Breakups are never easy. Breaking up during a global pandemic, social distancing, and heightened tensions as people around the world battle for justice – well, that adds a whole other level of emotions to navigate.
I had been doing long-distance when my relationship came to an end. When I hung up the call, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to him — I was saying goodbye to our plans, what I thought would be my future and my access to the “outside” world. What I had to say hello to was isolation, an unknown future, and a life with painfully few distractions.
With everything going on in the world, I found myself living between two extremes of self-pity and guilt. Self-pity, because I was hurting and feeling isolated and alone. Guilty, because I was sitting in my heartache while the world around me was crying out in agony. After all, compared to those experiencing sickness, grieving deaths of loved ones, or deeply agonized and hurting from years of systemic oppression and injustice, my breakup seemed significantly inconsequential. Yet, nonetheless, the sting of it was so very real.
It has been a difficult time to navigate, however, one thing I’ve held onto is knowing that God sees my hurt and the hurt in this world, and he longs to bring healing and restoration to both. This breakup has been painful, and at times, almost unbearable. I have longed to be able to bury myself in distractions that aren’t possible at this time. I have wished to just fast-forward through this pandemic and my hurt and wake up to a world that was normal, with a heart that was whole. But I can’t will my reality away, and so in the tension of my pain, I came to a realization: what if this is exactly where God wants me to be? What if there are lessons He has been longing to teach me that only now, in the silence, I am able to hear? What if there are actions He has been urging me to take that I have been too preoccupied to do?
As I’ve opened myself up to digging into these questions, I have learned some valuable lessons. I don’t know your journey and I don’t have all of the answers. I am just an individual navigating hurt, guilt, and healing alongside a good and faithful God, but perhaps my journey can help you with yours.
Accept and Release
Accepting a breakup can be difficult. Regardless of whether you’ve been dating for three months or three years, chances are, this person has become a large part of your life and not having them around can be hard to accept. Maybe you know that the breakup was the right decision, or maybe you’re holding onto hope that one day you’ll get back together. Regardless of your position, in order to navigate your hurt and find healing in this season, it’s important to accept the breakup for what it is and release it to God, trusting that He has a good plan for your life.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
– Jeremiah 39:11
Embrace the Pain
Maybe you’re feeling like there are “bigger” issues in the world right now compared to your breakup and are feeling guilty about sitting in your pain. If this is the case, it’s important to recognize that although not all pain is equal in measure, yours is still true, valid, and incredibly real. Giving yourself permission to hurt, allows you space to heal.
Or perhaps you’re someone who has been trying to avoid feeling the pain at all costs. We often do this by suppressing it, numbing it, or distracting ourselves and pretending it’s not there. Given the world’s circumstances, this is harder to do, and as uncomfortable as it is, that’s probably a good thing. It seems counterintuitive to embrace pain in order to stop hurting, but healing requires walking through the hurt and heartache – and allowing ourselves to grieve is an essential part of the process. So, if you’ve been holding back those tears, just let them flow. It will be OK, I promise.
Another aspect of embracing the pain is accepting that healing is not a linear process. Some days will be hard, others easier. That’s completely normal. When things feel too hard to handle, having a go-to verse or a prayer that helps you refocus your heart and surrender your hurt to God is an indispensable tool. Mine has been Psalm 34:18 which says, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. It’s an uphill battle, but you’re not alone on this healing journey.
Nurture: Body, Mind, and Spirit
The activities we do, the inputs we receive, and the thoughts we dwell in can be a hindrance or an asset to our healing process. Choose activities and inputs that are life-giving and nurture your body, mind, and spirit.
- Immerse yourself with truth. Listen to sermons, worship music and podcasts that inspire you. Spend time in prayer, study your Bible, do a virtual devotional with a friend and read books that bring insight and value to your life.
- Reflect. If there was ever a good time for reflection, it’s now. Spend time journaling and in prayerful reflection. Use the silence to evaluate your life. Ask, is the person staring back at you in the mirror the person God created you to be? Did you lose a part of yourself in your relationship? Have you been living out your fullest potential and calling? Have the choices you’ve been making been pushing you towards your calling or pulling you away from it? What actions can you take now to cultivate your gifts and talents?
- Invest in your relationships with family and friends. Pick up the phone and make some calls, or if you’re able to, go for a social distancing walk. “Surround” yourself with people who love and support you. We are made for community, and although this pandemic makes it hard, be creative in “spending time” with the people you love.
- Take care of your body. Exercise and healthy eating go a long way in how we feel about ourselves. Make intentional choices to give your body the love it deserves. Your gyms may be closed and spin classes canceled, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get moving. Whether it’s following along with an online workout, biking outside or going for a walk or run, find what works for you and give yourself an extra dose of endorphins.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
Seeking help does not mean that you are weak or that your faith is not strong enough. There are so many stress factors in our world at the moment and we are all processing them differently. It can be incredibly beneficial to invite someone along to walk with you through this painful season. Most counseling has been moved online right now so it is more accessible than ever, and there are options for all kinds of budgets.
Love Through Your Brokenness
You’re hurting right now, but the world is too. When we look at Christ, we see the perfect embodiment of what it looks like to love through pain. You’re probably experiencing pain right now because you loved, but ironically, through loving, you can also find relief.
We all have skill sets, passions, and giftings unique to us that we can use to help bring healing into the world and as a by-product, into our own hearts. I’d encourage you to be proactive and use this time to be Christ-like to the world around you. What’s your role right now? How can you partner with and serve others?
Educate yourself, get informed and know that even during a global pandemic there are many ways that you can contribute to lasting and impactful change.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. Don’t give yourself a timeline for healing or set expectations of where you think you should be emotionally. Our experiences are all unique and so are our journeys towards healing. There isn’t a step-by-step guide to healing where you check off a step and move to the next (trust me, I wish there were). Healing takes time, and although you might feel like you’re going in circles, you are moving forward. So be kind to yourself and trust God in the process.