My Broken Engagement was God’s greatest Gift to Me

By Brittany Allen 
Originally published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 3.
 

In the wee hours of the morning, I gazed with tear-stained eyes at the ring on my little finger. I was shocked but at the same time had known all along it would play out that way. He had broken up with me so many times I’d lost count. I don’t know why I thought it would be different once marriage was on the table, but I wanted to believe it would be. Pain gripped my heart as memories flooded my mind of saying yes to the dress and flipping through bridal magazines. Plans were made and a date was set. 

Carried On 

However pathetic, I begged him to change his mind as we spoke over the phone past midnight. After he’d dropped such a bomb on my heart, I couldn’t let him hang up. “Please don’t hang up. This hurts so bad. How could you do this to me?!” I wanted him to feel an ounce of pity. Pity for the last year and a half he put me through. For the cheating and broken promises. But I received none. My heart continued to shatter with each word he said. By the time he hung up, I was so consumed with heartache my will to live was dwindling away. 

By God’s grace, I fell asleep that night. I remember the moment clearly as my head laid on the pillow. The tears slowly dried as I finally felt the Lord’s peace calm my mind, giving me a chance to forget the nightmare I was living. Morning came and as I opened my eyes, I felt the crippling pain of reality wring out every bit of strength in my body. I needed to go to work, but I couldn’t move. I will never forget what happened next. I got up. I got ready. And I went to work. Numerous times throughout the day, I asked myself “How am I doing this?” as I smiled and assisted customers. I can’t find the words to help you understand what happened that day. All I know is I am 100% certain that the Lord himself carried me through. I didn’t muster up the strength, and he didn’t just give me a push. His grace poured over me like a wave that carried me to shore. 

Idols and Heart Wars 

Since 16, I had never been the girl who stayed single for very long. Always trying to fill the void, I’d jump into a new relationship almost immediately. But now, I was a new Christian, and I knew those days were behind me. What I didn’t know was how to be alone, nor could I stand the thought of it. I believed I needed a man in order to be happy or to feel I had any worth. 

Over the course of about 2 1/2 years, the Lord took me on a journey of deep healing. Healing I didn’t even know I needed.  When God allows something painful in your life, you can be sure he will use it to sanctify and grow you closer to him. You see, I had a much deeper issue in my heart than just the wounds caused by this broken engagement. Those wounds were obvious. But hidden under the surface was the infection which was the real cause of my pain. God was not sitting on the throne of my heart – my ex fiancé was. There was a war for my heart, and God was jealous over my attention. 

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24 ESV) 

For years, I was blinded to the fact that I idolized men. I worshiped how they made me feel, the attention they gave me, the comfort they sometimes provided. This is why I found myself walking the road of promiscuity. Because it was there that I found all that my sinful heart craved. I was a broken girl who often felt rejected by my father, so I searched for acceptance by sacrificing my purity on the altar of boys. 

It only took a couple weeks without my ex fiancé in my life before the veil was lifted. I could see clearly the control I allowed him to have over me. Likewise, it only took a couple weeks for him to beg on his knees for me to take him back. But by then, God had already begun to break the chains of bondage I had clung so tightly to. And with each text, call or pop up at my door, everything became more and more clear. I still to this day praise the Lord for ripping that man from my arms!  Though I felt tremendous pain for many months, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. Our Lord always knows best. We can trust him in every circumstance. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV) 

Allowing God To Become My All 

Clearing my heart of this idol was a process. There was pressing temptation to fall into old sin. There was deep sorrow as I watched the man who broke me marry before me.  There were nights of crying alone on my bed praying these words, “Please bring me a husband. I’m so lonely. My heart hurts so badly.” God was faithful through it all to remind me that what I needed was not a husband, but himself instead. He is the only one who can mend a broken heart and truly satisfy and provide for our every need (Psalm 147:3). 

I’ll always remember the moment I truly felt freed from the heartache I had endured. I was in my apartment on a Friday night studying my Bible—and I was okay with it. Actually, there was no place and no one I would have rather spent my Friday with. I was alone physically but very aware of God’s presence, andhe was enough.  Contentment, a word I was not fond of, had settled upon my heart.  I never believed it was possible to be happy and content in a period of singleness. But God had done a miraculous work in me. 

Happily Ever After 

My “happy ending” was not that I found a husband. My “happy ending” was finding everything I needed in Christ and Christ alone. He became my soul’s greatest desire, and that brought more freedom than I had ever dreamed. 

For the sake of those who are curious, yes, God did bring a husband my direction. A wonderful, godly man who loves me so well. But as amazing as it is to be married, I will always miss the beauty of my season of singleness where all my affection went to the Lord. 

I’m beyond thankful for what God taught me and how he molded me during that season. Had he not pointed out the false refuge in my life, I would not be the wife I am today. I would still believe men are the answer to all my problems. Many women do believe they need a man to be happy, and when their husband fails them, they look elsewhere. I have no doubt that I would have become one of those poor women, deceived into thinking I needed to marry a different man to find happiness. But God was merciful to bring to the surface sin I was unaware of.He has saved me from much heartache by allowing my heart to ache so that he could change me. That’s why my broken engagement was God’s best gift to me. He is faithful. He is good. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, 
 for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1 ESV) 

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