Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Light in the Darkness: Finding Hope After a Relationship Breakup
Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Micah 7:8
Breakups are hard. Whether you’re trying to get over someone who left or you’re the one leaving, breakups are messy, complicated and often devastatingly difficult. That’s because we’re designed for attachment and connection, not separation and disconnection.
Yet, for many singles, our dating lives are a series of hello’s and goodbye’s—attaching and detaching—from our teenage years until we stand at the altar (or don’t). We date and breakup, date and breakup in a crazy-making cycle. Often, people who marry and divorce find themselves back in the same pattern, too.
Whether you dated briefly or for a long time, the loss of love can be shattering. Your mind swirls with questions: What did I do wrong? Why did he leave? Aren’t I worth being loved well? What if I never find anyone like him again? What if I never find anyone again?
One day you’re sad, the next day you’re angry, and suddenly you’re just numb; you don’t feel anything because it just hurts too much to feel. Maybe you feel rejected, betrayed, or broken-hearted. If you’re the one who left him, you may be suffering guilt and shame. Either way, you just want the pain to stop. You want healing and you want answers.
Is it possible to get through this fragmenting process without falling to pieces?
Yes. Thankfully, yes.
Every story has a beginning and an end, and often the healing process is like the cycle of a day.
Twilight is a time of endings. The sun and the relationship are both disappearing, and you learn that, sadly, loss and brokenness are a part of life. Yet how you deal with endings, how you handle the emotional fallout of your breakup, in healthy or unhealthy ways, will determine the quality of your future love relationships—and your life.
Night is the darkness of grieving your losses. You’ve lost love, friendship, physical touch, and the hope of being with this person forever. You seem to have misplaced your worth and value, and your self esteem (and maybe some self respect) are hiding. Thankfully, God provides “night lights” in the darkness, like His comfort, wisdom and love, to guide the way to the daylight of joy and new beginnings.
Dawn reveals the truth as God illuminates your thinking, just as the first fingers of morning inch across the horizon. Hope awakens with the light.
You begin to see God’s character and learn how he redeems losses and restores brokenness. As you discover your true identity as a dearly loved child of God, you gain greater confidence and learn to make wiser choices in love.
Finally Day breaks and you find that letting go of the past is truly possible. It’s time to move forward into your future. As the sun’s rays shine into the dark corners of your life, you reawaken to important things you’ve forgotten or put aside, like: gratitude, serving others, building friendships and community, and maybe even living your dreams.
With renewed vision, you are no longer hiding in the shadows of yesterday. Radiance has returned, and with the light of Christ in you, you are ready to be a light to the world.
Bottom line: When you deal with emotional wounds and let God heal them, you can be better equipped to find the healthy and lasting love you truly desire.
However, instead of dealing with the emotional rubble from a broken heart, a lot of us turn to our favorite comfort foods—like ice cream, potato chips, chocolate, creamy mashed potatoes, or fresh, hot bread lathered in butter—to try and fill the emptiness and soothe the sorrow. Others loose their appetite completely.
In the long run, comfort food in moderation isn’t going to hurt you, but it’s not going to heal your broken heart. It may seem to satisfy you for a time, but the void remains—the heart holes of loss, loneliness, rejection or regret. What are you going to do to get past the pain when the pint or plate of food is empty?
Do you need comfort and support to cope with your disappointment? Do you want to get unstuck and move forward with your life? If so, “When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty” (Moody Publishing) can help you to get through the pain and find life—and joy—again.
The hopeful truth is God heals brokenness; He redeems loss and pain and heals the heart to love again. He is all about restoration and transformation—from sadness to joy, from rejection to acceptance, and from brokenness to wholeness.
Indeed, The One who loves you most can help you reconnect again—to God, yourself, and others—and in the process to discover what real, healthy love looks like so you can make wiser choices next time.
You don’t have to be afraid of the dark, for you are not alone. Not ever. Even in the diffused light of dusk, when you can hardly see the way, God’s lantern of truth and His presence remain constant. He will be with you through the night and lead you to hope, healing and brighter days ahead.
You just have to follow the Light.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.