We’ve all been there. Things didn’t work out — for better or for worse — and you’re spending the evening alone with a pint of ice cream instead of your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Thankfully, there’s a way to get through breakups without getting broken.
Breakups can’t break who you are
One particular breakup overwhelmed me with change. I lost my best friend, my perfect future crumbled and my self-confidence went down a notch or two.
“What’s wrong with me?” I asked.
I’ve been dumped a lot. Sometimes I got a checklist of reasons why, so I’d see it as a to-do list. Do more of this. Do less of that. Essentially, I felt like I needed to change who I was.
It’s not bad to do some self-reflection to see how you can grow. But my motivation should never be to change who I am to fit someone else’s ideal. That ship has sailed.
God didn’t make a mistake when He made me the way I am. Psalm 139 is a great comfort — I’m wonderfully made, intricately woven by the Creator of the universe. Trying to change for the wrong people instead of waiting for the right one was a big mistake.
Breakups can’t break who loves you
The other day I came across a meme that nailed the hardest part of going through a breakup: The person you’d usually confide in and turn to for comfort after a breakup is your ex.
Although I’d lost my best friend in a breakup, there were still people in my life who cared about me and loved me. I’d get all sorts of unsolicited advice from friends about how to cope, next steps and funny ways to get even. But all I wanted to hear was, “That stinks, buddy. I’ll be praying for you,” and then be left alone.
My friends meant well. They wanted to make me smile. They were trying to show they loved me and cared about me. I was just so focused on the love I’d lost that I was missing out on the love that still surrounded me.
I eventually wised up to the fact that breakups revealed who my best friends were — the people who stuck with me no matter what. Instead of locking myself in a room to grieve the love I’d lost, I learned to talk with friends and celebrate the love I still had.
I also learned to pray. A lot. And God answered my prayers by sending His Spirit to comfort me and point me to His unfailing love.
In John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is called my Helper, Advocate and Comforter. He teaches me all things and helps me remember all that Jesus has said to me. Namely, that nothing can separate me from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39). Through prayer, I was reminded that a breakup could never change how God sees me. Spending time alone with God after a breakup was always time well spent.
Breakups can’t break who you love
Retaliation was always tempting. When someone hurt me or rejected me, I was tempted to lash back and leave a few wounds of my own.
Breakups have challenged me to practice Christian love — the kind of love that forgives no matter what it takes (Matt. 18:21-22), that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5) and embraces an enemy, desiring no evil against them (Matt. 5:43-48).
Nobody ever broke up with Jesus. But there was a time when one of His best friends betrayed Him. All of Jesus’s other friends abandoned Him when He needed them most. He died all alone. When He rose from the dead, He pursued those friends with aggressive love, not revenge.
I was always tempted to use a breakup as an excuse to turn bitter, cold and vengeful — as if the world owed me the right to be mad and nasty towards anyone who rejected me. But following Jesus’s example encouraged me to show forgiveness, brotherly love and a joy that’s not of this world. That’s not to say I’m best friends with my ex-girlfriends today, but I’m glad I don’t resent them or harbor any ill will towards them.
I’ve felt broken after breakups. Love slipped through my fingers, and I lost self-confidence, feeling like there was nothing I could do but retaliate. But none of this has to happen when you go through a breakup.
Remember who you are, regardless of what other people want. Remember who loves you, regardless of how people treat you. And remember who you love, no matter how tempting it is to get even.
If you remember these three important things, breakups can never break you.
Copyright 2019 Matt Stickel. All rights reserved.