  

Slowly, surely, with a lot of faith, love, trust and allowing myself to love and be loved by other people in different ways, He made me more whole than I had ever been.  The more I loved, the happier I was; it couldn’t be contained.  Because of this great loss, I gained the greatest love and then I realized what I actually found… and changed my list:

“Find someone who desires to love and protect your heart the way God does, and don’t settle for anything less.”

I don’t imagine what that would even look like quite yet, but it’s incredible to think it could exist.  What an amazing dream. What an amazing gift.


That night I cried a little on the drive home, roasted a chicken and went to bed.



Part III came with a playlist of its own; here are some songs from it…

NeedtoBreathe, Be Here Long

Grayson Kessenich, I Want to Come Home

Ben Rector, When a Heart Breaks

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