Breaking Up is Hard to Do at Church
“I just can’t go back“, my friend cried. “I can never show my face again.”
I looked at her, “You’re both adults, it will be fine.” She glared at me with the same look my Mom gave me when I was in trouble as a kid. It sent chills down my back. “Ok, wrong answer”, I thought.
My sweet friend was brokenhearted after the breakup an 18-month relationship with the person everyone thought she was going to marry. They were both well known at our church and whether people knew they were dating because they saw her social media posts, or because they saw them holding hands at church, the expectation was that a ring would be on her finger sometime soon. She had chosen not to attend church in the weeks that followed the breakup. Although it was a mutual parting, it was still a difficult choice for her to walk away. She was embarrassed, disappointed, and she dreaded having to see him week after week.
Now, she was looking for a new church home.
As her friend, I was concerned. I’ve seen so many people leave their home church after a breakup. The person’s intentions are normally to remove themselves from distractions and protect their hearts. Instead, I’ve seen people fall further away from God, lose their support system, and choose the things of this world to fill voids.
Sometimes you need a fresh start, maybe just a break, but remember our options need to be given to God in prayer before we make a final decision. If my friend decided to leave our church, I wanted to make sure she felt it was God’s will for her life. Depending on the severity of the situation, you should seek counsel from church leadership before you decide to leave. I’ve put together a few tips should you find yourself in this predicament.
Survival Tips After a Public Breakup at Church
1. Understand that people sometimes say dumb stuff (there’s no other way to say it).
There is so much power in the tongue; words can actually kill and destroy. Church families want to encourage, but sometimes their words end up hurting us.
Some people just don’t know what to say. It’s awkward, they think your life is over, that you cry yourself to sleep, and they want to help. Church moms think you’re dying on the inside and believe their “words of wisdom” will make it all better. In the past, strangers have approached me with crazy theories on why things didn’t work out, which has only made me feel worse. Until you can let certain things go in one ear and out the other, you have to learn how to politely excuse yourself when people are threatening your spirit. Don’t forget the enemy is still at work – even when you feel there isn’t any reason to lurk.
With that said, use discernment when people approach you. You never know who God has sent to give you just the word you need to hear.
2. Keep your distance and have boundaries.
If you’ve been dating someone for months, the thought of detangling your lives can be overwhelming. When you and your ex share the same friends, it’s difficult to decline invitations to events that he/she may be at.
You have to take some responsibility for protecting your heart. You have to say no sometimes, and that’s ok. Make space for a new beginning, no matter how scary. If you continue to fill the empty spots with old things you won’t have room for the new.
3. Everyone doesn’t need to know every thought you’re thinking.
It’s simple. Stay away from social media. No one needs to know your ex’s skeletons. You will look foolish when you make private business, public knowledge. I say journal those feelings in your notes app and if you feel the same way in 12 hours go ahead and post it. Ask yourself if God would be pleased with your words.
4. Don’t Compete.
After a breakup, someone once told me I should lose a ton of weight and get a new wardrobe so he would regret breaking up with me. I just don’t get this way of thinking. I am who I am, take the good with the bad. Is this a good time to ask God to reveal certain issues you can’t see? Yes, take care of yourself. You should do whatever you want that helps you feel your best, but don’t do it for others.
Also, competing with your ex’s new “friend” will only make you look silly. Be who God created you to be. There’s no reason to make it known that you feel you have more to offer. Let God write the story. Don’t try to manipulate circumstances to meet your expectations.
5. Choose a friend you can be honest with and accept their feedback.
This person should be a mature friend, who isn’t dramatic and has a proven track record of being level-headed. Make sure this is someone you trust. If they offer feedback about your behavior, let it sink in for a moment, consider it, and put effort into making necessary changes.
We all have friends that aren’t saved that give sound advice. However, be sure to find someone that can also offer a biblical perspective on the situation as well.
6. Stay in Pursuit of God – not in pursuit of the rebound.
The world tells us to fill the void with something or someone to forget about our ex. The truth is there’s no cure for a broken heart – except Jesus. Don’t waste your time searching to find who’s next, Jesus is waiting for you. The Bible says you can cast your cares at His feet. So leave your broken heart, your fears, and your bitterness with Him. He can handle it all.
7. Embrace Your Church Family.
I know this may seem contradictory to a few of the tips mentioned above, but believe that there’s a reason why you’re still attending your church. I know it’s hard, but let your guard down when someone wants to love on you or hear about your rough day. Delve deeper into ministry, get to know new people, share your testimony and exemplify love on a new level. There are so many people who are hurting and they need you.
So, what’s the play call?
Be available to God, the Creator of even greater things to come. He will heal you, and use you in ways you can’t even imagine.
How do/did you cope with attending the same church as your ex?