7 Practical Ways of Dealing with a Breakup
I knew I had to end the relationship. I had shed more tears in two years than all 25 of my short life combined! Yet the breakup experience shot me off the ground!
We were both Christians who loved God, loved each other, and enjoyed serving in various ministries together. Yet, our relationship deeply troubled me. It felt like we were short-changing ourselves, most of the time. Perhaps it’s because, through counseling, I was learning that our relationship wasn’t a healthy one—it was both transactional and mechanical. Or maybe it’s because I was more aware of the emotional distance that was our norm, and I desired an emotionally healthy relationship? I can now confidently say that we were sick, and drastic changes had to be made. Turns out that what we needed wasn’t a dose of relationship antibiotics, but rather a radical amputation, or in other terms, a breakup!
The post-breakup whirlwind
I don’t think anyone prepares us for the emotional whirlwind that one faces post-breakup. I remember fear overwhelming me. “Had I done the right thing?” “What if God never brings along someone whom I will love?” “What if he was the best I ever had?”
Doubt gnawed at me. “Had I not prayed before saying yes to him?” “Aren’t Christians supposed to marry those they date?” “Isn’t recreational dating a sin?” “Hadn’t the Lord confirmed, through my friends, that this was the man I was to be married to?” “Was I wrong to get tired of forgiving and fighting?”
I wanted to go back; I tried going back to the inverted comfort of dysfunctionality. Straining to catch a glimpse of God’s goodness and faithfulness through an opaque glass of doubt, hurt, fear, and tears was futile.
As I look back at how I had to deal with the breakup and figure out a way forward, the following are nuggets that I hope a hurting heart will find helpful on the rocky road to recovery.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’d weep almost every single day at random times, the period after the relationship ended. I cried out to the Lord for a reprieve, begging for the pain to stop. Even though I knew that joy would eventually come, the ominous bank of dark clouds seemed unending. I felt forsaken, forgotten, and unloved.
Weary from moaning and flooding my pillow with tears, crying out with the Psalmists became my new regular,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
Searching through the Bible, I found verses that uplifted my crushed spirit. I discovered that God cares about our tears. He does not expect us to ‘dry them up’ when we experience loss, in this case, a breakup. Instead, he wept on two listed occasions (John 11:35; Luke 19:41-44), he stores our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), and he is close to the broken-hearted and those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
A breakup is a form of loss that requires grieving, and the natural outlet for most people’s hurt is crying! So weep! But weep well, as one with hope. Let the gospel minister to your heart as you cry, because it is your only hope through all the pains of this world.
I found great comfort in communing with God through prayer. Laying my heart bare with all its concerns, doubts, disappointments, fears, and the pain was comforting. I was not shy to mention my feelings to my heavenly father both in writing and in speaking. After all, one cannot deceive God, for he looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7).
At the onset, I prayed for reconciliation. However, as time passed, it continually dawned on me that I should focus my prayer on moving on, healing, and forgiveness (not only to forgive the ex-boyfriend but also to forgive myself since I’d blame myself for ending the relationship).
“There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all.”
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon
3. Find a Christ-preaching, God-glorifying church.
During my period of grief, I visited Emmanuel Baptist Church (EBC) and boy oh boy, were the sermons a balm to my broken heart! The continual reminders of God’s goodness amidst my pain, his mysterious ways of working things, his unmatched wisdom, his unsearchable judgments , and the inscrutability of his ways were soothing truths that filled me with hope! Oh, sweet hope!
The gospel-filled songs made me sincerely rejoice in the Lord, who sympathizes with our pain as he is no stranger to pain.
“Christ leads me through no darker rooms than he went through before.”
Gathering with the saints at EBC was a great mercy to my despairing heart. God mercifully and mightily used the saints, sermons, and songs to help me change my perspective on the breakup pain I was enduring. The reminder that it was but a tiny glimpse into Christ’s suffering when he laid down his life for the joy of redeeming for himself his people (Hebrews 12:2) made it more bearable!
4. Lean hard on friends
It sure does get lonely after a breakup. There are no more weekend dates, hour-long conversations on most nights, after-church hangouts, etc.
My friends and I battled my loneliness together. These are God-sent people who devoted their time and energy to embrace me, not only with their presence but also with words of encouragement.
Looking back, I will forever be grateful to these people who showed me what bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) means. The regular calls, texts, visits, impromptu out-of-town road trips… Forever etched on my heart with indelible ink, is their kindness.
“Pain is personal, and healing is corporate.”
It is crucial to have a community that will love you in this period, not only in word but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18).
God providentially designed the month of July 2018, to be one where I was free of the busyness of this life. In as much as I needed physical rest since grief is exhausting, I needed time to focus and rest on God’s promises.
Resting on God’s promises included devouring the Bible, Christian articles, vlogs, sermons, and books on heartbreak. Knowing that others before me had gone through similar ordeals, I was eager to glean through their godly lessons.
Strangely, it was comforting to read stories of fellow brethren who God had healed from breakups. Their stories encouraged me to keep trusting, praying, and banking on each day’s mercies.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I devoted every Friday to see my therapist. On some rare occasions, when I felt like the walls of despair were caving in, I would have spontaneous sessions with him.
In hindsight, having a Christian therapist walk me through my grief was God’s loving providence. Rather than only soothe me with God’s word, my therapist used God’s word as a double-edged sword; to encourage me significantly while letting me know of my sinful contributions to the breakup, which in turn led to repentance!
In totality, not only did I eventually overcome the loss, but I became a better Christian: one who is aware of their weaknesses and wounds and is prayerfully working on them.
7. Do the next thing
Do the next thing! It’s as simple as that!
Wake up, shower, have QT, go to work, meet friends, go back home, journal, weep, pray, sleep … Repeat! Slowly, the days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years.
One day you will look back and realize that God’s promises strengthened you to get through every single day and that it has gotten better. The pain is not as intense as it was in the first week/month(s). The memories have faded as you have made new ones. The gifts no longer have the same sentimental value. It will dawn that God is indeed good and faithful. That what he takes with the left hand, he gives with the right hand. That he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yes, the heartbreak happened yesterday, but the same unchanging Lord is with you today, and he is the fourth man standing with you in your furnace.
“The grace of God goes to work in the person who needs it.”
I remember battling, for the longest time, with the question ‘why’? “Why did the relationship have to end if we were both Christians?” “What was the point of its beginning if it was to end?” “We both invested ourselves in the relationship but to what end?” etc.
The answer was a simple divine assurance, “Trust me!”
I believe that my breakup experience was an irreplaceable medium that God used to refine me for himself. His love, even though I walked in the valleys of the shadows of death, never ceased to guide all matters of my life.
Beloved, if you are going through a breakup, trust your unknown to the one who knows it all. Doubt your doubts. Fight back your fears with God’s promises. Renew your mind daily with God’s word. Don’t bottle up your emotions, mention them as they are to God. Don’t waste your tears, pray them. Lastly, don’t forget to kiss the wave that throws you up against the Rock of Ages.
Remember, healing may not be in going back, but in becoming something new!