Welcome to the second installment of my 2-part Better Breakup blog series. Each post is written so that you can jump in at any point, but you’re welcome to read the first post, “The Basics of Breakup Survival” as well.
Breakups don’t have to bring out the worst in you. That’s why in today’s post I’m going to guide you through the same practical habits God used to transform my split with my EX into a vehicle for lasting, positive change in my life. Learn how to establish a healing relationship with God, and work through your heartache in a way that builds up your character instead of compromises your integrity. Are you ready for a better breakup? Let’s get started.
GLOWING UP JUST TO LET MYSELF DOWN
It was a few weeks into my breakup and I was officially in the bitter-and-mad, but ready to start healing phase. Lord knows when you’re hurting the last thing you really want is to honestly deal with your pain. Things like that are uncomfortable and take time…and I was ready for the heartache to be over already! So naturally I opted to do what would give me immediate results and hopefully prove to be the quickest route back to “normal.”
A dramatic haircut, new wardrobe, refurbished apartment, one night stand, and a few drunken nights of partying later…my heart was still broken and I was minus a lot of the dignity –and money– I started with.
Why do we take such shallow measures to solve our deep-rooted heart problems? Glowing up on your Ex, may seem like the perfect thing to do right now, but can I be honest? No amount of physical makeovers, shiny toys, or rebound lovers will ever satisfy our broken hearts, or remedy the wounds of our romantic pasts. We need healing that starts from the inside out. That’s why it’s time to quit the quick fixes and take the first steps with Christ down the slow, honest path to healing.
HOLDING HANDS WITH “THE WAY”
“Hold up, wait a minute, why’d you have to put Jesus in it?” Great question. Jesus is absolutely relevant to your heartbreak. Here’s why. Two of our biggest felt-needs post-breakup is: 1) to know that we are loved; and 2) to discover a new “normal” without the person that was formerly a part of our everyday routines.
When our value and identities feel like blaring question marks, we start scrambling to try to fill the void. We try to keep up appearances. We pursue the next relationship. We prove our Ex missed out on us with dramatic weight loss or by one-upping him or her in our careers. If your past wounds dictate your direction in life –despite any external success you may experience– you’ll still be a broken person.
If your past wounds dictate your direction in life –despite any external success you may experience– you’ll still be a broken person.
How can we move forward from a place of healing? Jesus is the “great physician” of our souls. He can heal the self-inflicted brokenness we cause by our own sin, and the brokenness that results from blows we’ve received from others. Jesus can walk with you down that slow, honest path to healing, because He is the way to that healing.
The cross reminds us that before there was anything loveable about us, Jesus first loved us by laying down His life for us (Romans 5:8). Healing starts with a relationship with Christ. Not simply believing in Him or going to church on Sunday, but doing life with Him on a daily basis.
It was through my relationship with Christ that I discovered my “new normal”: a me that was still impatient for my future spouse, but was comforted by the love of her Savior, growing spiritually, and healing from her past one day at a time. It’s okay if you’re far from perfect. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, but –if you’re willing to let Him– Jesus can take your broken pieces and make you whole too. (Learn more about starting a relationship with Christ right here.)
TRUST THE PROCESS
Did you know that pain is a necessary component of the healing process? (Really! This isn’t some blog article embellishment, I promise you!) A recent study demonstrated that pain alerts the opioids in your cells to rev up cell movement, which speeds up the healing process. Pain sensing cells called “neuropeptides” also play a key role in healing. If we need pain to heal physically, how much more do we need it to heal mentally and spiritually?
Dealing with the emotional pain of a breakup is necessary for healing to occur. Our natural reaction to pain is to numb it or to avoid it completely. Believe it or not, there are actually painkillers that when taken slow down the healing process. (Whaaaat?!!!! I know right!) It’s crucial that you actually work through the pain you’re feeling now if you want to experience healing.
Confession. There have been times that I’ve tried taking matters in my own hands, because I didn’t trust Christ’s process of healing. (Not necessarily because God was making hard for me, but because my own lack of trust and the temptation to do my own thing was so strong.) What about you? Is it hard for you to trust God’s process of healing?
I’m not going to sugarcoat this: Embracing a lifestyle of faith isn’t easy, but the discipline of trusting Christ –even when it feels unnatural– leads to lasting healing and change. So, now that you’ve hopefully decided to trust God’s process let’s talk about how you can practically begin living it. How do you glow up from the inside out?
GLOW UP FROM THE INSIDE OUT BY…
PRACTICING THE SPIRITUAL HABITS OF SCRIPTURE READING, PRAYER, & MEDITATION
Don’t. Skip. This. Of everything I’m about to share this habit is what helped me see the biggest change in my life. The word “change” brings to mind a big, flashy transformation, but honestly the biggest life-changers are the ones that can’t be seen. Take the spiritual habits of scripture reading, prayer, & meditation for example. No one can visibly tell if you’re doing them or not, but as these disciplines help you cultivate a closer relationship with God they begin to change the way you think, which influences your decisions and ultimately overflows into every aspect of your life. (By the way, I’ve created a free training on this called, “Bible Routine in 10 Minutes.” Join the community to get immediate access.)
SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH GOOD COMPANY
Fun fact. Vegetable gardening can teach you a lot about the company you keep. Companion planting is a nifty trick I use to help my plants produce more crops.
Google defines companion planting as “the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests.” Thanks for clearing that up, Google. What’s this got to do with glowing up you ask? As you strive to use this breakup as a catalyst for lasting, positive change in your life you’ll need to surround yourself with good, godly friends that: 1) enhance your spiritual growth; and 2) protect you from taking steps backward in your walk with Christ. Paul lists some of the benefits of community in Ephesians 4:9-12:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken (ESV).
Connect with believers at your local church/college ministry for friendship, support, and mentorship. Friendships with other believers was personally a saving grace for me as a new believer. There were plenty of shoulders to cry on, and couches to surf when things overwhelmed me. I’m so grateful for their love. If you don’t have a church, click here for a list of recommended churches in your area. (If you’re not sold on the idea of church, check out this article.)
BEING A GOAL DIGGER
Now is a great time to focus on your personal goals. I know it might’ve seemed like I was bashing goal-setting before, but I’m not. I just want you to concentrate on achieving your weight loss, career, creative, or [you fill in the blank] goals with the right motivation. Being motivated by bitterness, revenge, or unforgiveness won’t help you move forward. You don’t want to constantly revisit past hurt –allowing yourself to get pumped up by your anger– in order to achieve your goal.
Pray and ask God to help you move forward in the spirit of forgiveness (if necessary) and peace. Whether you’re Ex feels sorry or comes crawling back or not, it won’t impact how far you’ve come from where you started. So, grab a journal and write down 3 goals you’d like to work towards. They could be big or small, fun or serious. Just make sure your efforts are rooted in faith in God, hope for the journey ahead, and love for people who helped you get there –for better or for worse.
SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Finally, you want to protect yourself by setting healthy boundaries. Practicing sexual purity is one proven way to keep yourself from further complicating the affairs of your heart. Sex is a beautiful but powerful gift that God has reserved for marriage. It cracks me up how practically every breakup survival guide on Pinterest actually suggests that you sleep with someone else to get over your Ex. Ridiculous! Let me tell you from personal experience that this doesn’t help you AT ALL. It just creates more scandal, drama, and heartbreak.
Give yourself some breathing room by taking yourself out of the dating equation for a while. It’s wise to give your heart time to heal and grieve the lost of your past relationship. Contemplate your mistakes through a biblical lens. What were some lessons you learned?
Don’t be in a rush to start “talking” with someone. You know what I mean. Texting, calling, skyping, hanging out, or whatever you want to call it with someone of the opposite sex (or same-sex if you have same-sex attractions). If someone asks, “Are you and so-and-so going out?” You respond, “We’re just talking.” This kind of fooling-around has the potential to set you back, BIG TIME. If possible, don’t hangout with members of the opposite sex alone.
Taking time to step back from your situation and contemplate it with a sober mind will help you mature as an adult and see where you have room to improve as a future spouse.
One Last Thing…
Hey, girl. Above all else, remember that even though this breakup thing sucks you’re going to be okay. You have a beautiful future ahead of you. Don’t rush to feel like you’re “over it.” Take it slow. Glow up from the inside-out by learning how to trust God’s process one day at a time. Practice those habits above, especially on the hard days. Keep walking with Jesus down that hard, honest path to healing, and “I know-ow-ow-ow…a change gonna come. Oh yes, it will!”