He Loved Me Enough to Break Up with Me
Published on Catholic Match Institute Blog in April 2019:
He loved me enough to break up with me
On Super Bowl Sunday two years ago, I experienced my first breakup at the time I was anticipating a proposal. The man of my dreams became my ex rather than my fiancé. We had been so excited about God’s provision throughout our relationship in the years leading up to that day, but yet he felt the timing was not right and needed space.
When we met at 25, I had yet to go on a date and be kissed for the first time. I had a passion for marriage and was on the path to becoming a licensed marriage counselor. I began to idolize marriage and longed to be a wife and mother. We talked about marriage in the first month and my heart was all in. I knew he was more than just a guy. He was the guy I had been waiting for and praying for. Once God revealed that to me, I attached and held on for dear life.
Our lives together included daily prayer, weekly Mass, regular novenas to St. Joseph, and family gatherings. However, I began to possess the gift God had given rather than receive. When he traveled abroad for work, I developed separation anxiety. When years went by without a ring, I began to believe I was a fool. I saw my identity more in being his girl, than in being God’s daughter.
Since that devastating Sunday afternoon, I have been processing hurt and confusion about where my story is leading after that gigantic curve ball caught me looking.
“God, You were here right from the start/ Holding each piece that broke apart And I'll trust You through this/ You are the maker of my heart You are the healer of my scars/ God, I will trust in who You are You are good, You speak life/ You are the Savior of the world But carry the weight of all my hurt/ You are the grace I don't deserve You are good, You speak life/ Into dust” – Mack Brock “Into Dust”
Friends have often asked me, “Do you believe you are God’s beloved daughter or an orphaned child?”
I believe I have been like Eve who let the serpent convince her she needed to grasp for her identity in earthly attachments. I am becoming more like Mary who allowed Christ to work through her as an instrument that is full of grace and trust. My name Anne means “full of grace” and I have spent these years following the breakup reflecting on who God says that I am. God has provided all of the grace that I need for this moment and the next. All I am called to do is open my hands and receive God’s goodness.
“He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of ‘eternal life’ respond, beyond all hope, to this desire... Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us.” CCC 2002
God doesn’t call us to grasp for an identity, but to receive our identity from the Giver.
I’ve studied the interaction between God and our first parents in the garden. God ordered them to not TAKE from the tree, not because He was holding out on them, but because He wanted to GIVE them the food in due time. Only God can satisfy our desires because He knows our hearts better than we do and created us for relationship with Him.
As a marriage counselor, I have been eager to have a partner of my own so I can help reveal God’s loving plan of marriage to the world. Yet, God’s plan for me now is to live in His love knowing that He is currently working everything together for my good. He spoils His children and grants them the desires of His heart. He loves us so much that He won’t give any gift at any time other than the perfect time.
We are not called to lose ourselves in marriage, but to give ourselves.
Even in marriage, we are not to receive our identity from our spouse. No human can carry that sort of load. Whether we are single, dating, engaged, or married, we are to always seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. Our partners may leave us or pass away, but God is never changing and His love is everlasting. When we live with Christ at the center, our “Yes!” becomes a gift rather than a obligation. And that is the beautiful reality of God’s love story.
“Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity.” – Pope Francis
Spend some time today in prayer reflecting on your attachments, roles, and relationships. Where are you seeking identity rather than listening to what Our Good Father says about you? Where in your life are you anxiously seeking your identity in attachments, roles, and relationships rather than in what Our Father says about you?