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What will help me get over a broken engagement?

The Lord is my strength, and I know that He is in control, but as hard as I fight for His joy I just can't find it.


My fiancée broke up with me. She returned the ring and told me she couldn’t marry me. It has been three weeks, and I cannot shake her from my heart or my mind.

She said God was leading her away from me, but after talking to her recently, she now says that she just isn’t ready to settle down and needs to be selfish. What I don’t understand is that she says she still loves me. She says she isn’t good enough for me and that she can’t be the godly woman I need.

I am so broken and confused. I understand that this is the Lord’s will, but I don’t know how to proceed. In my heart she is my wife, and I can’t even imagine thinking of her as anything else or considering someone else. I am depressed and nothing can keep my mind off her. The Lord is my strength, and I know He is in control, but as hard as I fight for His joy, I just can’t find it.

What do I do?


Your question launched me back 20 years, driving home from a weekend visit with my girlfriend, stinging from her news that the most serious relationship in which I’d ever been involved was over. We weren’t engaged, but all signs leading up to that weekend pointed in that direction.

In what seemed like an instant, she went from “in love” to “out of love” and sent me home with my head spinning and my heart crushed. That day and the following few months now seem like a mere blip on the radar, but in the moment it felt like an eternity of ache that would never go away.

When a relationship ends as yours has, it is a “death” in your heart. You’ll go through stages similar to that of any grieving process. You’ll probably experience a mixture of denial (“this isn’t a breakup, just a break!”), anger (“how dare she!”), bargaining (“I wonder what I could change about myself to bring the relationship back to life?”), depression (“what’s the point of even getting out of bed?”) and eventually acceptance (“OK. It’s time to take a step forward”).

I’m no psychiatrist, but most of the significant grief I’ve experienced, and have witnessed others experience, go through various levels of these stages (and not necessarily in that order). It was certainly true of my own loss of a treasured relationship and since then of many other significant losses.

That’s what psychiatry tells us, anyway, and I think it helps inform the emotions that come at you in waves. At the very least you can assure yourself that you’re not losing your mind.

We don’t want to stop at psychiatry, though. We want to walk with God through the whole process, seek His heart on the matter, and let Him work it out for His glory and our good, which takes transformation, not just information.

It is my conviction that God wants to use every life experience, whether good or bad from our view, as a catalyst to draw us into deeper intimacy with Him and give us hope. Let me say it again so you are clear on this: God wants to use what you are currently experiencing to reveal more of himself to you. Some moments in life seem more conducive to seeking and finding God as a real, present and powerful friend. Whether you are willing is entirely up to you.

You are, without a doubt, suffering. Yes, on the suffering scale things could be much worse and are for many other people. But this is where God has you at this moment, and you have a choice. You can either enter into this wilderness with Him or go it alone. In your head you know God is your shelter and sustainer; now He wants you to experience it.

Here’s what I suggest. Get a journal and start praying and writing. Start off by writing a prayer to the Father, telling Him that you want to embrace all He has for you through this season (if that is the case, and I hope it is). Carry your journal with you and start writing down what is going on in your heart throughout the day, and as you write, give those thoughts and feelings over to Christ, writing those prayers down. Review your journal at the end of each week and pray through your experiences, asking God to “enlighten the eyes of your heart to know the hope to which He has called you.

You will be amazed at what God will do, not so much to change your circumstances, but to open your eyes to His reality in, and sovereignty over, your current life season. That’s what He did for me during my heartbreak and what He has done countless times since then.

I can make you this promise: If you will seek God in this, you will find Him and be satisfied beyond words. Remember though, this won’t happen overnight. All grief is different, so be patient and let God do His thorough work. You can’t see it now, but there will come a day when your ashes turn beautiful.



Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

John Thomas

John Thomas has been a Boundless contributor since its beginning in 1998. He and his wife, Alfie, have three children and live in Arkansas, where he serves as executive director of Ozark Camp and Conference Center, a youth camp and retreat center.


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