Strong Enough to Love Again

“I love you.”

Three little words that we all long to hear.

Love is a powerful thing, yet it is also a dangerous thing. It involves a complete sense of trust, trusting your entire self to another person. And a promise to be honest and true in that relationship, respecting that trust. When that trust is lost and honesty falters, it is then that the relationship crumbles, breaking the hearts of those involved.

A diamond ring - what does that mean to us as girls? A commitment to a relationship? A promise to love another person? A prospect of marriage in the near future? That was what I thought when my boyfriend of 4 ½ years got down on one knee and asked me if I wanted to marry him. I had been dating Mike since my junior year of high school. We met in band class, had our flirty drama on a trip to Disney World for a competition, and started dating a few weeks later. Throughout our relationship we had ups and downs, as every relationship does, our good times and bad, our struggles and our times of happiness. But through it all we managed to become stronger and grow together as a couple.

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We prayed together, talked all the time, went on dates, even visited each other over long distance at college since he goes to Virginia Tech which was about a 5 hour drive from Mount St. Mary’s. Our relationship had been through so much and it seemed like we were just growing closer every day. I felt like part of his family; I attended parties with them, spent lots of time at their house, got to know cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, went to games and outings with them, and became close with his parents and siblings. I was even asked to be one of four bridesmaids in his sister’s wedding! We had picked out bridesmaids dresses; short length strapless orange dresses with pockets from David’s Bridal – orange to go with her Virginia Tech colored theme.

So when I got a phone call from Mike the September of my senior year of college saying that he felt like we weren’t meant to be together, I was in total shock. Being in a long distance relationship we had had instances of doubt and times of struggle before but this time he seemed like he meant the break for real. Just hearing those words were like a dagger stabbing my heart. “I don’t think we are meant to be together.” “I don’t think I am good enough for you.” “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” “There are too many problems.” He continued to list other reasons that just seemed like fake ways to get out of saying what was really on his mind. But I couldn’t get it through my head, what had changed so recently that made everything different? Why hadn’t he talked to me about this two weekends before when he had come up to visit me? Why were we no longer right for one another? Why after 4 ½ years and a diamond ring was he backing out? What had I done wrong? I was left feeling alone, crushed, and heartbroken. How would I be able to go on? How could I live another day?

Life from there just seemed to go down hill. I spiraled into depression. I had thoughts of suicide. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was crying all the time. I lost 30 pounds in the first month and developed insomnia where it takes hours to fall asleep and then I wake up sporadically throughout the night, normally starting at 4 in the morning. Since I had my education internship I had to be up at 6 every day to get ready to go to school, put on a bright face, teach my 3rd graders, and keep on top of the monstrous amount of work I found myself having to do. I felt that I could not make it through even one day at a time. I had truly hit rock bottom.

But as Matthew West says in his song “Strong Enough,” once you hit rock bottom that’s when you start looking up. And day by day I survived, I found myself looking for the little things in life to make me happy. A text from my mom in the morning. Something cute one of my students would say in class. A call from one of my best friends. Hearing a good song on the radio. But even in these things I still felt unfulfilled. That hole that he had left in my heart was not going away and I could feel its presence more and more every day.

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But as time went on I started turning to Christ. I began going to daily Mass more often. I tried praying with friends. I said an occasional rosary on my drive to school. And I realized that it was only when I was with Jesus, in front of him in the Blessed Sacrament, that I felt whole. I felt a sense of peace. A sort of calm. That I was at last somewhere safe where no one else could hurt me. Wrapped in my savior’s love, I found strength. And so I jumped right up there on the cross and threw myself into his arms, giving Him my heart and all of me along with it.

It was in hitting rock bottom that I realized that it was really Christ who I needed to turn to. He would be the strength I would need. I realized that I needed to give myself fully to Christ and his love. That God is the only one who loves us completely, wholly, unconditionally, the way we are meant to be loved. And that love will never fail. God will never back out on us, never leave us hanging, never walk away from us, never leave us brokenhearted. And most importantly, He will heal our broken hearts. It is God’s love that we are truly called to.

But with this relationship, just as with any other, it is a two way street. God will not force us to love Him. And He will not control our wills. But He will wait with arms open wide for us to come running back to Him, ready to love Him back in the way he deserves.

We will have many relationships throughout our lives on many different levels, all of which will change as we grow and mature together with the other person. But it is absolutely essential for us to base those relationships, whomever they happen to be with, on Christ. He is the true source of love, the true example of love, the ultimate fulfillment of love. It is only in Him that we will find real love – not that butterfly feeling that our society tells us to give in to, but the deep true love of our souls and whole person, for better and for worse that God made us for. He created us, who better than Him to know how we are meant to love and be loved?

It is true that time heals all wounds. I am still not completely healed from the broken relationship I had but I can now begin to look back on it and realize the flaws that were in it, the places that God was not in that relationship, the discovery that he had been cheating on me, the realization that I really will be better off without him, and that I deserve to be loved completely for who I am. God has a plan for me, for each one of us. And even though I feel like I will never be good enough for anyone and that no one will ever want me or love me again, I know that if I just keep turning to God that He will guide me on the right path. That night Mike broke my heart; he crushed it into a million little pieces. But that night God reached down and picked up every last piece and started to put them back together.


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Sarah Conrad

graduated from Mount St. Mary's University with a BA in English and  BS in Elementary Education. She is now the Preschool Director for the Cathedral School in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Sarah also works as a choreographer and director for the Children's Theater in Arlington. Her favorite subject to talk about with her kids is religion - small children have such a genuine love of life and desire to know more about God, which inspires her to life live to the fullest every day