Who Broke Your Heart?
This is a very important question to ponder, because it’s often at the root of many fears (fear of abandonment, fear of rejection); bitterness (anger, unforgiveness) and worst of all, self-pity, which separates you from yourself, from others and from God.
If you have a broken heart, you expect to be hurt by everyone for the rest of your life. In order to get past this, you need to stop taking the sins of others into your body.
For example, my broken heart came with my first instance of sexual abuse by my father, and hearing my mother say in response: “I wish she’d never been born.” Neither the abuse, nor her hurtful comment had anything to do with me, though I believed it did.
Once I realized that they were responsible for my care and protection, and their actions were arising from their lower natures, and hooked into my lower nature when I believed it had anything to do with me, I was able to get free of my self-pity.
We learn a lot from stories, so here are some stories from my readers, and my replies.
One of my readers told me:
When I was very young it took me a long time to get over a broken heart and as time went on and my heart got broken over and over, I developed a shell which tried to protect me from showing my feelings.
That’s a perfect description of how we react! I think this shell we develop keeps out the love of God, too! And in order to have God in our hearts, we have to dismantle the shell. One way to do it is through prayer, which has the power to burn away all the veils:
O Thou Who art the Lord of all names and the Maker of the heavens! I beseech Thee by them Who are the Day-Springs of Thine invisible Essence, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, to make of my prayer a fire that will burn away the veils which have shut me out from Thy beauty, and a light that will lead me unto the ocean of Thy Presence. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 317)
Another reader wrote:
Well, I think my first broken heart may have occurred very early on. My mother kept telling me how she had not wanted me, how much pain she was in when I was born, etc. But then it was the war years; my father disappeared for years in the air force. I bonded with my step-grandfather where we had to go to live after our house was damaged by a bomb. I hated my grandmother as she was constantly criticizing my mother and her husband (he had lost his job) and I guess our living was crowded in a small apartment – and – unknown to me, my mother got pregnant again. Anyway, I used to find love and comfort with my step-grandfather; then he disappeared!
I heard someone at the front door one day telling my mother that they had found him hanging in the back of a van at his old work place. I was not told anything because I was ‘too young’ to know, but I did know! So, I never said goodbye. I grieved silently and was angry that he had left me with two women who were not able to love me – they being in constant depression.
Another small heartbreak: I passionately believed in Father Christmas. Children at school made fun of me because of that belief (I think I also believed in Fairies!). Anyway one day I confronted my mother who I had believed never lied to me – I was crushed when she finally told me that Father Christmas did not exist and that it was my parents who filled my Christmas stocking. I grieved that for years and Christmas was never the same. I also grieved that my birthday on the 30th December was not really celebrated because all our family had birthdays around Christmas – my mother’s on 29th – and money was scarce. Then, in my early 20’s I found the Faith, or rather Baha’u’llah found me!
When I saw the photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Baha I was overwhelmed – here was my Father Christmas – he did exist! Also I discovered that the 19 day Feast was on 30th December, so wherever I go in the world there is a ready-made celebration!!! God’s sense of humour?
When I put together a list of people who’d broken my heart, Santa Claus didn’t make it until I read your story. Like you, I held onto my belief in him until I was 11-12. I needed to believe there was some good in this world! One day a neighbor brought me a dictionary with a definition to prove he didn’t exist and I felt truly betrayed! But there had been so many other betrayals in my life, this one got buried! I know that I NEVER taught my son to believe in Santa, because I didn’t want him to feel that deception.
I think that might be one reason why ‘Abdul-Bahá wants us to let go of superstitions and past traditions:
It is evident therefore that . . . antiquated forms of belief and ancestral imitations which are at variance with the foundation of divine reality must also pass away and be reformed. They must be abandoned and new conditions be recognized . . . New remedy and solution for human problems must be adopted . . Therefore it is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love . . . For if we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 228)
I think your willingness to transform your pain around your birthday into joy at being able to celebrate with people from around the world, is an embodiment of this quote.
Another reader added:
My parents were Baha’is but there was still a lot of issues that they carried into the marriage and family from their pasts. My first Christmas memory is when I was 7. I stared out the window at the sky, believing that there really was this loving, generous man out there visiting all the children and bringing them what they wanted. And I wrote a letter to him and in my heart of hearts pleaded for him to know what I wanted (since he was magic and all) and I asked him for the difficulties in my family to disappear. Please let them end, I prayed. They didn’t ever end of course, but now that I am an adult I can look and see that God listened to my prayer that night – not Santa – and my prayer was answered by God creating me to be a loving and peaceful mom. My family now is so much different than my family of origin. I got my wish! Yá Baha’u’llah Abhá!
I have the exact same story! Except I prayed to God to make the abuse stop and when it didn’t, I stopped believing in God and became an atheist for 10 years.
By what series of events I managed to find God again, is a mystery to be revealed only in the next world! But like you, I am grateful!
And now I realize that God did make the abuse stop because like you, I have broken the multigenerational chain of abuse in my family. If he’d made it stop when I was a child, I might easily have continued the cycle! So He did answer my prayer, just not in the time or way I could have imagined. As always, His ways and His timing are perfect! Yá Baha’u’llah Abhá!
Another reader wrote:
My parents had a very difficult time showing love to my sister and I. They would always tell us “stop complaining because you have it better than we did.” and that was their way of saying we love you. I didn’t understand what it meant as a child though and felt unloved and invisible for my whole life. (ie. my heart was broken)
I worked on forgiving them and all the usual personal development stuff with therapists in my 20s but the final piece of my acceptance and letting go of self-pity was when I really understood what they had gone through in their upbringing.
They were children born right after the end of the war. Both sets of parents were deeply damaged from the war in many, many ways. The trauma my grand-parents went through was heart wrenching and it has had far reaching effects on my parents.
When I put their lives into perspective I really felt my heart heal. I let go of self-pity in this regard and loved them deeper than I ever had before. I thank God that they did the best they could and commend them 1000 times over for giving me and my sister a “better home than they had”…and it’s true…they really did.
It was better because they were Baha’is and I was raised going to Feasts which I believe is what saved me from serious and severe mental illness and enabled me to be able to recover from the trauma of my childhood with grace. Feasts saved my life. I have no doubt about that.
That is such an important point! Christians call it “sins of the father” and here’s a quote to back up what you’ve said:
The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of constitution; that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children will be weak; if they are strong, the children will be robust. In the same way, purity of blood has a great effect; for the pure germ is like the superior stock which exists in plants and animals. For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 319)
Another reader wrote:
But for me from my earliest memories of my father telling me that he had never wanted me, and how that had made me closer to my mother, who always complained on how bad and horrible my father was up until the day that he died, and then for some unknown reason she shifted all her resentment upon me.
But luckily for me I came to an understanding of what was happening and had a sit down with my father and talked it all through, so that at least if we were never close we understood and accepted each other.
The next time I can say my heart was broken was when in my new community the Baha’is drove away my two youngest daughters who were on fire with the Baha’i Faith and were great ambassadors for the Faith, this truly was a great test for me.
Then the third and last time my heart I feel was broken was when I became ill and my wife told me to leave as she had not married an ill man. Of course she did not tell others this but made up many stories that others believed that I was unfaithful through to that I physically abused her. Again I have survived the pain and distress, but I know at this time I hit my greatest low in my life, not sure if it was because I was also ill, but I believe it was more of a continual buildup of rejection and pain.
But thankfully I had Baha’u’llah to turn to in my hour of need, and instead of asking why and blaming Him and God for where I was, I rather accepted and placed my life fully in His hands and so through the writings found the healing and comfort that I so truly needed. Of course whenever I think back to those times I am filled with sadness, not so much for myself but the thought of what could have been. What could have been if people reacted differently, and had more love and compassion in their lives.
I don’t know about you, but I long to live in the next world, where things like that don’t happen! It’s only knowing that by being a Bahá’í, I’m hastening the day when we’ll have the most great peace, and things will be better for my great-great grandchildren!
They can take away our money, our jobs, our health, our relationships, but they can’t take away our belief in God . . . well, I guess they can. That’s why we’re supposed to pray for steadfastness!
I was talking to a friend last night, who reminded me that Rúhíyyih Khánum always asked the Friends to pray for her steadfastness, and who could have been more steadfast? But then we remembered that she lived through the days of Mason Remy, who turned against Bahá’u’lláh at a time when she was the most vulnerable, so she ought to know.
But I’m really grateful you haven’t lost yours, and I didn’t lose mine with all my tests either. They just made us stronger, as they are meant to do. Please God, let us always be steadfast. In the meantime, and since you asked so sweetly, here’s a quote for you:
Even if all the losses of the world were to be sustained by one of the friends of God, he would still profit thereby . . . The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. (Bahá’u’lláh, Crisis & Victory, p. 154)
Isn’t it wonderful that we have a reason to be steadfast!
Today is the day for steadfastness and constancy. Blessed are they that stand firm and immovable as the rock and brave the storm and stress of this tempestuous hour. They, verily, shall be the recipients of God’s grace; they, verily, shall receive His divine assistance, and shall be truly victorious. They shall shine amidst mankind with a radiance which the dwellers of the Pavilion of Glory laud and magnify. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 17-18)
Steadfastness is a treasure that makes a man so rich as to have no need of the world or any person or any thing that is therein. Constancy is a special joy, that leads us mortals on to lofty heights, great progress, and the winning of the perfections of Heaven. All praise be to the Beloved’s holy court, for granting this most wondrous grace to His faithful people, and to His favored ones, this best of gifts. (Shoghi Effendi, Bahíyyih Khánum, p. 148)
Another reader wrote:
I was especially touched by your comments regarding a broken heart and God being the “Best Lover.” Thank you for pointing to that name of God ….remembering that Name puts into perspective the other relationships in our life that may fail us due to our human imperfections. In reality, perhaps betrayals that leave us wanting so much more faithfulness and love give us reason to turn to God, and so become blessings in disguise? I had a similar ‘ah hah’ moment one day while reading the short healing prayer when the line “love for Thee is my companion” touched me more deeply that my usual readings of the prayer….but it came during a particularly lonely, painful moment in my life.
Yes, I remember that feeling! Now when I think of God, I think of Him as my Physician, my Companion, my Friend, my Best Lover etc, and it really helps draw me closer to Him, which of course, is the purpose of our lives!
Here’s how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá healed Juliet Thompson’s broken heart:
In the afternoon He called me. He kept me in the room a long, long time, seeing many others while I sat there. When He had dismissed them all, He came close to me and took my hand.
“There is a matter,” He said, “about which I want to speak to you. The photographs of the portrait you painted of Me, you have offered them for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar. I know your circumstances, Juliet. You have not complained to Me, you have said nothing, but I know them. I know your affairs are in confusion, that you have debts, that you have that house, that you have to take care of your mother. Now I want you to keep the money” (for the photographs) “for yourself. No, no; do not feel unhappy,” (as I began to cry) “this is best. You must do exactly as I say. I will speak about this Myself to the believers. I will tell them,” He laughed, “that is it My command.”
I thanked Him brokenly. I can see Him now, pacing up and down the room in front of the line of Persians, who stood with bowed heads and folded arms in the Glory of His Presence, deeply aware of its Divineness.
Then Valiyu’llah spoke: “Juliet wants to know if You are pleased with her, or not?” (I had spoken out my troubled heart to dear Valiyu’llah.)
“I am very much pleased with the love of Juliet,” answered the Master.
My Lord, I pray that my life may please You.”
“Insha’llah.” And that was all!
“And that my services may become acceptable to You. I know I have not begun to serve You yet.”
The Master said nothing. But that night He healed my broken heart, healed it by a tone in His voice as He spoke to my mother, which was the essence of God’s tenderness, a tone unimaginable to those who have only heard the human voice. (The Diary of Juliet Thompson, p. 389-390)
What’s been your experience with a broken heart? Post your comments here: