Lessons from a Breakup

Joella Ranaivoson

January 19, 2022

He was your person, the one who understood you, the one you had the most fun with, the one you thought would be the one. And yet, somewhere down the line in your relationship, as you were moving toward a proposal, engagement, and marriage, the wheels came off of the whole thing. You watched in horror as your relationship careened into a ravine and saw its end. Now, it’s over. But as the dust settles, what are the helpful things you can learn from a break-up?

God is near to the brokenhearted

Break-ups stink. When you love someone and it seems that this may be the person God has for you to spend your life with, it can be entirely disorienting to find yourself at the end of a much different path. You may be asking yourself, "What happened? I thought they were The One!" Allow yourself space and time to grieve the loss of that dream and that companion, knowing that God remains near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and cares for their wounds (Psalm 147:3).This experience may feel rotten, but God's got you.

You are valued

Ending a relationship can be devastating, especially the feeling that you weren’t good enough or valued enough by your ex for them to stay. Yet your value is not determined by someone else's ability to be in relationship. You are a child of God, an image-bearer of the creator (Genesis 1:27). You have value because God loves you. God gives you, your life, your body value. You have value even if the person you’re no longer with couldn’t see it. Just because the relationship didn’t last is not reflective of your value. Your value remains before, during, and post-relationship. Remember that.

You are not defined by your relationship status

It can be upsetting to find yourself in the realm of ‘single’ when you liked being ‘in a relationship.’ But your relationship status does not define you. In fact, if relationship status has been an important aspect of your self-definition, choose to make a change. Who are you on your own? Time with yourself might be a lovely invitation to learn how to define yourself in terms of others. This is a chance to cultivate and invest in your gifts and abilities even more. Consider:

  • What are you good at? What gives you joy? Where are your gifts needed?
  • What parts of yourself did you let go while in a relationship? How can you reclaim those parts of yourself?
  • What parts of yourself did you discover or gain by being in the relationship? What form can those take now that you are single?

You are made and loved by God; you a person; you are part of a family or community member; you have gifts to offer the world and society.

Sometimes it’s just not a right fit

The reasons relationships break up are myriad. Sometimes we leave, other times they leave. Sometimes it’s two good people who just were not a good fit together. Other times, if a relationship is toxic or unhealthy, it is necessary for it to end for both of you to be able to move into a healthier space. The fact that the relationship ended is a sign the relationship was not a good fit. You may come to see the breakup as a gift, avoiding a troubled and painful road ahead. Learning to accept that is part of the healing journey after a break-up.

Discerning your needs

Breakups help us know what we want and need in the next relationship. The end is a good time to take stock of what you value and seek in a relationship.

  • In your previous relationship, were your values and commitments aligned?
  • Were the ways that you lived your lives compatible?
  • Did you envision your futures in similar ways?
  • Where do you sense God is leading you in your life together?
  • What kind of partner would be suited to accompany you?
  • What kind of partner do you want to be?

Ask yourself these questions and hold onto your answers moving forward if and when you enter into a new relationship. Be intentional about the future relationships you engage with by knowing your values and commitments.

You learned how to communicate

When there’s a break-up, you learn how to communicate. To break up, you need to be able to say that it’s over, that you or they are leaving the relationship. Hopefully during the relationship, you were also practicing clear and good communication. But especially at the end, is a good time to use the skill and power of communication by saying what you need, where you’re at, and why you can’t continue in this relationship. Or, to be the receiving party of this kind of communication. It’s unpleasant, but from this, you have learned how to have a break-up conversation, which is an important if unpleasant skill to add to your toolbox.

God has a plan, even if you don’t know it

Life is a mystery, and losing a relationship can be disorienting in terms of life's direction. In this season of upheaval and grief, even if you can’t feel it or understand it, God has good plans for you. It’s a lovely thing that God doesn’t need our comprehension to go ahead and do the good work in our lives to bring us to where God wants us to be (Jeremiah 29:11). You don’t know God’s plans, but you can trust God’s love for you, and therefore the way God is leading you in your life, including this break-up. This doesn’t mean liking it or bypassing the pain of it. It just means trusting God’s plan for your life.

How is God growing/stretching me?

When you are able, and this may not be for a long time yet, consider the relationship. What worked and what didn’t? What were the joyful times like? What were the hard times like? What expectations did you bring on how your ex would fulfill you? Was it a mutual separation? What was your contribution to the joy and to the dissolving of the relationship? Where did you see and experience God through them, in the relationship? How might they have experienced God through you? These are where invitations for your growth may lie when you have the heart space to be able to hold these questions and answer them honestly. Be gentle with yourself--It may be a while yet before you can try to understand what happened.

Just as there were good gifts in the time you had together, there can also be gifts found in the ending of the relationship. Don’t let those pass you by. But take your time. Break-ups are hard.

About the author — Joella Ranaivoson

Joella is an artist using words in writing, songs, and acting to convey truths about being human. Storytelling is the joy. Everything feeds everything, so take it all in and let it feed your creativity.

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