It wasn’t easy listening to his quivering voice on the other end of the phone line, shattered by the pain of heartbreak. Only weeks ago he was sharing with excitement about the wedding day that was up ahead. Today, he told a different story: a story of hurt, betrayal and loss. A story of a relationship that once was, but was now no more, and would never be again.
A breakup can be one of the most difficult struggles to endure. It is a difficult loss in that it takes away something from the past, the present and the future. It requires retraction of the past, a reorientation of the present and a rerouting of the future. It finds you feeling alone, fills you with doubts and leaves you confused.
But as hard as breakups can be, they don’t always lead to devastation. After the cloud of pain has dissolved, there always lies the potential for greater things. In fact, many times, breakups are the very things that open the door for growth, maturity and healing.
Maybe you’re struggling with the pain of a relationship turned sour. Maybe you find yourself caught within the tangles of the “what if’s” of your past, the “what now’s” of your present and the “where to’s” of your future. Maybe you wonder if you will ever heal from this pain and how you will possibly move past it. Breaking up is hard to do, and that’s the truth. But for those who believe in God’s gracious plan for their life—even in the midst of pain and confusion, there is always hope. Here are some ways to navigate through this hard time:
Give Yourself Time to Grieve
One of the most paralyzing parts of heartbreak comes when people don’t take the time to grieve. Wanting to quickly move past the loss of their present, they plow forward into the future—never taking the time to really address the hurts, pain, and insecurities that may have taken root during the break up.
Unfortunately, that baggage of heartbreak never disappears and follows them into relationship after relationship causing even more damage than the original breakup itself.
The best thing you can do for yourself during a breakup is to take the time to grieve. Acknowledge the loss, the hurt and the wounds that have come as a result of your broken relationship. Give your heart the time it needs to rebuild, resolve and restore. Don’t bring healing into your life by way of rebound relationships, but instead give God the time to mend and heal your broken heart in the way that He does best.
Adjust Your Perspective
In the midst of heartbreak, it’s easy to see a breakup as a seemingly dead end. The pain and confusion can be blinding, robbing you of hope and taking away your vision. The most healing component of dealing with heart break is perspective. Rather than seeing a breakup as the end of the road, it’s crucial to see it as a rerouting of plans. Many times, God uses break-ups as a way to guide and lead you into something new, something you may have never ventured into on your own.
Looking back at my past, I am so thankful for the times God allowed my heart to be broken and redirected. Though it was painful in the moment, it was that brokenness that shifted my direction and that ultimately led me into relationship with the man that I would fall in love with and ultimately marry.
Look Forward, Not Backward
One of the most agonizing things about breaking up is the temptation to keep looking back. In my experience as a professional counselor, the men and women who are unable to move forward in relationships are the ones who are fixated on their past. Obsessed with what if’s, should have’s and could have’s, the tendency to focus on what went wrong in the past keeps them from moving forward into what’s right in the future.
God calls us to look forward—to forget what was behind and look to what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). To see the new things that He is doing in our life rather than to dwell on the old. He encourages us to focus on hope, healing and potential rather than waste our life on regrets, judgments and needless analysis. He calls us to live for today and hope for tomorrow, because no matter what has happened in our past, greater things are yet to come.
It’s hard to believe in greater things when you’re dealing with the emotional pain and sorting through the psychological damage of a breakup.
By looking at his marriage today, you’d never believe this is the same friend I was speaking to on the phone just five years before. Married to the love of his life and enjoying the blessing of his two beautiful children, he’s found the woman that he never could have imagined existed. Looking at their relationship, it seems that they were destined for one another, and maybe they were. As hard as it was to endure the heartbreak of his past, I know he’s thankful for it because it was part of the plan that led him to where he is today.
It’s important to remind yourself that the painful feelings will pass; they always do. Until then, be deliberate about giving yourself a chance to grieve, changing your perspective and looking to the future. God has a really good plan for your life. And no one person or situation is powerful enough to get in the way of that plan. Be comforted by that truth, and then take it one day at a time. Breaking up is hard to do, but when God is in it, you will come out blessed on the other side. Hold on to that truth.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.