Originally appeared here at Relevant Magazine
by Stephanie Wisner on Tuesday, October 17th 2017


I was supposed to get married. I had a dress, a venue and a diamond ring. I had hopes for the future. I felt as though everything in my life was coming together the way it should, the way I planned.

A broken engagement did not fit into that storyline.

Much like the loss associated with a death, a broken engagement is also a loss. Regardless of circumstance, everything about that sort of loss feels wrong to the experiencer, felt wrong to me.

Surprisingly, others seemed to recognize this loss as “wrong” too. It was as if unanimously, people believed that heartbreak is not “supposed” to be experienced, that engagements are not “meant” to be broken.

There is truth to this. Not that engagements should never be ended, but that in God’s plan for a perfect world—for perfect love—He did not intend for them to be. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world.

In the immediate weeks after my engagement ended, the broken dreams and broken promises and the “should-have-beens” and “what-ifs” overwhelmed me. I dropped 20 pounds in 10 days and passed the hours feeling as though my lungs were slowly collapsing, leaving me perpetually breathless. My sadness was palpable. It lingered on my person like an unshakable perfume, a cloying essence that caused strangers to double-take as they passed.

I responded to my own grief in the only way I knew how: I pored through the Bible. “My soul is in deep anguish,” I read in the psalms. And I understood.

The words in the psalms did not stop short at simply relating to my pain, but offered a lifeline of promises through which I found the way to move forward. Further, I found that these promises were actually part of one overarching promise: God’s vow to preserve and redeem (ethnic) Israel throughout time. So when I received the opportunity to travel to Israel through Passages, it was like the answer to a prayer I hadn’t known I had made and I took it.

By the time of the trip, my grief-crawl had become a steady walk. But as I traveled to the airport, alone on the New York City Subway, I became suddenly terrified that perhaps this would change in Israel—that perhaps my lungs would begin to collapse again as I was alone amongst strangers.



More about PASSAGES.