Message: So I’ve been through many many heartbreaks wondering when I’ll be able to catch a break from the pain. I always do good and have a good heart. I try to believe everything happens for a reason and each pain God is teaching me a lesson. But with each moment where I feel like nothing is working out for me I feel hopeless like God doesn’t want me to feel happiness.

I went through a lot of pain and recently I met the man of my dreams everything was perfect. He fell for me as well but he has a girlfriend who he’s been with for what seems like a lifetime. He called me his fairytale and if he was single he’d be chasing me. I didn’t want to break up a relationship but he was my dream. Perfect family, religious etc. but he chose to stay with her despite him calling it an unhealthy relationship.

My heart was crushed because I believed God finally put an amazing guy in my life. I’m afraid I’ll never find someone like him and wonder if we’ll ever cross paths again. It just hurts not being chosen even though I made him feel a side of him he hasn’t felt in a very very long time.

I just don’t want God putting people in my life to break my heart or disappoint me when all I do for others is care and love like how I was taught to give everyone my all.

Response: In reading your note I must encourage you--it is clear to me that you have indeed been given an incredible capacity to love. I want to affirm that. I also want to remind you about a couple things I'm sure you've read about God, but we must revisit it just now, as you're mourning a heartbreak.

1.      God calls himself our Father.

The Bible paints a beautiful picture to describe our relationship with God. He is our Father; we are His children. God is so into this idea that he calls himself Father 265 times in scripture. Most of those are found in the New Testament since through Christ, we get to identify ourselves as adopted into the family  (Romans 8:15).

2.      He wants to make sure we know he’s the GOOD kind of father.

I have the privilege of having a dad who I know is a good father, but for some, the word father makes them think of absence, rejection or outright abuse. This is why it’s so important to understand that God is not only our Father, but He is a good Father. Your letter seems to doubt this—and doubting or questioning is never wrong, but if you truly believe that the same prodigal son and jealous older brother who are embraced in Luke 15 represent our Father, then you can know he’s embracing you too. If you can believe that the father notes and cares for a sparrow in Matthew, you can imaginine him taking note of your trouble too. If you believe that God is likened to a father who goes after every one of His children, pursuing a relationship with them, just as a shepherd tirelessly searches for a lost sheep in Luke 15, then you can be sure he’s coming after you in great tenderness too.

3.      Don’t confuse the call to love with the call to date.

Now here is the part where I hope you’ll forgive me for speaking straight. God gave you a lot of love and he wants you to be loving, as you said you have been taught, but God’s call was never to be mistaken as a call to date or to become romantically involved with people who aren’t a match for you. Of course, I don’t have all the facts on previous heartbreaks, but in this case, you chose to spend time with and fall for a man who was completely unsuitable for you. How do I know? Because he wasn’t available, amongst other things. I am SO sympathetic on the not being chosen part…I too have felt the sting of hope for love fading as a guy who seemed to be perfect chose someone else. As I have told many girls in our situation—sometimes God allows us to have deep love for people so that we can understand his heart for the lost.

4.      Get yourself a shopping list.

My dear girl, you’ve got to know what you’re looking for and not accept less. I never go to the store without a list, otherwise I’ll grab junk food or things that don’t go together and they’ll go bad in the fridge. It’s the same with dating. Make a small list of non-negotiable traits for whom you’ll end up with, and a list of things you’re hopeful for. Have 2 or 3 happily married couples you know have Godly marriages look it over to make sure you’re not crazy. Your list will change and you’ll try to make it fit certain guys, but it’s a starting place. The more you stick to the list, the better off you’ll be!

5.      Be Clear About Your Boundaries.

I’m going to say something that modern, empowered women might sound surprising: I still believe the man should pursue—and he is not free to pursue you with his whole heart unless he’s single. It’s not because you can’t get his attention—you sure can. It’s so that it clarifies in his mind that you are worth working for, because no one values a trophy that they didn’t have to earn. In your case, you chose him first, before he had chosen you, which is why it hurt so much. YOU must do the choosing, my darling girl. YOU must make sure he is worthy to be chosen before putting your hopes into a romantic relationship. YOU get to set the standards and boundaries—and by the way, every really good guy will want to be with you more fervently because of your standards, not less. Every guy’s dream is win the heart of girl who has high standards because then he knows he’s a worthy champion. His worst nightmare is to feel like he is with a girl whom anyone else could have gotten. I don’t tell you this to berate or embarrass you, but to encourage you to see yourself as a prize to be won. It does take knowing how beautiful and important you are in Christ to be able to do this, so surround yourself with people who can remind you of this!

Last word: If you find yourself in a slightly more than friendly discussion in the future and someone who is not single, not Christian, not employed, addicted to porn, rude to his mother or possesses any number of traits that you know would have to be remedied before you could be number one in his life, use this something like this to kindly but firmly state your boundaries.  “I’m really flattered that you like me, and I know you’re a wonderful person. The thing is, I’m an all-in person and I know this would create conflict in the future. I really care about you, and so let’s keep our conversation on the friend level.

BTW, this might mean they’re not interested in changing or it might be the push they need to create change, but can love them as a friend and limit your time until it’s apparent that God’s worked a miracle! This is why it’s important to be making friends and talking to people all the time—you have to be able to keep perspective when things don’t go as you’d hoped.

God is a good father, with good plans for you. Don’t let fear make you settle for a guy who isn’t a match for you.