Silent tears rolled down my face. I knew we had made the right decision, but my heart broke. I left his car, the reality hitting me. The realization of how hard this was going to be started to sink in. As I got into my car, I called my mom to tell her the news.
Breakups are hard. It really doesn’t matter the situation; they just are. In February I broke up with my boyfriend after seven months of dating. The weeks following were probably the most painful days I had experienced. But God did a healing work in my heart as I was able to learn and grow from the pain. I was also able to use the time to reflect on lessons I learned, misguided expectations, and think through what I would do differently in the future.
Lesson #1: Don’t Allow dating relationship to replace other friendships
A romantic relationship by nature is one that needs intentionality and time devoted. Relationships take work, but so do friendships. While I was dating, I found myself neglecting my girlfriends. I was not vulnerable with them because I had not been putting in the effort to deepen those relationships. Once I broke up, those friends were the ones who got me through. I was able to thrive as I spent time with goldy women who were there for me. I began to put in time and effort into those relationships. I found that by strengthening those friendships through being vulnerable and just having fun, I have been able to find freedom in being who God created me to be.
Lesson #2: Don’t go all-in too quickly
I have always wanted to get married. The thought of being alone all my life has sounded scary. When I started dating, I felt a sense of security knowing that someone really wanted to be with me. Nearly everyone wants companionship, so this is not something that was unique to me. However, when I entered into a relationship, I went all in. I thought we were going to get married. I let my thoughts go there before I was able to know if it was the right thing. Marriage is a good desire that God has given us. But it is so important to be discerning as to the maturity of the relationship and whether or not it is time to begin thinking seriously about the future.
Lesson #3: Don’t compare to other relationships
My sister got engaged after six months of dating, right around the time I got into my relationship. What worked for them didn’t necessarily work for us. It is so important to recognize the uniqueness of each individual relationship. Just because something is right for one couple does not mean it is for another. Even though my sister and her then-boyfriend were serious right away did not mean it was the same for me, as we were in different stages of life. This can create unrealistic expectations that can add strain to a relationship.
Lesson #4: Don’t change who you are
Relationships grow you. There should be an element of change in your life as you push each other towards growth and refinement. However, it is not healthy to change who you are as a person for your significant other. If you are feeling like there are things unique to you that you can’t fully live into, there may need to be a conversation. God created relationships, marriage in specific, to be two unique people coming together. This means that who you are as a person, all the quirks, giftings, passions, and even baggage are elements that are brought into a relationship. These things, though they should be refined, should not be changed in order to “fit” better with your significant other.
Lesson #5: Past relationships are not a waste of time
It can be tempting to be filled with regrets, wondering if the months or perhaps years of a past relationship were wasted. This is a thought that I have allowed to slip into my mind. Because I went through a breakup, I have done quite a bit of reflecting. The Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to areas in my own heart where my affections were misguided. Relationships have a way of showing our weakness. If I had not been in a relationship, there are so many things I wouldn’t have learned about myself. And in this relationship, there were so many good times. At first it was hard to know what to do with the memories. But as I move farther away from the relationship, I am able to think back on those memories and recognize that they were God’s grace to me at that time. I am beginning to recognize God’s hand in every good moment and every hard moment.
While I would never wish a breakup on anyone, it is amazing what God does in our hearts when we are hurting. I know that he revealed himself to me in a real way when my heart was broken. He came to me as a Father with his love and care. I felt surrounded and loved. Whether single, broken up, or in a relationship, we can know that God’s hand is in our every moment. The moments when we want to shout for joy and the moments where we are crying alone in our cars. God redeems the good and the hard times in order that he might be known in a deeper, more intimate way.