“What happens if you feel differently about me after camp?” I asked.
“That’s impossible,” he said. “That won’t happen.”
It was the end of my sophomore year in high school and everything was smooth sailing. I had the perfect boyfriend, good grades, and was doing well in sports. However, my boyfriend was about to go to camp for seven weeks, and I knew that we would be able to be in touch only through letters. I was a little worried things would change between us. I did feel somewhat better with his reassurance, and I tried to fill my summer with sports and activities to keep my mind off how much I missed him.
When we all got back to school, things seemed great … until one night when something in our conversation was different. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he wasn’t feeling the same way about me as he had before camp.
I was devastated. I was crying more than I’d ever cried before. I didn’t understand why he was breaking up with me.
He asked for some space to think about the relationship, and I respected his wishes and let him be. I tried to pray every day, and my mom also picked out a helpful hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal each morning for me to look at. But I felt like nothing was helping. A couple of weeks later, we broke up for good.
I didn’t understand what had happened or how to move on.
For a while, it seemed like I was doing OK with things, thanks to the support of my friends. But then I started crying again every day because I didn’t understand what had happened or how to move on. I just wanted it all to stop. All of the crying, all of the confusion. I decided it was a good time to go see the teacher of my Bible class at the school I attend for Christian Scientists. After class one day, I explained the whole story. When I finished, he asked, “Do you know Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of Gethsemane?”
I looked at him with tears in my eyes and shook my head. He handed me a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which he’d opened to page 586, and I read aloud: “GETHSEMANE. Patient woe; the human yielding to the divine; love meeting no response, but still remaining love.” This definition brings a spiritual perspective to the garden of Gethsemane, where, on the night before the crucifixion, Jesus prayed—completely alone—after his disciples forsook him by falling asleep.
After I read the definition, my teacher said: “This is your Gethsemane. You may feel like you put your whole heart into this relationship and it is being torn down, but you can still continue to love.”
Even though I knew my experience was nothing like what Jesus went through, my tears dried up as the spiritual meaning of Gethsemane sank in. I realized I didn’t need to be in a relationship with my ex-boyfriend to love him. I could love him spiritually and see him that way—as the perfect child of God that he is. And I could see myself that way, too, and express that. I shouldn’t be turning to hate and speaking poorly of him. This was an opportunity to love—no matter what.
Later that day, my teacher sent me a note with another thought from Science and Health: “Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven” (p. 57).
The more I read that passage, the more I came to see that even when things appear to be breaking down, Love, meaning God, is always comforting me. I saw that I couldn’t be hurt by the breakup, but my heart could actually be moved toward a feeling of “heaven,” or peace.
Over the next few weeks, I could feel that my thoughts were in a completely different place. I realized that the relationship did not have to end with me hating him; I reflected God’s love and nothing could stop me from expressing it.
Recently, I took a trip to Israel with a group of classmates, including my ex-boyfriend. We visited the actual garden of Gethsemane one day, and that night, the two of us talked and cleared everything up. We are good friends now, and I’m so grateful for all this healing taught me about how to love.
Originally appeared online in the teen series: Your Healings - March 30, 2017
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