Cover image © Universal Pictures
Sometimes being in love is absolutely miserable. In fact, I’ve found that misery often comes hand in hand with love. That is why some of the most famous love stories are surrounded with the most terrible tragedy. A clear example is the classic story of Les Miserables, where Marius finally finds the love of his life, the perfect match to be his companion for the rest of his days, Cosette, much to the chagrin of Eponine, the girl next door with a crazy crush on the guy.
I had the not-so-unique experience of having the boy I was crushing on (and I had assumed was crushing on me) start dating my best friend. This was the first time this had ever happened to me, and I was unprepared for the onslaught of emotions I was about to experience. I understood that my feelings of jealousy were not very Christlike. I also knew that this was not how my
Heavenly Father wanted me to feel.
I want to share some of the things I learned from this experience and how I overcame the jealously, something that can be difficult. These are based on my personal experience, but I hope the tips here can be applied in a variety of relationships.
Here’s how to avoid being the Eponine in your relationships:
1. Don’t play the victim.
One of the reasons Eponine’s story is so tragic is that she played the victim. She immediately gave up and sang into the night that she’d never love again. She let her sorrow defeat her and she turned her own story into a tragedy. Don’t be Eponine! Your story doesn’t end here but will in fact never end. So choose to be happy. Choose to move on to greener pastures. As far as dating goes, the field is white, already to harvest. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and just think. Your future spouse is looking for you! You are going to be terribly hard to find if you are pining after your lost love or wasting away in your room. You can’t control what other people choose, but you have plenty of control over your actions and attitudes. Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown said it best when she said, “Do you want to be really brave? Have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.” I give the same advice to you. Don’t get bogged down by your own sad story. Make your own happy ending.
2. Your friendship truly isn’t worth it.
We all felt sorry for Eponine, and we wished that Marius would wake up and choose his best friend. But he didn’t. He chose Cosette. Whether I liked it or not, my crush chose my best friend, not me, but man or no man, she’s still the same wonderful person I love and admire. Keep your friend close, and let her know you’re there for her, even though every instinct screams at you to abandon her and never speak to her again. My friend and I have always said that we’d never let a man come between us. That became easier said than done when the real test came. I chose to stand by my friend and talk honestly with her about the situation. Our relationship has never been stronger and I am so grateful I did not estrange myself from such an amazing friend.
3. Forgive in order to forget.
Like Eponine, my first instinct was to mask my hurt by convincing myself that nothing was wrong, that I was the one who made the mistake. I thought the most Christlike thing to do was to roll over and pretend that nothing had happened. I had thought that by doing that, I had forgiven them, but I didn’t realize that I never acknowledged that I had actually been hurt. I never let myself believe that they had done anything wrong, instead, that it had been all my fault. But that was keeping me from really forgiving them. Only when I recognized all the bitterness I had for these two people could I frankly forgive them in my heart. Remember, Christ’s Atonement can overcome our jealousy just as readily as it can our anger or sins. Once we have recognized and repented for our feelings of jealousy, we can feel the healing power of the Atonement help us to forget and move on.
4. Charity is the best medicine.
When I am feeling down about anything, a quick evaluation of my thought process shows that I am almost 100% focused on myself. So, the best way to combat those feelings and to gain some relief is forgetting yourself and getting lost in some service. Eponine’s story actually gives us a great lesson about charity. Eponine gave her life for Marius, and as she spent the last few minutes of her life in his arms, she remarked on how she couldn’t feel any pain. The reason being was that she didn’t do it for herself, or to make Marius feel guilty. She did it out of pure love. While we don’t have to take a bullet for someone to show charity, there are a lot of things we can and should do. Magnify your callings, go to the temple, participate in organized service activities, and be looking for small and simple ways to serve others. Charity is a surefire way to overcome your jealousy and frustration.
5. Hope is the key!
The biggest thing that made people pity Eponine was the lack of hope in her situation. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t have her happily ever after! But the truth is, Eponine wasn’t showing any hope at all. To quote Preach My Gospel, “Hope is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm and patient perseverance.” Some were surprised to see me doing my best to manifest these attributes when I was a victim to, what I felt was, such injustice, but I knew I wasn’t the victim and I didn’t want to be the victim. All I wanted was to not feel so awful, and I knew I needed to fight my despair with hope. The pity of others will not get you through the heartache. What will get you through is the hope that comes through Christ. Have hope that the Lord has hand selected your trials to make you into the masterpiece you were destined to be. Have hope that your Heavenly Father has a wonderful life planned out for you, as long as you stay close to Him and follow His lead. Have hope that your love will come at last and that he/she will be worth the wait. So when the natural man seeks out pity, seek for hope.
6. Let your sadness work for you.
A few of you may be sitting back reading this article with a slight frown on your face. You may have thought, sure, this all sounds great in theory, but how do I get from being a brokenhearted, chocolate-consuming, Netflix addict to being myself again?
Use the Atonement. When your heartbreak feels the greatest, get on your knees and pour out your soul to your Father in Heaven. Let Him know EVERYTHING you’re feeling, and express your desire to learn from your situation. Ask, “Father, what would thou have me learn from my sorrow? What would thou have me change?” At the end of your prayer, and even during the prayer, pause and let Him speak to you. Give Him time to answer your questions. Listen. You’ll find yourself drawn to understand things such as patience, faith, and forgiveness in a way you’ve never understood them before.
After you finish your heartfelt prayer, or many heartfelt and sincere prayers, dig into the scriptures for the answers. That may seem a lot less appealing in the moment than drowning your sorrow in the latest TV series or ice cream, but it shows God that you want His advice and comfort more than that of the world’s. Getting lost in the scriptures allows us to see ourselves and our situations clearly. And who are we, really? We are powerful. We are spirit sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Or in other words, both you and your almost significant other is loved by your Father in Heaven. He can teach you how to love yourself and whoever it is that you need to forgive.
Remember: Patience is the key. The Lord sees fit to try both our patience and our faith (Mosiah 23:21). The healing process that you experience may be instantaneous, but I’ve found that it often requires time. To quote Elder Uchtdorf, “Patience is far more than simply waiting for something to happen–patience requires actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn’t appear instantly or without effort. Patience is a process of perfection.” So often, I learn much more in waiting upon the Lord than I do in the actual answer itself. Trust in Him and smile. You have the God that created the universe on your side.
As strange as it seems right now, you will one day see this heartbreak that you’re experiencing (or experienced) as one of the biggest blessings that God has given you. Why? Because if you use the Atonement to strengthen you now, it will allow you to become more empathetic, more faithful, more charitable, and kind. It will give you the opportunity to develop your relationship with your loving Heavenly Father. It will give you experience and wisdom, and it will become a way for you to become more converted and better in all aspects of your life. I’ve found that sorrow is necessary to expand your soul, giving more room for joy later. And the joy will come.
Of that I have no doubt.