Recovering from Abuse
How Can I Get Over This Breakup?
Q I dated a girl for five years. She was a Christian, but we broke up nine months ago because we felt we weren't right for each other. I haven't been out on any dates since, and lately, I've gotten really down about everything. I want God to fill the void left by my ex-girlfriend, but I feel like he's just putting me through trial after trial. I'm so angry, and it makes me want to quit going to church and quit everything that has to do with God. Yesterday I almost left my Bible at church because I didn't want to have anything to do with the pain it brings me. What should I do?
A First, realize God is not the cause of your pain. Breaking up with someone you love is always hard. While it may have been the right thing to end the relationship, that doesn't keep it from hurting. It hurts because you were very close, and now you're not. But God didn't break you apart. He allowed you to make the decision and to deal with the consequences that followed. The suffering you're now experiencing is just a part of life, something every single person experiences sooner or later. As Job said, "Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward" (5:7).
Second, don't let your frustration push you away from God. Rather, express your anger to him. I don't think God minds when we complain bitterly to him. (The Psalms are full of complaints to God.) Keep your thinking straight, however. You could leave your Bible, leave your church, leave God, and you would still be hurting just as much as ever. Most likely more.
Third, begin to appreciate what suffering can do for you. That may sound like strange advice, but it's true that God can teach you a lot through your trials. He can use them to shape you and make you more of the man he wants you to be. The book of James says this: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (1:2-4).
During these hard times, I'd ask God to show you someone who will listen to you. You don't necessarily need advice. You don't need a girlfriend. You do need an ear from someone who can sympathize, care and listen patiently but not get dragged down into your worst feelings.
Most of all you need time. Healing can be a long process. You're in a marathon, and right now you have reached a point where the race seems hopeless and you want to quit. No shortcuts are available. You have to keep going.
Eventually it will seem worth it. Put your trust in God, continue to live in a way you know is healthy and good, and just keep going. In time you'll discover that you have an occasional good day. Then you'll have almost as many good days as bad. Eventually, the bad feelings will only occasionally intrude.
Hold that in your mind as a hope. You will survive, and you will someday smile again.