Finding freedom in heartbreak.
BY PAIGE MCQUEEN
I’m writing this in a coffee shop. The barista smiles at me, hair curling underneath his flannel; I shoot him a quick grin. It comes off awkward and shy. So many days, this is the story of my life—the girl in the corner seat who hides her eyes. Other days, I am a star streaking across the night sky—impossible to tame, relentlessly running after a faraway sunrise. I am a girl of extremes, a girl of introverted thoughts but extroverted actions. A girl who often dances to the beat of the rain but always runs when she hears the thunder.
My life breaks, whether good or bad, have always happened in a room occupied by an espresso maker and a beanie-wearing barista. Breakups and makeups and moments when I could hear God’s voice as clear as my own intuition. Both scary hours of writing in my journal and whispering frantic prayers and wild moments of laughter with friends.
Today, I sit in this coffeeshop, and my heart is broken. It aches like a powerfully stubbed toe; I want to grab it and yell at it. Blame the thing, the person, that it slammed into. But I’m the one who didn’t pay attention to where my heart was headed. I’m the one who wasn’t attentive to my own worth.
My friends warned me at the very beginning. They smiled, but their voices would turn serious when they would tell me to tread carefully. And I agreed with them, but never truly heeded their advice. When your trusted friends give you counsel that you ignore—a crash is bound to be coming.
I fell right into the behavior that I had so vehemently denied I would. I fell and my emotions crashed, but I didn’t shatter. My heart aches terribly, but I know it will heal with time and with big gulps of air and with plane tickets and with good work and better rest. I know this--avoiding the truth of what is really happening, the pain in your heart or in your relationship or in your job, will only make the eventual return to reality harder. Avoiding the hurt doesn’t mean it isn’t simmering on low in the backburner of your soul.
Suppressing is a dangerous game. It may make you a productive little robot, but it will never make you brave. Bravery is confronting the mountain but knowing this journey is not forever. Bravery is looking your heartbreak in the face and saying, “you are here, but you are healing,” and then grasping on to joy when you can find it, whether at a pulpit or a concert or both.
Here is what I am learning: the great commission matters whether we are traversing to the end of the world or to the end of ourselves. Guys, I get so lost in my own pain and my own problems that I forget all of Jesus’ promises. I act as though this broken relationship is separate from my walk with God. I bemoan love instead of bringing it with me into the world.
When I was at my most broken in this last season, my roommate sat with me on the couch and silently listened as I exploded with confusion. She turned to me and said, “Paige, what is going to bring you the most freedom in this?”
I stared at her, befuddled. I think that many times that’s what God is asking us as well, but we think it’s more complicated than that.
But perhaps it’s not. Perhaps to bring the great commission into our own lives, we must ask these questions: What can I say and do that will set other people free? What will bring the most freedom into my life?
Today, it looks like sitting in a coffee shop and smiling back at a barista, no matter how timid or awkward I feel. It looks like not texting him back. It looks like giving a homeless man whatever cash is in my wallet.
Today, I challenge you: what will bring your freedom?