How to handle heartbreak as a Christian
“Accept the pain, face the grief head-on and be vulnerable to heal”
Chances are, your heart has been or will be broken at some point or another. As death is a part of life, heartbreak is a part of love. It may be tempting, in the midst of pain, to become cynical about loving someone again. But I warn you against this. C.S. Lewis speaks to this as he writes:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Honor Your Emotions
It’s ok to be sad. In fact, if you’re not, that’s a little concerning. Your heart is broken. A relationship you deeply cared about has ended. You will experience a period of grief and that isn’t a bad thing. We live in a world that is constantly trying to tell us it’s not good to be sad, that if we’re sad we need to fix it. We try to numb ourselves by texting new people, by binging on Nextflix, by becoming overly busy, by sleeping, by entering into new relationships.
But at the end of the day, that doesn’t change the fact that our hearts are grieving. Numbing yourself is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound, sure, it might cover it up, but if you’re not properly caring for the wound it won’t actually heal.
So, I encourage you to allow yourself to grieve, to let yourself feel the pain. But remember, “weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). This too will pass! While the pain won’t disappear overnight, your heart will heal. Day by day, the heaviness will become lighter, easier to bear, and you will find your thoughts are not so consumed by this moment in time.
As you heal, you will become stronger. Eventually, you will be free of that pain (I promise!), but know that it’s a process, and do not become discouraged.
Reinvest Your Time
It’s easy to feel alone when you first break up. Figuring out what to do with all your free time is one of the hardest transitions of any breakup. Rather than resenting your new state of singleness, embrace this time! Submerge yourself in prayer, surround yourself with people who love you, engage in activities that bring you joy, cross something off your to-do list, try new things! And always remember that while loneliness is a very real feeling, you are never truly alone, for God will never abandon you.
Do not Listen to SAD SONGS!
There’s something so beautiful in the raw emotion of the lyrics to a sad song. However, listening to these songs does not usually orient the heart to God, allowing you to trust in his plan. Instead, you are left wallowing in self-pity. So, try to listen to songs that remind you of God’s plan for you, even amid your pain.
Clarity, not Failure
It might be tempting to think this relationship “failed” you. As Christians, we believe dating is a step towards discerning marriage. Rather than viewing this as a failure, try to have the perspective that you are one step closer to your future spouse/vocation.
For better or worse, the people we are closest to teach us something about ourselves. What did this relationship teach you about yourself, about dating, about what you want (or don’t want) in a future spouse? Write it all down and remember these things the next time you enter into a relationship.
Read some books about dating and relationships. In today’s society, amidst the hookup culture, it’s hard to know how to properly date and discern a relationship in a way that honors God and upholds the dignity of those involved.
Some days, you may be tempted to vow to never fall in love again, because you never want to risk feeling the heartbreaking pain of a breakup again, because you are afraid to open up your heart again and risk it being broken. But it is on those days that you must remember to be vulnerable.