Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday | Break-Ups: They Don't Break You



It's been quite a while since I've talked about my history and shared my heart on the topic of break-ups. You know I talk a lot about being single. But see, I also know what it’s like to almost get married. Yah, I know, crazy, huh? Me almost getting married. But I bring that up because I know what it's like to go through a serious break-up and trust me, they're not romantic like they look in books and movies.

As you can imagine, that ended relationship four years ago did not fit in with my life plan. I was that girl who grew up idealistic, staunchly believing in fairy-tales (still sorta-maybe do) and the formula that says if you do it all right it'll always work out the first time. I read the books, got the counsel and heard the sermons on purity, both physical and emotional purity. The one that says be careful where you give you heart, because you'll never ever fully get it back. I soaked up, believed in and then turned around and taught that analogy often used when talking about relationships - where our heart is like a gift-wrapped package and every time we give away our heart to the wrong person, it's like putting a tear in the present's wrapping paper, leaving us with less and less to give to our future husband.

But on this side of happily-never-after and a whole lot of time to re-think a lot of my idealistic beliefs, I want to just say how misguiding this sort of teaching can be. It originates in truth (please note that there's still value to be found in it!), and protecting our hearts is something to definitely strive for, because the heart does get hurt and hurt does alter the heart.

But where this teaching starts going wrong is the implications that if your relationship fails, you're now just damaged goods, someone who now has only broken pieces left. Believing that the heart is like an unwrapped gift, once-given-never-fully-gotten-back, is a breeding ground for crippling shame for those of us who have to experience failed relationships. 

I’ve found myself in that place where I was left holding just empty, broken dreams and nursing an overflowing, hurting heart. In those months and years following that very serious break-up, I felt broken and ugly, damaged. I believed that because I’d given my heart away so fully (only a few months away from the big I Do's), that I had less to give to the right guy.  I was a less-than forever. I felt so much shame and regret and it was a heavy burden to bear. And trust me, the last thing someone who's reeling with the anguish, confusion and chaos of a broken heart needs is the shame that they can never be "whole" again.

But I know differently now and it breaks my heart that such a well-meant message can go so wrong. Yes, it’s best to guard your heart and keep it safe…but if you give it and then that love ends, you’re not irreparable. Because guess what, there is a God and He can fix anything. Have we forgotten just who God is?? He's our great Jehovah Rapha, our Healer. He heals the heart and when He heals, He makes new again.

Break-ups are never marks against us in God's eyes. A child of the Almighty God is never less than anybody else. Never ever are they "damaged goods," irreparably broken or deficient in any way. Life happens, break-ups happen. But we are His children, a holy nation, His own special people, whom He guards over, protects and always completes. Besides, our hearts aren't made of glass, unable to be fixed when broken. Break-ups may leave us with some scars, but when have scars been bad? Scars show where there has been healing.

And speaking from personal experience, the things I've learned through my break-ups have crafted me so much more into a woman better suited for marriage. It redefined my faith, re-shaped my character, forced me to see so much immaturity in my life, drew back the veil on a lot of ugly in my heart and build up in me a force of strength that before I never had. I'm no longer ashamed of my past broken hearts nor do I regret the failed relationship. I'm a stronger, better woman because of it.

See, break-ups don’t leave you with less to offer. They leave you with more to give.

43 comments:

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! Know you've been there, too. :)

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    2. yup! Kinda wish I had been better friends with you now so you could have helped me get through it :)
      Btw, so proud to be the first commenter for once! :D :D :D

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    3. Haha, way to beat the "crowds." Not that there are crowds, but hey, figure of speech. :)

      Well, perhaps we were buds during that time, but at last we're "old and single" buds now, eh? ;)

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  2. Kellie, this is so, so good. I agree with you completely! I haven't experienced a break-up (kinda hard, you know, when I've never found that elusive boyfriend figure *ahem*), but like you, I've read allll the books on dating and purity and courtship, and the thought of ruined-forever pieces heart floating around - just because a "courtship" didn't happen to work out - has never sounded right to me. Hearing about how God has used this incredible pain in your life for your good is awesome. That is what the Gospel is all about - Jesus' rescuing and redeeming work among a completely dead and broken people. Of course He can heal our hearts!

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    1. So glad that you were able to see this error right from the get-go, Taylor! I wish that I had.

      Even now I sometimes still grapple with the misplaced "shame" of having a very broken relationship in my past, because yes, there ARE a lot of scars and even now, for years later, there are times when I get these flash-back pains and it hurts for a few minutes all over again. And my first reaction when that happens (and it's normal for that to happen!) is to feel like I'll never actually be completely whole again. And I think of how broke my heart was and how sometimes I still feel that phantom pain...and I find myself feeling broken in that I'll-never-have-it-back way. It was one of those heart-burn moments that prompted me to write this post, because I had to remind myself about God's redemption and the fact that His children are NEVER broken. God's a God of new life, second chances and soar-on-wings-like-eagles lives. Not of people who "failed" to live up to an ideal and when they blew it, oh well, they're stuck with that forever.

      Nope, that's not my God. And I get frustrated when I hear that very common (and well-meant) message of "save it 'cuz you can't get it back," because that's completely overlooking what God does for us. I mean, He turned our hearts from black to white with salvation, He does SO many HUGE powerful things, He gives us hearts of flesh instead of stone, renews our minds, gives us strength for every trial, comfort for every sorrow....and we think that just because our heart breaks for a little while, that somehow that means we're stuck like that. It's actually almost humorous when I think about it. But no, it's not funny, because that kind of thinking is very, very damaging to a person. Like, literally, it changes they way they act and who they are if they believe that they're "damaged goods."

      Anyways...haha, all that to say...thanks for your response! ;)

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  3. Speaking as one who was once so paralyzed at the thought of a failed relationship that I sat on my hands and did nothing, I now firmly believe that the prospect of "failure" shouldn't play the slightest role in whether to pursue a relationship.

    Thomas Edison is reported to have said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." A so-called "failed" relationship isn't a failure at all; it means you've succeeded at getting one step closer to finding your spouse by eliminating one possible match. :-)

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    1. Very good points, as always. This feels slightly like déjà vu, as we've discussed this one before. ;) It's a really valid point, though - fear of failure does often keep us from advancing, keeping is crippled either in fear of the possible future or regret in the past.

      And exactly, I don't actually believe there is such thing as a "failed" relationship, perhaps the better word usage for me would have been "ended relationship."

      And for the record, the whole teaching talked about above (the one I disagree with) is a popular one and very often taught. Watch out for it when B, D & J get into high school. ;)

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  4. This is so good, Kellie. I've read all of those type of books too, and it has taken me a while to figure out that not everything in them is true or even right. It is so true that our Father heals us and makes us stronger through our troubles. Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging!

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    1. Isn't it kinda crazy how the older we get the more we realize how those hard-and-true philosophies that we believed in growing up...actually often have so many errors to them? Especially for those of us who have grown up in more of a "conservative" mindset. There are SO many perfect ideals taught to us that we feel we HAVE to uphold or we'll be "failing" Christ and ruining our track record as "good Christians." When in actuality, they are just that...ideals, the perfect picture of success. Without the disclaimer that nobody is perfect,we live in a fallen world and even MORE important, the Lord has come to take care of all the imperfections and we live in victory already.

      Thanks for the response, Natasha!

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    2. Yup, yup, yup. So true. :)

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  5. "Scars show where there has been healing."

    Ah, what beautiful words that I needed to hear!

    I'm not kidding when I say this post almost brought me to tears. Although I haven't experienced the same struggles, I have gained many a scar that God has sewn back up for me. Just in the past couple of years I've learned that it is these scars that reshape and redefine us as you said. They make us grow and we become all the better. I'm learning the more scars a person has the more beautiful they are.

    Thank God for His beautiful healing!

    And thank YOU for this post. I honestly cannot even find the right words for how it touched me.

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    1. Ah, Lauri, I'm so so glad! And you're reply is so beautiful, too, it shows the love you have for the Lord and your joy even in the midst of really hard stuff.

      Scars are hard things, because we'll forget about them for awhile but then something will happen and we remember them. And we remember how they hurt and we feel that phantom ache a bit. But that's one of the things that I've truly fallen in love with the Lord over - that it's those soft moments of pain that He wants us to come to Him and let Him take care of it.

      And yes, amen, thank God for His healing!

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  6. God is using your life to minister in ways I'm sure you never imagined. I'm proud of you for allowing God to use you like He has and continues to do. I know it's been incredibly hard but you're right, you are not 'damaged goods', you're precious and valuable and cherished. Not only by Jesus, but me as well ;) Once again you've spoken truth in a clear, relatable, poetic way.

    Oh and can you give me blog design lessons? Yours is so professional looking! I love it!

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    1. Thank God for that, Brea! I'd never have chosen to have experience dealing with break-ups, but on this side, I'm so glad the Lord has allowed it in my life, because it's an area where not many people realize that there is even a need.

      Oh goodness, I'm just a novice at blog design! It's really just trial and error and inspiration from other bloggers. And a whole lot of enjoyment out of it. :)

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  7. Love this post! This is something that has been more on my mind lately, especially getting older (mid-20s) and seeing all your friends get married. Although I've never been in a relationship, knowing how to guard your heart before you enter into one is important. I've known friends who have been through tough breakups and it is easy to fall into that mindset that you're "damaged" when that just ISN'T true! Thank you for writing this post and saying it out loud! :)

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    1. Glad that this was encouraging to you, Jess! Being careful with our hearts is important. No relationship is risk free, however, even friendships aren't fool-proof, and getting hurt is always a risk. But hiding from getting hurt is never the way the Lord would have us live our lives. And our hearts are made of sterner stuff than we give them credit for! And having a sad ending to a relationship is pretty brutal, but even in that, our value and worth isn't decreased at all. I personally believes it grows. :)

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  8. From one former had-it-all-down, emotional-purity-freak, actually-had-a-breakup girl to another...

    THANK YOU.

    Thank you for sharing the pain and the regrets and being transparent. Gosh, I wish someone had written that when I was young (although I was so high-and-mighty-knew-everything that I probably wouldn't have listened). People sometimes don't understand how years later something can still hurt so bad. It's tough for me sometimes to keep from getting frustrated at people when they're shocked that there are times when I am still very hurt, upset, and plain ol' angry about my broken relationship. But I am...and I also don't regret that it happened. There was no other way I would have been willing to examine all those lovely ideals, no other way for me to see them all crumble under the pressure of reality. Beyond personal growth, it has given me such a burden to keep younger sisters in Christ from falling into the snares of a "perfect relationship", with such rigid rules you can barely breathe, that stifles the budding, natural life that's beginning. So I don't regret that at all, no matter how hurting it left me.

    (Of course, I didn't have emotional attachments, so my hurt is more from deceit on the "other side's" part and circumstances that blew up in my face. But I still understand *how* it can hurt for so long.)

    Thank you so much again, Kellie. Your posts are always such a blessing. Love ya!

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    1. You know, that is so immensely encouraging to me, knowing that I'm not the only one who, years later, still have those "phantom pains" in my heart. :)

      Same here, girl, same here. I'm SO grateful that I went through such a long, agonizing time after my relationship (practically engagement) ended, because wow, the woman I am today is so different than the naive girl I was back then. It really was THE making of me! Praise God for seriously working things out for good, right? :D

      And yes, I'm right there with you - I now have such a passion for relationships, the ones that are still working and especially the ones that have ended. Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. And I look at the experience now as my "gift," you know, like it says in 1 Cor. 1:14 that He comforts us in our afflictions so that WE can then comfort others. So, it's definitely become my passion!

      Thank you for your comments, I always look forward to your responses to my singleness/relationship posts, because I know you've been on a similar track as me! :)

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  9. I completely agree with you that those teaching about purity can become unhelpful and even hurtful, after a certain point. I actually wrote an article for QUITE Magazine about my thoughts and experience with that teaching--I also grew up being taught about not giving your heart away and I followed the rules of courtship and I married my first boyfriend--but he didn't have the same background as me--everything I had been taught seemed to tell me, "He doesn't love you if he didn't wait for you" but I couldn't quite believe that was the right way to think. Here's the link to the article: http://quitemagazine.com/2013/04/08/what-if-true-love-didnt-wait-for-you/

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    1. Wow, Rachel! You said it SO well!! Exactly what I've been thinking and feeling - just like you said, there's so much emphasis on purity and doing it right, that's there's no room left for forgiveness. And that's what God is all about - forgiving us our sins. Yes, purity is important, God does have specifically high standards for physical and emotional purity and He does want us to live by them, but I know that His capacity to forgive fully and completely is even GREATER.

      In the church, God is becoming more like a God of rules than a God who extends unconditional love, full forgiveness and a clean slate that white as snow!

      Granted...I will say, as this has also come up lately...we can also put TOO much emphasis on the forgiveness part and find "freedom" in that grace to give our bodies away if we feel like it or be foolish with our (or someone else's!) heart. I've heard this philosophy lately and it's broken my heart. Yes, God's forgiveness is HUGE, but just because He can forgive anything doesn't give us the freedom to ignore what He has commanded us to do. Which is what a lot of people are forgetting these days. God is Grace, but He's also Justice and Righteousness.

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    2. That is an awesome article Rachel!! Thank you! Saved it for future conversations and shared it with my girl friends.

      Iris♥

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    3. It really WAS such a good one, Iris!

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  10. Loving this post!! Nothing worse than a breakup, that is for sure. But we serve an amazing God. One who trades ashes in for beauty--one who can (and will) do wonderful things from awful circumstances. I had one big breakup, it is honestly the worst feeling and your heart is never the same again...but would I take back that time? Nope. I learned so much from that breakup, so much about who I was--and what I deserved. God taught me to invest in Him and to give Him my whole heart... I love the truth in this post because it's so relatable, I still have little twinges of pain from that breakup long ago...but am I damaged goods? No way... God uses those painful moments to relate to others, to remind me of who He is, and His power. And girl, no matter how many heartbreaks you go through (not anymore I hope!!) keep believing in fairytales because you deserve it!

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    1. Does it sound strange if I just go on record and say how RELIEVED it makes me feel to hear how you, a happily-married-and-in-love-with-her-husband woman, still have those twinges of pain over the past? Well, it does. Because I know that, should I ever get married, I'll still have those moments (brief as they are) of "phantom pains." And just like it's okay to have them now, it's still okay when you're married, too.

      Thanks, Angela! And girl, you bet I'll hold onto my fairy-tales. Somebody has to. ;)

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  11. Um, first of all, that's a pretty photo of you, friend! When are we going to take photos together?

    Secondly, this was a really interesting post for me to read. As someone who has always been single, it was a good reminder for me to remind these things to my friends and loved ones who have gone through break-ups in relationships. And I agree with you, break-ups don't leave you with less to offer. They definitely leave you with more to give. More knowledge, more love for others, and a better understanding of what relationships are and are not--even if that's something that we can't necessarily see during that period in our lives!

    Loving these relationship/singleness posts, girl! I think you've found your niche in the blogging world. :)

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    1. It's so true, Kiki, and every time you have the chance to tell another girl, especially younger girls...tell them! My passion in life is for those two things that nobody ever really thinks about: singleness and break-ups. Whereas we mightfind books and worthwhile articles on singleness, never ever in all my life have I seen anything that offers help, comfort, truth and guidance to someone who's reeling from a breakup. And when I say breakup, I mean a serious breakup, not a silly highschool drama-case breakup. Not even in the same league. :D

      So, here's me and my little voice saying it like it is. :D Thanks for that encouragement, Kiki! I hope people don't get board ("oh, there goes Kellie, talking about relationships again") with it, since it really is my passion. :)

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  12. Oh dear Kellie, I don't even know what to say in response to this... BRAVO BRAVO for saying this! Thanks for being so open and sharing your own (painful) experience. It makes me happy that God protected my heart and I never went through a break up, but I've always felt a little... I don't know, I guess not fully agreeing with the idea that if I give a piece of my heart to a guy and he leaves, I'm left somewhat empty, like you said. I also agree we SHOULD protect our hearts as we can (God says is our lovely treasure), but like you said so perfectly, these things happen, and since we have a God who heals and mends brokenness, He restores us and we ain't no broken piece for Him!! :)) He makes us whole, amen! :) I do hope and pray I never go through a break up (specially one like yours...) BUT, even if I do, with all honesty, after reading your post I feel more encouraged than never that I won't be "emptier" after one, but closer to being a better wife because of it. I always felt "scared" of breaking up because of that whole idea of a "less-than-perfect-gift-to-my-husband-one-day", but you are sooo right! This: break-ups don’t leave you with less to offer. They leave you with more to give - so true. Thanks for sharing and for the encouragement you gave me :) I pray that God will bless you in this area of your life, and one day, you'll have A LOT to give to that special man. ;)
    xoxo
    - Gabi

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    1. Gabi, I'm so glad that you can find encouragement from this post! As someone who's had to deal with the aftermath of a "happily never after," it's really my passion to see some of the misguided teachings corrected and even just the reality of how to heal from it put out there as more of a resource. The heart is tough, but it can hurt very badly and takes time to heal.

      It's a blessing, Gabi, that you've never had to go through a breakup before and hopefully that won't ever be in your future. But even if it should ever be, we know that God heals and we're never an imperfect package! God is big that way, He doesn't leave us deficient in any way. He's give us all things. :)

      Thank you for taking the time to write out this response, it REALLY encourages me so much to hear everyone's response to this and it encourages me that truth is prevailing. :)

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  13. Lovely post, Kellie! I haven't ever been in that kind of situation (perpetually single gal here!), but this post was still able to offer so much encouragement to me. It's funny how, though I'm still a complete romantic, the older I get, the more realistic my ideas of love and marriage become, and the more I realize that my fairytale ideals are mostly all fiction. Which is surprisingly ok with me at the moment.(:

    ~Vicki
    Decked Out in Ruffles

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    1. Yes, yes! Fairy-tales turn into fiction...lovely phraseology! But very true, too! Part of me is sad that those happy ideals will never actually turn into reality, but the older I get, the more I also relish the firmer grip on "what's real" that I'm getting.

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  14. Beautiful post, Kellie. I think in the last year your writing has really opened up and shown the vulnerable side of your heart. It's beautiful, and I know you are touching peoples lives -- because you have definitely touched mine! Keep up the beautiful writing. I wish I could keep up better but I don't have internet access at my apartment!

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    1. Hey, Micah!! So excited to see you on here again! Totally understand about the internet thing, no worries, although I do miss you on here! But ya know...life and love calls. ;)

      All I can say is praise God that the things I have to say can impact others! I only have stuff to say because He's be faithful to teach me, mostly through my own sorry mistakes!

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  15. Hello!! After a long trail from Brooklyn at This Little Blonde's linkup today, I found your blog and I love this post. I made a post similar to this involving Carrie Underwood's song "Good in Goodbye," and I completely agree. Breakups don't leave you empty, or lonely, or worthless, or anything... they make you stronger. Goodbye's mean something else greater may be coming. Goodbye's give us hope for that light, that sunshine, that happiness that we so desperately seek.

    Blah, idk, I'll leave the link to it because I just LOVE the idea of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Heartbreaks are NEVER going to kill us, and even though I'm married now, I still relate to this with some past relationships I went through.

    Anyway, hi, you don't know me but I'm Ashley from over at From A to Z. I'm excited to start following your blog!!

    (Here's the link to my similar post: http://aslctemplelover.blogspot.com/2012/05/good-in-goodbye.html)

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    1. Hi, Ashley!! Thank you for taking the time to leave such a long comment, it really means so much to me when people open up and actually converse with me!

      So true - the hard stuff DOES make us stronger, when we find that new strength in Christ! I can so personally attest to that, because I am so much stronger now because of the hard stuff I've experienced.

      I'll have to check out your post! Thanks for leaving the link!

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  16. Awesome!! Thank you for sharing your heart. You are right, as much as that ideology is true...it is very hurtful when a relationship does end. Patrick went through the same thing and people rubbed it in his face that they married the first one they loved....teasing him for liking not being able to settle with one girl. Patrick is now much more mature and a more thoughtful boyfriend then he would have been and appreciates our love so much more. ☺

    I am going to share this post with a young lady who loves studying everything about relationships...so she can also see the other side of the ideology. ☺

    ~Hugs~
    Iris♥
    Iris

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    1. People, even in the midst of trying to tease, can so unwittingly be hurtful, as it sounds like Patrick's friends perhaps were. At least now he has you!! :D

      Please, share away! I'm so honored and blessed.

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  17. I love your perspective on this, Kellie, and I'm so glad that you pointed out that people are not damaged goods for giving their hearts away and it not turning out as planned. And perhaps it's in that openness and then brokenness that necessary lessons are learned and a way is prepared for something even better. I think I read somewhere that if one opportunity doesn't work out, it just means something better is coming along.

    I think this philosophy can be applied to more than just dating, too. I think I feel this way about my career and about work. I had the dream job that I thought I'd have forever, the job that everyone wanted. But it wasn't right for me. I held on for too long and by the time I walked away, I felt like a failure. It took me years to realize I wasn't broken or there wasn't something inherently wrong with me and that it was a lesson I was meant to learn, not something I should go on regretting forever. I finally was able to let go of the pain I had been replaying over and over again. Now I can finally look at it and see some good in it. It's not all bad... and that process has brought me closer than I ever have been to God, weirdly enough. :) And isn't that what this is all for anyway? To move us closer to God and the experience of him... of love?

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    1. Amen, Erika!! The point IS to move us closer to the Lord! So perfectly spoken. And I like what you say about this applying to so many other aspects of life, too, not just failed relationships. Good stuff.

      I have come to see that even though I'm pretty sure break-ups are a curse of the Fall, that even in this, it's another situation of what Satan meant for evil, God has made into good. And in a single's life, it's a great way to grow us closer to Him. :)

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  18. Such great truth behind this. Thank you for sharing your beautiful insight!

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Oooh, you're about to comment! How exciting! Know that you are SO MUCH MORE than just a name and a comment to me - you're a person I'd like to get to know! Make sure you check back, as I reply to each comment. I love getting to talk/correspond with each of you!