Single in the City: Talk to the Heart

Shobana Vetrivel   |   August 22, 2014 

Talk to the Heart

"Heart, we will forget him,

You and I, tonight!

You must forget the warmth he gave,

I will forget the light.

When you have done pray tell me,

Then I, my thoughts, will dim.

Haste! ‘lest while you’re lagging

I may remember him!"

- Emily Dickinson

I recently came across this poem and as I read it I thought of the times I have experienced similar feelings and realised almost every girl at some point has gone through heartbreak. If you haven’t, it will eventually make its way to you in some way or the other. Even if it isn’t a romantic relationship, people close to us have a way of letting us down and we keep lowering our expectations of relationships. As I’ve seen heartbreak destroy people on the inside, I wondered, “Is there a way to handle heartbreak well?”

There can be two opposite and extreme responses – ignore it or let it rule your life. Ignore it by not dealing with the emotions, loss and choosing not to talk to someone about it. I’m usually the one who tries to kill emotions as they come and find some way to cope without dealing with it. And then there are others who plunge deeply into all the emotions and struggle to come up for air. Either way, bitterness lurks around the corner.

I must confess that I haven’t always handled heartbreak well. But there have been times when I have become stronger and more humble because of it. I am usually not good at handling rejection, even in the smallest things. So when I faced rejection in a relationship, my immediate reaction was to fix the blame wherever I could - the person, the situation, the timing, anything else other than me. But God has his own way of humbling me; the verse, which was brought to my mind continually, was “In humility, count others more significant than you” (Philippians 2:3).

It wasn’t easy but I knew I had to let go without bitterness and realised that I don’t have to figure out who or what to blame. Things don’t always happen just as I planned or wanted them to be. I am not the impartial Judge who can figure everything out. Instead I can choose to trust God who is in control and entrust myself to the one who heals the brokenhearted and be secure in my identity in Christ. It took time but the healing allowed me to be stronger and endure the smaller heartbreaks, which countlessly come our way.

How can we recover from heartbreak without allowing bitterness to creep in? In response to that, let me offer a few suggestions on how I’ve learned, over time, to handle heartbreak:

1. Grieve and Give it to God: When I read the Psalms I see the cries of the heart of the psalmist as he brings all his emotions before God. We can be totally open and vulnerable before God. He seems to be able to handle all of it. Even thoughts of violence and destruction against our enemies! When we pray our tears to God, we acknowledge that he alone is the one who is just and impartial and we can safely leave our woes with him.

2. Share with Someone: We are not meant to handle heartbreak  alone. We are placed in a community with people who can speak grace and truth to us. Finding someone you trust, who will listen well, who can help you voice it out or even cry it out, without breaking your confidence, is an important part of the healing process. It’s just as important to be that person for someone else struggling through heartbreak.

3. Display Character Not Cynicism: The hardest thing is allowing for growth of character – to be forgiving, loving, and gracious even when you would rather hold a grudge, be indifferent and cynical about men, God and relationships in general. To be able to be the person who can still turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, give more than expected and show grace upon grace - don’t we want that more than bitterness and cynicism?

Heartbreak ultimately shows us that we are not in control, most certainly not in control of anyone else’s heart. It gives us the space to be more humble, more gracious, more loving and more dependent on God who is sovereign and good. It can break us but also allow for light to shine through the brokenness and strengthen our hope in the world to come.

What has helped you handle heartbreak in your own life?


Photo Credit: ruben alexander via Flickr cc

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Shobana Vetrivel

Shobana Vetrivel enjoys the hustle and bustle of city life and the adventure of living in New Delhi. She has an educational background in social development and theology and has worked in both development and ministry settings. She currently works with Delhi School of Theology and is pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology. Books, travelling, theology, coffee and deep conversations are a few of her favourite things.  

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4 comments on “Single in the City: Talk to the Heart”

  1. Thanks Shobana for the wonderful words of wisdom. I plan to share this with a group of young girls and so that they are enriched and strengthened in the Lord to face any kind of heartbreak.

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