I used to totally judge those people—you know, the ones who cope with a breakup by relating every life experience back to their recently disintegrated relationship, throwing themselves at the next available Christian they see, and to put it simply—hating life after breaking ties.
And yet, on more than one occasion, I’ve totally been that girl—the girl I absolutely never wanted to be post-breakup: inconsolably upset, irrational and desperate.
Through my breakups and relationship disappointments, I’ve learned there is a battle going on for our hearts. Our hurt can be an opportunity for doubts about God’s character to creep into our hearts and minds. We may start asking things like, “If God cares so much, why isn’t He giving me what I so desperately want? If God is really in control, then why did He let this happen?” Just like any sort of hurt or disappointment, a bad breakup can bait us into questioning God’s goodness.
That’s why there are a few things I would recommend not doing when specifically struggling with a breakup or relationship disappointment.
There are a multitude of good breakup songs, but trust me, singing/shouting at the top of your lungs “We are never EVER getting back together!” over and over again and then sobbing uncontrollably will only throw you further down into the black hole of self pity and despair. Maybe this is just a girl thing, but surely there is a male equivalent. Both genders—resist the urge to wallow in emo breakup ballads or just generally feeling sorry for yourself.
Don’t Facebook Vent
Social media is a quick and easy way to let the world know your status—emotional or otherwise, but hinting at your heartache, ranting about the opposite gender or passive-aggressively posting about how happy you are now that you’re single is all a recipe for disaster and regret.
It’s OK to step back from the screen, (in fact, I think it’s a huge sign of maturity) and journal it out via a medium you can later discard. Trust me, you’ll probably want to. As a side note, Facebook “checking in” on your ex is the same as Facebook stalking. Self-discipline to not see what they’ve been up to also helps speed up the moving on.
Don’t Numb Your Pain With Entertainment
So your relationship tanked—might as well find some hope in the latest season of your favorite show right? After all, it’s nice to know that it’s possible to find love and that some people in this world are happy.
Stop right there. While movies and shows obviously aren’t necessarily bad, it can be tempting to dive into a world of entertainment to numb your pain momentarily instead of actually dealing with your emotions. And, I’d just like to add that most films/books/tv shows are fiction, a.k.a, not true, a.k.a simply meant to entertain, and might only set you up for future disappointment when your next boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t measure up to your celeb ideal.
You don’t have to wallow, but you also shouldn’t pretend like nothing happened. Be honest with God and with close friends about how you feel, and don’t lose hope. As Paul writes in Romans,“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:3-5).
Don’t Find Solace in His or Her Flaws
Suddenly you can see all the ways he so was not the right one for you. I mean come on, she did dress terribly, never really treated you as well as you would have liked, wasn’t actually that spiritual in retrospect, and surely God has someone much more good-looking in store for you.
Yikes. Do you really feel better? Maybe temporarily, but even if your ex had some serious flaws you couldn’t see at the time, focusing on their shortcomings isn’t going to help you grow.
Don’t Stop Talking to God About What You’re Going Through
Be honest with God about your feelings. No need to sugarcoat, He knows your heart. As much as it hurts, keep reading the Word—not merely to find a quick remedy, but with a desire to know more about the Creator of the Universe, the lover of your soul.“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25).
The bad news: we are not strong enough to fight the battle for our hearts on our own. But, the good news is really good: we are not expected to fight the battle on our own. It is only with God’s strength that we can overcome, and through Christ who strengthens us, we can do all things. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is the most essential knowledge we can obtain. When the enemy of our souls tempts us to despair and consume us with earthly worries, we can slice through the lies of Satan with the sharpest sword of Truth: God’s Word.
Katie is the author of 22 & Single and her most recent work My Problem with Grace. She feels that life is worth studying intently and invites you to embrace the challenge, consider the beauty in the lowly and share your experiences with others. Keep up with Katie on her blog, KatieÕs Journal, or on Facebook and Twitter.