Help for a Broken Heart

I am not sure why I am writing, except that after reading your website and the loving responses I thought maybe this would be safe to cry for a moment.

I am a 40 year old priest, in a very small town in Mississippi, who just recently broke up with my lover of 11 years. The parting was smooth and fair without meanness. We had just grown apart.

As you might have guess I am in the closet and have no where to turn as my heart is broken as I feel all alone now. There is no one I can confide my feelings too without exposing myself and facing the loss of my priesthood. There is one young man in my parish who is gay and very out and knows about me. We have been close friends for about 2 years now. We share everything but I can’t talk about this as I really like him and it doesn’t seem right. He knows that I like him a lot and I think he knows I would like to pursue more with him. But ever since the breakup, he has avoided me. He won’t call or even go to coffee with me, he no longer stops after mass to chat. What have I done? Is God punishing me for my “divorce” or because I am gay and it is catching up after all these years? Can you help me understand this? I feel so full of guilt and shame, but more then anything I feel so alone.

Hurting and sad,

Dear Rob,

My heart goes out to you as in many ways I can relate strongly to your situation. I too have just ended a long term relationship (18 years) and have found that being single again is very difficult. I, too, had more than just a passing interest in a particular person whom I thought liked and cared for me.

It is anyone’s guess as to why he is avoiding you now that you are Single. People are very complicated and confusing at times. You say he is part of your parish. It is always difficult for a Pastor or leader of a group to have and maintain a healthy relationship with someone with whom they have a position of authority. Is it possible you have mistaken his response to you because he respects you and what you represent to him on a spiritual level? Now that you are single and he is aware of your interest in him, shall we say, romantically, he could be afraid of hurting you or disappointing you and doesn’t know how to say his interest is not the same as yours, hence he is avoiding you to keep from hurting you. Of course, that is only making things worse for you.

You have done nothing wrong and God is not punishing you. God gave us a free will and when it comes to relationships, sometimes they just don’t work out. When relationships don’t work out we go where we can get comfort and love so we don’t feel like failures. I believe it is called being “on the rebound”. It is in fact part of the grieving time for the loss of your relationship. Your experience in this is nothing new or odd but rather just part of the process of getting back on track with your life.

I would lovingly suggest to you dear child of God, that pursuing a romantic relationship with this person is probably not in your best interest or his. There is an attraction to him I would imagine because he has been a good and true friend. Let that continue, and allow yourself to continue to be his Priest — which in my humble opinion is more important. I give you this from my own experience that is recent enough that it still stings.

Yes, you will at times feel alone, but remember God will provide for you. Keep your mind focused on God and your eyes and ears open. Take each day as it comes and don’t worry.

So I say to you, Take no thought for your life, about food or drink, or about clothing for your body. Is not life more than food, and the body more than its clothing? See the birds of heaven; they do not put seeds in the earth, they do not get in grain, or put it in store-houses; and your Father in heaven gives them food. Are you not of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought is able to make himself a cubit taller? And why are you troubled about clothing? See the flowers of the field, how they come up; they do no work, they make no thread: But I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God gives such clothing to the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is put into the oven, will he not much more give you clothing, O you of little faith? Then do not be full of care, saying, What are we to have for food or drink? or, With what may we be clothed? Because the Gentiles go in search of all these things: for your Father in heaven has knowledge that you have need of all these things: But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition. — Matthew 6:25-33

Child of God, you have nothing to be ashamed of or guilty for. You are a child of God. In your pain, God is holding you in this moment. Feel that healing presence!

God Bless,
Pastor Paul