How to recover and move on after a breakup

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I often get asked by friends to speak with someone they know who has recently separated from their partner, because they’re hoping that my own story of recovery after separation and divorce is going to be encouraging and give their friend some hope that things will get better.

Because of this, I’ve journeyed with a bunch of people through separation, divorce and the relationships they become involved with in the years that follow.

When these new relationships end, as many of them do – I’ve observed a very interesting process – and that is a driving need for these women to get a sense of closure from the person they’ve been in a relationship with.

This happens especially when the person has been blindsided by the breakup, or ghosted by their ex.

So they move heaven and earth to organize to be in the same room as this person in an attempt to have a conversation about what went wrong in the relationship, why the breakup happened, and to get a sense of validation for their perceptions about the relationship itself.

The problem is, even if they somehow convince their ex to HAVE the conversation in person, there’s never any guarantee that they’ll answer any of the questions honestly.

They may not even be able to be honest with themselves about why they ended things.

And that’s assuming that they’re not trying to manipulate the situation to make themselves feel better about hurting you, or to make you feel responsible for what happened.

What’s fascinating is that if the relationship was a healthy, equally-yoked relationship with a true follower of Jesus – then you wouldn’t have been left in this situation of needing answers to begin with – because people guided by the Holy Spirit don’t inflict damage on other people.

So why do we as people, seek closure?

While you might not want to admit it, there’s a good chance you want to see your ex in person because you’re holding out hope that once they see you again they’ll magically change their mind, admit all their faults and the two of you will get back together.

Our brain is really good at glamorizing old relationships, and the ‘I need closure’ conversation is a great excuse to see them again and remind them of how good you were together.

Your feelings toward them may not have changed and you might be hopeful of a fresh start.

You might also be looking for a feeling of safety and protection from someone you used to rely on as an attempt to stay emotionally attached as a friend.

The problem is, another human is never going to be able to meet all of your emotional desires – that’s something you can only get from God.

Another reason to seek closure is as a cover for nosiness – perhaps you’re curious about what they’re up to, where they’re living, how they’re dressing, whether they’ve moved on and most importantly – if they’re a mess because they’re missing you.

You might also be looking to use closure to make your ex feel bad about causing you so much pain, or as a means of self-improvement – so you can find out what you did ‘wrong’ and fix yourself for future relationships.

The problem with that is you’re asking a person who isn’t necessarily going to give you an objective answer to your questions.

Even if you think they’re giving you honest answers, you’ll never know if it’s actually the truth.

Lots of people keep asking questions until they get the answer they want to hear, or a reinforcement of their own negative self-image, or a reminder of a previous time when they were abandoned by someone they loved – which definitely isn’t healthy for you.

It’s really important to remember that even if you don’t understand why, this person has closed the door on your relationship.

The best thing you can do for yourself, no matter how hard it is, is to honor their wishes and leave that door closed.

Don’t waste your time analyzing why they did what they did.

Don’t try and message them.

Don’t fight for their attention or their affection.

Don’t try to leave the door open for them to come back if and when they’ve had a change of heart.

The world tells us that if we want to move forward after a relationship ends, we need to get some sort of closure.

But the key, if you truly want to move on after a failed relationship, is to seek closure from God – and not your ex.

Here’s how you do that.

Step 1

The first step is to forgive the other person.

In Matthew chapter 18 verses 21 to 35 Jesus is telling a story about an unforgiving debtor.

It’s really important for us to forgive people who have sinned against us, offended us, or behaved in a way that has upset us.

It’s also really important to realize that forgiving someone is different to being reconciled to them and your ex doesn’t need to be involved in the forgiveness process – because it’s between you and God.

Your goal here is to forgive the other person, so that God will forgive you also.

This process may not be easy OR instantaneous: remember that Peter asks Jesus whether he should forgive someone who sins against him seven times, and Jesus tells him no – it needs to be seventy times seven.

So every time your ex pops into your head, forgive them again.

Step 2

The next step in getting closure is to repent of any sins you committed in that particular relationship – whether they were sins committed towards the other person, or sins committed with the other person.

A great example of this from the bible is in Psalm 51 verses 2 to 4.

This is a psalm of David, reflecting on the time Nathan the prophet showed up after David committed adultery with Bathsheba.

David asks God to wash him clean from his guilt and purify him from his sin, recognizing that his actions have been rebellious and he’s sinned against God.

In verse 3, David says that his rebellion haunts him day and night – and just like David, your unrepented sins will haunt you and prevent you from closing that chapter of your life until you repent and turn to God.

Step 3

The third and most important step in seeking closure from God is to place your trust in God’s providence and STOP LOOKING for a new relationship to help you feel better about yourself.

If being in a relationship is something that God has planned for you, then he’ll have the right person ready to show up in your life with the right timing for both of you.

By going out yourself and hunting for a new person to fill a gap you think you have, by registering on dating websites – even if they’re Christian dating websites – you’re basically saying ‘God, I want you to send the right person BUT I’m going to go looking for Plan B just in case you don’t’.

It’s a tactic of rebellion that will see you waste a HUGE amount of time on the wrong people.

You’ll have to wade through crowds who assure you that even though they’re not divorced, they’re ‘very much’ separated from their ex.

Then there are the crowd who are desperate, and the crowd who want you to sleep with them before you’re married because they have needs.

And you’ll want to dodge the narcissists and the sociopaths who are out hunting for their next victim.

The only time you should be advertising yourself anywhere is if the Holy Spirit tells you to place that listing – otherwise, you’ll expend a HEAP of energy on nothing.

And what do you do with all of that extra time now you’re not in a relationship?

You spend it getting to know God and his amazing plans for you.

Until next time, blue skies!

P.S If you found this idea interesting or useful, save it for later by pinning it to your Christian Encouragement board on Pinterest.

P.P.S. If you have a friend who might benefit from this message, make sure you take the time right now to share this with them!

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