From the LYWB.com Team: You read the short version of Heather Bullock’s story yesterday, but we didn’t want you to miss a single detail because we know that so many of you need healing from a broken heart. Check it out.
I was a college senior finishing my student teaching and engaged to my best friend and the love of my life. We had been together for six years, and the wedding was only three months away. Because he had begun grad school and I was finishing my teaching degree, we had been doing a long-distance relationship for the past year. Things could not have been more perfect.
Each and every detail of the wedding was falling into place better than I could have imagined. God had granted every desire of my heart! I was more in love with him than I ever had been. Filled with joy and anticipation, I went to visit him in February. While there, we found a house—our dream house at the exact price we had prayed for—with a rainbow over it when we drove up (no kidding). Cards, flowers, romantic dinners, laughter with friends, and worship at church … it was the perfect weekend.
Sunday he had to take me to the airport. With tears flowing down each of our cheeks, we said, "I’ll see you soon," as we vowed that we would never say "goodbye." He held me so tightly I could hear his heart beat heavily against his chest. He declared his love for me and his desire to marry me and have him there with him very soon. The TSA agent urged me through security. Reluctantly, I let go of the love of my life and proceeded through the checkpoint. Once through I looked back one more time; his handsome figure stood in the corridor waving and blowing kisses. Tearfully, I blew a kiss back and thanked the Lord for blessing me with such an incredible man. Little did I know that would be the last time I would see his face …
One week later, I was in the height of student teaching as well as wedding planning. All hands were on deck and I was beaming with excitement! While working on the slideshow for the reception, my phone buzzed with a text message. "We need to talk. I can’t honestly say I am in love with you—I haven’t been for quite some time. I can’t do this …" My heart stopped. Surely not! This had to be a cruel joke by one of his friends. But it was no joke. The man who held me close and promised to never break my heart had left me broken, without a job, without a plan, and without an explanation.
The days and weeks that followed were torture. Never in my life had I felt more broken; I cried more tears than I knew any one person could. I felt as if I had been run over by a freight train. He had just given me his wedding vows for Christmas; there was no warning, no fight, no face-to-face conversation—just a text message after six years together. Surely I would wake from this nightmare shortly. But still, the days dragged on. The Lord somehow gave me the strength to put on a happy face for the forty third-graders and twenty first-graders who were counting on "Miss Bullock" to make their day. However, I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually devastated.
One month later, after yet another sleepless night, I was driving to my school on the opposite end of town giving God an earful of my opinion of His plan. I cried, yelled, screamed, hit the steering wheel … I am sure it was a sight to my fellow early-morning drivers. For twenty minutes I carried on in desperation, knowing without a doubt that I heard God’s voice confirm the man, the future, the dream. "How could you let this happen to me? I don’t understand! I KNOW WHAT YOU PROMISED, GOD!" I screamed. "Have I not been through enough for You?" Oh, how I am sure those words pierced His heart.
Realizing that I needed to look composed and walk into my classroom to greet my bright-eyed babes, I attempted to end my temper tantrum and get myself together. I turned onto the road that led to the school now driving east. Rainclouds were clearing from the nighttime shower, and the sun rose over the lingering thunderheads. The sunrise was breathtaking—even without coffee! My spirit was quickly reminded of the faithfulness of our Savior. I took in a deep breath. It is HE who allows the sun to rise each day. HE who allows me each and every breath of life. The ONE to whom the storm clouds answer. The beauty of the sunrise struck my spirit, and an overwhelming peace enveloped my broken heart.
I never have my phone out when I drive, but that morning I felt like I needed a visual reminder of God’s precious promise of peace. After school I could look at the picture of the sunrise, journal, and allow Him to continue His work in my heart. Driving forty miles per hour down the road, I took my iPhone out of my purse and quickly snapped a picture. I did not look; I did not aim; I did not stop.
My mascara streaks erased, I arrived at the school and looked at the picture of the sunrise before I went inside. I literally lost my breath, and the tears flowed even harder than before. I heard the Lord remind me, "Sweet daughter, I am with you ALWAYS; before every storm, in every storm, and after every storm." A telephone pole had been captured in the light of the rising sun creating an unmistakable cross as the storm clouds faded away.
That photo has hung on my mirror ever since that beautiful Thursday morning. I need constant reminders—I am a difficult student of the Lord! Yet He so graciously and consistently reminds me of His overwhelming presence.
Why is it that on the good days it seems so easy to walk in the faith and promises of the Lord, yet when a storm blows into our lives, we panic and seem to instantly forget who is leading us? Oh those poor disciples in the boat with Jesus (Mark 4:35–41; Matt. 14:31)! They forgot that Jesus was the one who led them into the storm in the first place. I would cringe if I got to heaven and heard the Lord say, "Heather of such little faith, why did you doubt?"
In whatever circumstance you are in, God is there. He may not be easily visible, but He promises to never leave you or forsake you (Deut. 31:6). In this life, we will all suffer pain, disappointment, and loss, but God is still in control despite what you or I might think. Sometimes He will calm the storm that you are in; other times He will calm you in order that you might withstand it. And even other times He teaches you to swim. Matthew 14 accounts Peter having faith enough to step out of the boat, yet he had to go "swimming" in order to learn the lesson necessary for his future ministry.
I am very much learning how to swim right now! Treading water is tiring, but it does build a great deal of strength and endurance. God is always faithful to His children.
Proverbs 16:9 declares, "The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." My heart had planned a way that was submitted to honoring the heart of God. He was in every decision, granted every desire of my heart, and opened every door. He had confirmed many times the promises He spoke to my heart. But being the crazy God that He is, the Lord has given us all a free will to do with what we please—a terrifying thought if you think about it long enough! The decisions of others can and do impact our own plans. The Lord has kept my feet on HIS path, moving forward, in step with Him. Out of ashes, the Lord is more than capable of creating something beautiful. Much like a pearl is birthed through pain, I am learning to take the "pains" of life and allow God to help me create something beautiful.
My God is HUGE. Capable of doing infinitely more than I could ask, dream, hope, or imagine (Eph. 3:20). And, because of that crazy free will, He is constantly in the process of working a good plan for your life and mine (Jer. 29:11). I don’t believe that God’s original intent was to place Adam and Eve in the garden knowing that they would make a bad decision. The Lord would never set us up for failure. But there is that free will thing again. . . . They could obey and believe God for His promises and walk with Him daily or they could allow the tempter to talk them out of the promises and presence of God. The Lord was still faithful to Adam and Eve. Yes, they had a consequence to pay, but the Lord still covered their wayward hearts and covered their shame with the sacrifice of the Lamb.
Take comfort in the photo above—it was too good not to share! Be reminded that the Lord who allows the sun to come up is the God who is far more aware of your needs and desires than even you are. If your storm is raging, recall who orders the wind and the waves. If you are navigating through the storm, be thankful that the Lord is your Captain. And if you are swimming, keep treading water. The hand of God as well as the hand of others is there for you to grab on to.
He is in your storm as well as in the sun that rises after the clouds have dissipated. Take heart, brave warrior! When you ask for His presence and His peace to permeate you (or you simply throw a giant-sized temper tantrum like I did), rest assured that Jesus will show up. Look to the heavens. See His beauty in the setting sun, relish His attention to detail in the night sky, and rejoice as a tiny seed pushes up through the dry earth and produces an oak tree. He is with you and will see you through any and every trial. You may still experience pain, but after all, those are the kinds of things that make us stronger! Find hope in His Sunrise.