Breakups suck. Christian breakups (really) suck. They are the absolute worst, up there with opening a pack of Starbursts to see you only got the lemon kind and accidentally leaving your car window slightly open in the rain, but like, so much worse. Whether it was 4 months or 4 years. Whether it ended before it started or was moving towards something more. Whether the “L” word was used or not. Whether you were dumped or you did the dumping, it still hurts. The sting might be different, but it’s still a sting.
As I navigate my life PBU (post-breakup), I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that I found helpful. While there’s a lot (like… A LOT) of emphasis placed on dating and marriage in many Christian circles, I would argue that the same TLC isn’t given to the people in the BUC (breakup club). And not that there’s anything wrong with dating and marriage (I love love!), but breakups are also a reality of life for many people. So if you’ve recently been added to the BUC, welcome! Or you have been hanging out here for a while, I hope you find this helpful as you navigate through your journey.
I bet you’re processing a lot right now. I bet you have a lot of questions and “what ifs” that live in your head rent free. In a PBU world, it is very common to find yourself analyzing every aspect of your relationship and wondering what on earth is next for you. Between the grief of losing someone you care for deeply, managing the emotions that are right in front of you, and then trying to put on a brave face so you can get through the day, it can be pretty overwhelming. So friend, please breathe. Actually, take three deep breaths right now. Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Exhale…
Good. This might be something you need to remind yourself to do every once in a while. Muster up all of your worry, anger, sadness, frustration, regret, or whatever else is on your mind as you breathe in. And release it all as you blow your breath out.
I promise, you’re going to be okay.
2. Let yourself feel.
Seriously. Suppressing your feelings is not helpful in the long run. Odds are, you’ll find an unhealthy way to deal with your emotions if you don’t take the time to feel them. If you’re angry, feel angry. If you’re sad, feel sad. Cry if you need to. Scream if you need to. One of my friends explained the emotions that she felt during a break up to be like waves. There would be moments of peace and hope, where the metaphorical waters would be calm. But sometimes the tides rise and the waves of sorrow, bitterness, and despair crash over you. Now, I don’t surf (I can’t even swim!), but in this case, riding out the waves is more beneficial than fighting them. And if riding the waves looks like writing a strongly worded letter to your ex that you’ll shred later, ordering Skip the Dishes or UberEats and watching movies that make you laugh, or taking a nap, so be it.
But notice how I didn’t say you should be controlled by your feelings. That my friend, is some dangerous territory, mainly because not all of our feelings and thoughts are good. When writing about the tension that the Corinthians faced, the Apostle Paul wrote, “… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5, NIV). So while your emotions may bring about thoughts of wanting to egg the car of the person you once thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, this verse reminds us that rash actions like that will not yield the best results.
During my time in the BUC, I’ve dealt with a vast range of feelings and thoughts. I’ve been bitter, enraged, disappointed, and worried. And early on, I learned to accept those feelings as valid, not as my guiding light or as utmost truth, but valid. I like to think of it this way:
Imagine your thoughts, feelings, and emotions as being suitcases at an airport baggage claim. As they make their rounds on the carousel, you acknowledge them as they go by. The heartache you feel in light of your current situation, the fears you have about the future, the regret that festers inside of you are all real sentiments. But that doesn’t mean that they’re worth picking up from the carousel, because they aren’t yours to carry. God took that burden from you with His grace, so you can give them a little wave as they pass you. But focus on picking up the truths that are made evident in God’s Word, like knowing that God will never leave or forsake you, that He still has a divine purpose for your life, that you are loved, that grace has been freely given to you.
3. Get in community
We were intended to do life with others. I truly found that one of the most impactful things I did upon my entry into the BUC was confiding in a handful of friends and mentors about what I was going through, people in my life who were willing to listen, console, lovingly challenge, and encourage. I am beyond thankful that God placed those people in my life because they allowed me the opportunity to process my emotions, and helped me to ultimately gain a deeper perspective as to how God was using this season to shape me into the person He intended me to be. I highly recommend reaching out to a few mature Christians in your life for guidance and support. It could be a parent, sibling, friend, pastor, or counsellor. It is likely that they will be able to speak out of a place of experience, even though their journey may differ from yours, which gives you the opportunity to glean from their wisdom.
4. Lean on God
I can confidently say that this has been the best thing I’ve pursued during my time in the BUC. When someone is in a vulnerable situation such as a breakup, it can be very easy to turn your back on the Father. Downloading a dating app, pursuing a rebound, or turning to an unhealthy coping mechanism for hours on end may seem much more enticing. But friends, I implore you to run to Jesus. Run to him like you never have before. Come with your sadness, anger, shame, guilt, or whatever else you may be feeling. He is ready to meet you where you’re at. He is ready to give you hope.
I personally had spent months in a very dry season in my faith before my breakup. As I reflect back now, I can see how God used it as a reminder that I have to live a life of constant surrender to Him, that no person or thing can have authority over him. And through the tears I cried, and sleepless nights I endured, I was able to experience the love and redemption of God in a way I never had previously. With full certainty, I can say that I love Jesus more now than I ever have. And I hope that over time you can say the same thing.
The primary practices that I began to intentionally reincorporate into my daily routine were worship, the Word, prayer… and a lot less time on Instagram.
I’m a musician, so my times of worship included playing my violin in my apartment, listening to the 8 hours worth of worship songs that I put on a break up Spotify playlist, and plunking on the keys of our church’s baby grand that sits in the lobby after a long youth group night. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me.
I started reading through the books of Job and Psalms in my early days of being in the BUC, and I was intrigued by the rawness of Job and the Psalmists’ prayers. It inspired me to express to God how I was really feeling because… well… He already knew. I recorded many of these prayers in a journal so that I could have a physical reminder of how my heart and mind were being transformed in this unforeseen season in my life and further challenged myself to pray from the unfiltered depths of my soul. These prayers were not always eloquent, and if anything did include a few choice words. (But this is Christians Who Curse Sometimes after all!) But bringing everything I was experiencing internally to God as an act of surrender gave me the strength that I needed to move forward.
Instagram pages to follow:
@werenotreallystrangers– We’re Not Really Strangers is a card game intended for making connections, but they also share some very insightful questions on their feed and stories.
@mirrorsreflectyou- a collection of quotes and statements that can be very grounding as you scroll your news feed, but they also have great, engaging content on their stories!
@drcarolineleaf- Dr. Caroline Leaf is a neuroscientist, mental health & mind expert who shares great insight in regard to keeping your mind healthy.
@LysaTerKeurst- Author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries Lysa TerKeurst and she shares content that truly inspires.
Songs to add to your BUC Playlist:
– Find Me by Joseph Solomon
– Beautiful by Montell Fish (ft. Cortes)
– Glory by Lord’s Child, Montell Fish, Teddi Jones
-Moving Forward by Israel Houghton
– Rose Garden by Shad
– Promises by Maverick City
– Highs & Lows by Hillsong Young & Free
– Jesus What a Savior by Housefires
– Light After Darkness by Kings Kaleidoscope
Whatever you do, keep moving and keep leaning on God. It is no shock to him that you’re in the BUC. I wish I could, but I unfortunately can’t say whether or not you’ll get back with the person you were once with. But what I do know is that God has brought you to this place in your life for a reason. Take the time to learn what He is trying to teach you. Strive to be holy. Don’t worry about a timeline. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Fix your eyes on Him, and all that He has willed will fall into place.
Abbey is the Youth Pastor at Life Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has a desire for people to realize their identity and value in Christ, which will ultimately propel them into becoming the who God called them to be. In her free time you can catch Abbey browsing a farmer’s market, watching a documentary, doing something related with music, or working on her calligraphy side business.