Dealing With Break-Ups
If you’ve read my story, then you know that break-ups, and indeed, very tortuous break-ups have been a part of my life. In fact, not one, but two. I could easily have stopped with just one. Ok, bad joke...but truly, when I found myself for the second time holding onto the shattered pieces of my heart and watching the person I loved walk out of my life, I felt like I’d had all I could take.
The second break-up, which happened only about 6 months after the first one, was a situation I got myself into - by following after my own desires, not heading voices of counsel in my life, and pretty much refusing to really talk to God about it before jumping in. I was a girl on the rebound, and as most rebound-ees find, it only results in more heart-break. I can so quickly type down as to why I was not in a relationship that God wanted me in (the guy was a great guy, just not the great guy for me), but it’s took me a LONG time to come to realize those things. But at the time, my heart-break over losing someone I loved was compounding by losing two.
The night after my second sob-story, I felt so alone. I knew there were people like me, who had broken hearts instead of happily ever after; girls who’s knight in shining armor rode off into the sunset without them; women who felt so devastated when all their well-meaning ideals were suddenly proven false. But where were they? And now that we were alone in our grief - WHAT DO WE DO WITH A BROKEN HEART? That night, I began writing my heart, my questions, my griefs out onto the comforting screen of my prehistoric laptop, documenting in detail my journey towards healing - a healing that at the time, I honestly thought would never come to a heart as ripped up and soiled as mine.
Have you ever read any of those books written by happily married people telling about how they got together? They go through this wonderful story of love, maybe with a little bit of hardship and trial, but in the end they get married, honeymoon, and live on happily ever after.
Somewhere in the past decade or so, the “courtship” ideal has taken off and soared to great heights. Suddenly magazines and books began to hit the sales wracks at Christian book stores, filled with the sweet stories of two people’s love and how God brought them together. The stories usually go something like this:
Jill was a sweet young girl who truly loved the Lord and strove to follow Him with all of her heart. She was sold out to waiting for the right man that God had been custom making for her all of her life. Jill dreamed of getting married and raising a family to honor the Lord. But she knew that she wanted God to bring her husband to her. And that he would be worth waiting for.
Jack was a godly young man who also truly loved the Lord and strove to follow Him with all of his life. He knew he wanted to marry a women with the same ideals and visions as him. But as he looks at the eligible girls around him, he saw the tragic work the Enemy had done and saw absolutely no women who fit the standards of the Proverbs 31 women.
In the stories, the course of a few years goes by in just the space of a sentence or brief paragraph. Then suddenly one day, Jack and Jill meet. They are immediately attracted to the Lord in each other, and over time begin to develop a friendship. After they become best friends, Jack begins to seriously pray about whether God would have him pursue Jill. After some prayers which also only take up about a sentences worth of time, Jack asks Jill he can begin courting/dating her (whichever way you prefer to say it) and Jill is overwhelmed and humbled that God would bring such a godly young man into her life. They’re courtship lasts for a few months, where they experience such a sweet godly intimacy and bond. They get engaged, and walah! They get married. And they both say at the end “Oh it was worth the wait!”
This is a happy story. It makes my heart sing and my face smile. It makes me get excited about one day getting to have a similar story. I get all hyped up about the story God is planning for me and the waiting seems like a small sacrifice to pay for such a “happily ever after” story.
But wait. And just think about it. How many people can really say they’ve had a story like that? I KNOW there are people out there who can share of a story like this. But maybe not as many as we think. That isn’t my story.
All my life, I believed that the first man I ever was in a relationship with would be my husband. The first man who ever said “I love you” would say it to me for the rest of my life. In all the books and articles I had read about relationships (and I was an avid studier of the topic!), this was how it was always supposed to be, if you were a God-fearing follower of God, and ESPECIALLY if you embraced the “courtship” path - I do not say this to mock, not at all). And according to all the “steps” to a good relationship, my relationship should have turned out that way. But it didn’t. And when I was left grasping the pieces of a broken heart, I didn’t know where in the world to turn, who to talk to, where to go for help.
Whoa. You don’t see stories like THAT in the books and magazines! But in reality, stories like that are a lot more numerous than the happy ones. It seems like for every marriage, there are half a dozen broken hearts. Broken hearts within godly, Christ-centered people. I know so many of them. Where does that fit into the pages of the books written on waiting for love story God has prepared for you? We never hear of those stories. We only read the stories written by people who are happily married and SAFE from the drama and trauma of pre-marriage. Those stories are encouraging, but they only go so far. What about me? What about all of us who have been through break-ups?
If you’ve ever experienced a “failed” relationship, we’re in this together. Break ups happen. Gasp! Did I just say “break up?” In a lot of Christians circles where the happy courtship stories are so emphasized, break-ups are never mentioned and are somehow assumed to be a sign of some sin or “wrongness” hidden inside the person who experienced a break up.
There’s this ideal out there that says “wait for God, and He’ll bring you the right person on the first try.” Don’t get me wrong! God does bring people together right from the start and they have a God story to share with the rest of the world. And I LOVE stories like this! But in reality, it doesn’t always happen that way. I know a lot of people who have had false starts. I know a lot of people who have had to break up with the person they loved the most or have that person break up with them. I know of people, like myself, where God seemed to give an emphatic YES to the relationship, but then later on down the road, there was a NO to the relationship. Sometimes the break up is nasty and ugly and over something that was legitimate grounds for breaking up. But sometimes things just happen. Face it. Break-ups are a part of life. Break-ups happen.
I can’t pretend to understand all of this. I just know that there are a lot of “sadly ever afters” out there, with a lot of hurting hearts trailing behind. I’m not proud of falling into this category, I would do anything to not have breaks behind me. It’s hard for me knowing that I will never be able to have that fairy-tale first-romance marriage. But just because break-ups don’t mesh with the ideals of found in our “conservative” Christian circles, that doesn’t mean that we are failures or that we’ve disobeyed God, or that we are less of a person because we didn’t have that God-story we’ve always wanted and everyone talks about.
The fact is, there are love stories that end sour. And they hurt. They gouge out wounds in our hearts and minds that are so severe sometimes time doesn’t even heal them. Nobody wants to hear the break up stories, but frankly, they happen, they hurt, and they need healing. And when the only sympathy we find in our Christian literature is books and articles on “How My Love Story Was Perfect”, to those of us who have NOT had that story, it’s salt on a deep wound and sometimes a sense of shame on an already weary and broken heart.
Breakups are not ideal. But they happen to a lot of people. A lot more people than you think, because nobody wants to tell about the relationship that got away. Help and healing needs to be out there for the needy and hurting, and the happily ever after stories don’t cut it. They didn’t for me when I need help so badly.
I don’t have all the answers. But I know that us breakup-ees have a place in God’s eyes and that even tho our break ups don’t fit into the dream we’ve had all our lives, somehow it fits into God’s plan. There is something God has for us in this, and we need to find it.
Something that God has given me in the aftermath of break-ups and now as I've experienced healing (although I will always vividly remember the pain), is that I have such a passion and burden for girls and women who have gone through break-ups. All you have to say is "break-up" and my heart instantly goes out to you like a rocket at first launch. There's an instant bond and "connect" that I feel. I want to make a stab at taking what I’ve learned and reaching out to those girls and women who have endured break-ups and are now left holding the shattered pieces of their broken hearts. I’m not someone who is happily married or who has never experienced a break-up - I am still single and I have been through two break-ups. I speak as someone who really knows.
Maybe these posts are a rough-draft of a book someday, maybe it's me organizing my thoughts so I can have them ready to share at the right moments to the right person, maybe you reading this knows this pain right now or you know someone who does. Either way, my passion is to reach out to "those who are of a broken heart."
In the tidal-waves of the emotions and trauma, it’s hard to think straight. It’s almost impossible to know where to go next. I want you to know that it’s okay. I want you to know that you’re not feeling this alone. In following posts over the next few weeks, I want to share just the simple things that I’ve learned and am learning in retrospect. I hope that somehow God will use it to encourage you and help you through. Even tho you don’t feel right now that healing is possible, we have a God. We have our Jehovah Rapha, the God of Healing. And He’s all ours.