One of the fundamental qualities of human beings is that we were made to be with other people. That’s why we get so excited when a relationship becomes “official” or a couple gets engaged.
We were made to be in unity with each other, which makes the opposite reality even more potent. The end of a relationship, for better or for worse, stings because we know disunity is not how the world was meant to be.
Yet sin came in and made a gnarly mess of God’s design, so we find ourselves having to learn how to move on from no-longer-significant others.
First of all, let yourself cry. You need to let it out if anything else is going to be let in. Grieve, but don’t stay there.
“Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while so we can see life with a clearer view again.”-Alex Tan
It’s so easy to look at a relationship and just want only that and not what God has for you and what God desires for you.
His plan is so much greater and when He shifts you from what you think you need to what He has for you, it’s a beautiful journey of getting to Christ.
But it’s not going to be easy. There is a mountain range covered in a dense and foggy wood to trek through before you can stand free and clear on the final peak, so here are a few points to assist your journey.
#1 — Rest in the truths of who God is
Tim Keller once said that every Christian will come to a point in their life where they have to take the truths they know about God and decide whether or not they really believe them. Losing a relationship brought me to that point.
I was dying a little every day because I couldn’t understand why it had to happen, but I knew without a shadow of doubt that God would not allow it to happen if it were not for my good and ultimately for His glory.
My faith was not in question. Atheism was not an option, so I had no choice but to hold on to what I believe:
- God is good
- God loves me
- God is in control
Even though my relationship with Christ was very good beforehand, there’s something intimate about going through a situation you have no control over. No one will ever know the darkness I went through, but God was there. He saw my tears. He felt my pain.
While I can share my experience with others and we can encourage each other to grow closer to Christ, God is the only one who will walk through every moment of a situation with us and there’s something so beautiful about that.
“God always allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of His.”-C.S. Lewis
So rest in the truths of who He is. Remind yourself of them until they’ve become rote repetition and then meditate on them some more. Listen to songs that remind you of God’s trustworthy nature and journal when it feels the most real to you.
When the season of pushing through heartbreak is over, the mere mention of the Truths that were your companion in times of trouble will blanket you in comfort time and time again.
#2 — Focus on the ultimate goal
One of the primary ways to get through whatever kind of trial life throws at you is to focus on the end goal, to keep the bigger picture in mind, that God uses pain to grow and shape. There are so many analogies that illustrate this.
- Character is like a photograph, it develops in darkness
- When a tree goes through a storm, it takes deeper roots
- The best jewels come from the darkest mines
- Flowers grow through dirt
- The deepest seas harbor the best pearls
With the right response, pain develops character and maturity that couldn’t be gained otherwise. For me, this specifically looked like a bigger heart for people and refined focus on how to point them back to Christ. You can’t have a message without a mess.
It’s so easy to get tied up in your current situation and its confusing swell of emotions, but you must get your eyes out of that and focus on the long-term goal. It might not make sense now, but what is an entire hurricane in your mind is a raindrop inside of God’s palm.
While you might not be able to see anything outside of the pain of your heart, God sees the holistic picture not only of your life but of the lives of others and the history of the world.
He sees how you going through this will eventually allow you to speak into another person’s life, who will speak into another person’s life, who will speak into another person’s life, and have a ripple effect of benefit.
This isn’t just about you. You are not given another day because you need it, you are given another day because someone else needs you. And going through heartbreaking circumstances develops character that allows you to better reach other people.
#3 — Reconnect with your community
It’s easy to become absorbed in a significant other. Even if it’s not necessarily an idol, they’re still your person and you want to talk to them about certain things…which all too often leads to forgetting about other people.
“High school isn’t about finding your future husband, it’s about finding your bridesmaids.”-Tim Wadsworth
Sometimes you can have a fair balance of the person and the people, but it’s hard because you want to go to what’s invested in you and what you’ve invested in. However, when God strips away that said person, you have to reconnect with the people around you.
God blesses us with so many people, it’s just a matter of teaching ourselves how to get out of ourselves and be back in fellowship with the family He’s given us: witnessing to them, them to us, one-on-one meetings, group gatherings, all the things.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”-Anne Frank
There is so much more than just that one person. While individual relationships are often a means of grace to help us grow, God also uses them to teach us moral concepts and truths about Himself that are meant to be shared with a broader audience.
#4 — Learn & turn from your sin nature
One unforeseen repercussion of heartbreak was that I came face-to-face with my depravity, a sight so grotesquely dark that I high-tailed it in the opposite direction crying, “Dear God, don’t show me anymore!”
The thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors I found myself to possess were just a fraction of my sin nature and I was convinced—if I were to grasp the full weight that put Jesus on the cross—it would break me.
Then, it was how the darkness I found in myself starkly contrasted with Christ’s nature that made me fall in love and cling to Him all the more. That’s the silver lining of depravity: the more you realize how wicked you are, the more you see the glory of the Gospel.
Another piece was found one night when my mind was swelling with so many emotions I thought it might burst. I was in bed pulling at my hair, unable to grasp how I was able to contain so much confusion when another thought occurred to me:
God is more powerful than that. God is bigger than the raging sea that was hurling through my mind. And that brought in another sense of reality to the “God is good, God is love, God is powerful, God is in control” truths I was hanging on to.
“Though oceans roar, You are the Lord of all, the One who calms the wind and waves and makes my heart be still. Though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the sea, the nations rage, I know my God is in control.”-Shane & Shane, “Lord of Hosts”
While we may never know completely why something is happening, one thing we can be sure of is that trials reveal truths about God in ways we’ve never experienced before. So when you come across them, when God reveals them to you, you have to hold on.
#5 — Journal
Getting over the heartbreak a breakup can cause is not a one-and-done kind of process. It’s going to take time—weeks, months, maybe even years—so you need to come up and breathe, to have a means of encouragement when things get weary.
A big part of that is being able to look back at where you were and see where you are. In order to see that growth, however, in order to look back and reflect, you have to record your progress. You need to have some sort of documentation. Journaling is how I saw that.
“Day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.”-C.S. Lewis
I knew I was being broken for the sake of growth, but I didn’t feel like I was growing. I was in a cycle of depression and joy, an emotional rollercoaster that was absolutely exhausting, but I didn’t feel like I was growing.
Looking back at my journal entries now, I’m able to see that that’s not where my mind is anymore. I’ve grown, I’ve moved on, I have developed a better spine, more character, and maturity. But if I hadn’t have been journaling, I wouldn’t be able to see that.
For the worst of my heartbreak, I had so many thoughts wreaking havoc in my mind that I couldn’t focus, was always on the brink of tears, and often felt nauseous. But when I started writing, it was like everything began to play in slow motion.
Via handwriting, I was able to identify thoughts and realize that they were not as overwhelming as they initially seemed. The physical act of writing slowed my thoughts down so I wasn’t constantly flipping over myself.
While it’s encouraging to talk to people about what you’re going through, it’s a whole other level to slow down and write it out, and sometimes even write it as a prayer. Like, “God, take away this, work through this.”
#6 — Read/pray Psalms
Psalms wasn’t a book I read through until I was reflecting as the previous point allows and realized the words David used to describe the things he went through highly resembled the words in my journal entries.
Thanks to encouragement the way only God can send it, Psalms became one of my favorite books as I looked at the example of psalmists who were also struggling BUT were talking to God about their struggles.
“Faith does not always feel or sound spiritual. Sometimes it simply knows God is listening, even when it has nothing good to say.”–Peter Hubbard
God wants to be your best friend. He wants to be in a relationship with you, so talk to Him about what’s weighing on your heart. David did that. Whether he was happy, sad, bitter, anger, or bubbling with joy, he was telling God about it.
That koinonia, that relationship is what matters. God is after our hearts, so give yours to Him and then, further following David’s example, turn cries of anguish into shouts of praise. Learn more about defiant praise in this sermon.
While my heartbroken state wanted to cross its arms and make a firm case for no silver linings or benefits, I couldn’t deny how Scripture is suddenly more relatable than it was before. Now, what used to seem like a lengthy songbook has become a treasure.
#7 — Reflect on Christ’s unchanging presence
God wants to take all of our hurt, confusion, and even anger and love us regardless. This is especially in a breakup when you can feel trapped and alone, like you’re in a wind storm that is stripping away everything you once knew to be strong and true.
Yet through the wind, if you listen closely, you can hear a still small voice saying, “I’m still here. I’m still standing here right by you. I’ve been here the whole entire time.”
“When all around my soul gives way / He then is all my hope and stay”-Robert Critchley, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”
This reality was especially impressed upon me as I reflected on my life at large and realized—through every season, through every loss, through every single change—God has always been there and nothing about Him has changed.
Taking a step back to comprehend this bigger picture, to reflect on the mountains God has already helped you climb, will help put a breakup in perspective. Though you feel like you’ve lost this, God ________. Let that reality sink in:
God is still there. God has always been there, and He is closer to you than any human being will ever be.