I’d seen the sad movies, and sat across many a cafe table from a teary-eyed young woman suffering from a broken heart. Happily married to my pastor husband for over 20 years, and raising three teenagers, I considered myself officially clear of any possible heartbreak in the area of love and romance. What I didn’t realize was that boyfriends and husbands aren’t the only ones who can break a girl’s heart. Sisters can too.
My sister and I have always been close. Being older, I fluctuated from being her mom to her best friend. I intervened when she dated a guy who was in a cult in high school, and helped her know how to become a Christian. I took her to theater auditions and attended every play in which she performed. I was there when she gave birth to her first baby prematurely, praying with her.
I was there when she needed to divorce her husband who was putting their family in danger with his dark lifestyle. I took care of my nieces and nephew while she dealt with lawyers, realtors, and job interviews. When finances as a single mom became more than she could handle, I contacted her pastor and set up a support system of church members. She told me she loved me and that I was her best friend. She told my husband that he was her hero and model of godly masculinity.
She sought biblical wisdom on dating after divorce. I suggested books that I knew she might consider too conservative, and to my surprise, she thanked me for the wisdom. She openly regretted her sexual sin previous to marriage, and expressed her excitement about honoring God with her dating life ~ even deciding at one point to put dating off completely until her kids had graduated from high school.
It was so wonderful to be this close again. When a couple of men from her church expressed interest, she insisted that they be interviewed by my husband desiring accountability and protection. Neither of those relationships lasted, and she determined to give dating a break and return to her conviction to wait a few years. She brought the kids to visit us that summer, and we enjoyed lingering breakfasts, fun and games, and a common faith. I felt so blessed.
Later that summer she called, excited to tell me she had signed up for an online dating service. She was defensive when I had hesitations. Eventually, she went on her first date with an unbelieving man. On the third date they kissed in his apartment, and by the second month they were sleeping together. It broke my heart.
It was difficult to talk to her about it, and even more difficult was her accusatory tone. “I never really believed those things. I was only in bondage to your approval of me. I always have been.” Stunned, I could hardly contain the tears. When I was unable to express excitement, she used the Bible against me. “Scripture says that we are supposed to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’” she said, accusing me of not being a good friend. Other friends fully approved of her relationship and she would choose to surround herself with them. My heart literally hurt inside of my chest.
I cried through an entire six mile run with my husband one morning following that phone call. “The pain is always so present,” I choked, “When will I ever feel better?” I felt foolish for believing she really loved me, silly for investing so much into a relationship that was really a lie, and I was resolving to never allow myself to grow that close to anyone, when my husband said, “But don’t you love Jesus more now?” The answer was yes. The Lord had comforted me greatly in those days, and I had been drawn to Him like never before. Once home, I went straight to my Bible ~ again.
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people. He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.” Psalm 149:4
Jesus was and is using my broken heart to “beautify me with salvation,” giving me a deeper appreciation for His faithfulness as the One who is not capable of betraying His children. I still grieve for the loss of my sister’s friendship, but am overwhelmed by the reality that He is indeed “near to the broken-hearted.”
*Author’s name is a pseudonym