Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bless the Broken Road

I recently stumbled across a courtship website -- one of the many floating around cyberspace --that uses the catch-phrase "Courtship: Never Know a Broken Heart." Additionally the site suggests that "courtship is God’s royal plan for believers to find the love of their lives in His time. It produces strong, stable, permanent marriages without all the pain and rejection along the way. " (Nevermind the fact that a university study found that courtship marriages statistically have a higher divorce rate than marriages in general.)

The site "was birthed in the heart of [the founder]... during a time of prayer and fasting, God began to reveal the sorrow of His heart for young people who go through painful journeys to find love. [The founder] heard the heart cry of the Father God that the brokeness must stop."

(It is baggage like this that caused me to avoid using the term "courtship" to refer to our relationship).

The danger in this way of thinking is that it actually sets people up for a broken heart. Out of my personal friends, there are as many "courtships" that did not end in marriage as actually did. Following a model of courtship does not guarantee that you will not experience heart break. If that is your goal upon entering a relationship, you just might be setting yourself up for a disastrous marriage. The whole point of courtship is to make sure that you are compatible for marriage and that God is in fact calling you to that. If it becomes apparent that you are not, it is far better to end the relationship than to proceed into marriage!

And ending it may leave one or both persons heartbroken. Having your heart broken is not the worse thing that could happen to you. And definitely preferably than an unwise marriage. Marriage is permanent (or at least should be). The heart mends. Depending on how you handle the heartache, it may even mend to stronger than before.

I know. In a little more than a week, I will be marrying my sweetheart (who in my humble opinion happens to be the best man alive ;). But neither of us can honestly say that we've never cared for anyone else besides each other. We've both experienced the pain that a broken relationship brings. Neither of us regret it. I would not go back in time and change that past relationship if I could, because I grew and matured from it in ways I would not have otherwise.

That's not to say that I actually recommend that everyone go out and get a broken heart. God's plan for every life is different and individual. There are many people who will not have a broken heart... romantically. But they will experience pain in other ways. A life without pain is like a life without happiness. We cannot truly feel joy without knowing what sorrow is.

We live in a fallen world. It is not God's design for us to always be "happy." James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." It is not just romance that can cause one's heart to break. Sickness, death, friendship, sin, repentence... As long as our heart still beat, they will break.