As a respected youth leader in my church, no one would have ever suspected that I was struggling with sexual sin. After moving into my own apartment off my college campus, things got progressively worse. When I began to hear God calling me into a life-transforming relationship with Him, I was living with my boyfriend. I knew it wasn’t possible to serve God and continue living the way I was…and that was my dilemma.
Looking back, I wish I had some guidance on how I could possibly break up with my atheist boyfriend, make Jesus Lord of my life, and maintain my sanity all at the same time. Today I want to give you something I didn’t have years ago: The Relationship Exit Strategy. This step-by-step action plan is designed to help you end an ungodly relationship, so that you can start living for Christ without the bondage of sexual sin. Let’s get started.
Step 1 | Know Why You’re Leaving
It’s not easy leaving someone you have feelings for. In the heat of the moment you’ll feel tempted to drop the whole ‘break up’ thing mid-way. That’s why it’s so important that you understand why you are leaving this relationship.
Anything that we allow to wedge itself between us and God becomes an idol in our lives. If you are in a relationship with an unbeliever, or are sexually active with anyone other than your spouse, you’re engaged in sin. To continue in that relationship would put hostility between you and God.
“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion…God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, NLT).”
At first, you may feel like you’re experiencing a huge loss, but can you imagine forfeiting God’s unending, perfect love for the sake for a temporary, flawed-romantic experience? Consider it gain to lose the burdens of shame and guilt so that you may live holy and pave the way for a more healthy relationship with your future spouse.
Step 2 | Pray for Strength to Follow Through
Imagine you’re holding the television remote. It’d be more difficult to pry it from your hands if you have a death grip on it, but on the same note once it’s been snatched away chances are you’ll have some bruises left on your hand from the struggle. When we hold onto ungodly relationships with a death grip, we set ourselves up for inevitable pain and misery. @Lifeb4Eternity !ref
Letting go and trusting God is H-A-R-D, especially if you’re inexperienced. It’s a supernatural demand that we can’t meet by ourselves. That’s why prayer is necessary. Pray and ask God to strengthen you to follow-through with complete repentance by removing yourself from the relationship. Ask Him to prepare both your heart and your partner’s, and for help exercising wisdom as you navigate the conversation.
Step 3 | Consult Your Mentor or Friends for Support
Community is a huge key to getting through the tough times ahead. You’re going to need to surround yourself with other people who want to please God and have your best interest in mind. Find yourself a mentor –an older or more mature Christian– or trusted peer –someone your age that is exercising purity. It’s critical that this person is the same-sex as you (except perhaps if you are struggling with same-sex attraction).
Let them shoulder some of your pain by sharing your struggle with them and asking them to support you and hold you accountable to leaving this relationship. (If you are serving in a leadership role in your church, prepare yourself to step down from your role –at least temporarily– as you repent and restore your right relationship with God.)
“If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding (Proverbs 15:32, NLT).”
You may think that you’re capable of handling the situation alone, but it’s wise to have a mature believer speaking into your life. Matters of the heart tend to cloud your good judgment, so share your struggle with a fellow believer so that he or she may pray for you and help you gain freedom from sexual sin (James 5:16).
Step 4 | Have the Conversation
Meet your partner face-to-face to let them know you wish to end the relationship. (I would limit a breakup text, email, or phone call to long-distance relationships and situations where you feel you may be attacked.) Choose a place where you’d both feel comfortable having this sensitive conversation. (If you feel like you’ll flake, don’t be ashamed to ask your accountability partner to monitor the conversation from a distance. Whatever it takes.)
So what do you say?…Just be honest. Tell your partner how God has impacted your life and the way you desire to live. Let him or her know that you care for them and that you desire for them to have a relationship with God as well, but that pleasing God in every aspect of your life is a priority for you now.
I know it’s easier, said than done. Maybe you’re afraid of hurting your partner, but keep in mind that you’ll be doing him or her a loving favor. You’ll be demonstrating that God desires a personal relationship with us all –one that goes beyond the superficial appearances– and encouraging them to start a relationship with Jesus.
Step 5 | Separate From Your Ex
As hard as it will be, you’ll need to separate yourself from your Ex. It’s so important that you give yourself time and space to move on. Feel free to cry and be sad that you’ve broken up, but just remember why it was necessary.
Limit contact with your Ex as much as possible. If contact is unavoidable (because you live in a small town, go to the same school, work in the same place, etc.), try not to take the same route where you may bump into each other. If you live together, ask your partner to leave (or if it’s your partner’s place, move out).
If your Ex suggests that he or she is interested in having a relationship with Christ, share the gospel. However, leave follow-up and discipleship to another believer, perhaps a leader in your church or another mature Christian. If he or she is sincere, they will have the opportunity to pursue a relationship with Him and grow spiritually without you being directly involved.
Step 6 | Follow-up with Your Accountability Partner(s) & Support
A broken heart is not something you want to deal with alone. Of course, God and His word are our chief comforters, but He also supplies us with the hugs, affection, acts of kindness, hospitality, friendship, and love we need through Christian community. This is where your mentor and/or accountability partners come into play. Let them know how your conversation with your Ex went, and continue to meet with them as you progress through your walk with Christ and your singleness.
Hey, Sister, I hope this Relationship Exit Strategy was helpful to you. The journey ahead will have its thrilling ups and painful downs, but God has a way of making those bitter times sweet in unexpected ways. As you take the first steps to trust God –holding nothing back– He will begin to blow your mind with His soul-satisfying love.
When we hold onto ungodly relationships with a death grip, we set ourselves up for inevitable pain and misery.
Continue the Conversation
What threat does an ungodly relationship pose to your connection with God? Comment below with your response.