Mentioned in this video: "A Liturgy for One Overwhelmed by Turbulent Emotion," by Sandra McCracken and Douglas McKelvey, included in Every Moment Holy, Vol. 3 by Doug McKelvey. Learn more here.


I feel like when it comes to breakups, different people experience them differently and certain breakups are easier or harder than others. So I know that there isn't a universal one-size-fits-all answer, just because there isn't a universal one-size-fits-all experience. But if watching this video, I will make an assumption that maybe going through this particular one hasn't been a walk in the park, but has been accompanied by a good amount of sorrow, pain, and even confusion. I think there's something uniquely complex about losing someone through a breakup that isn't even there when you lose someone through death. There are questions left. There are what ifs that are still left open. There are these open doors with that person still being alive and you might still seeing them and seeing them move on. And there are, did I make a mistake? There's more room for regret. There's just an open-endedness and a confusion to losing a loved one through a breakup that isn't even there for other types of griefs, like losing someone through death. And in some ways, that makes it less straightforward and more confusing to navigate.

So I do not have a comprehensive answer to how to navigate your breakup, but here are the first thoughts that come to mind. The first one is it might be worthwhile to take some time to recognize and express the different thoughts and emotions that are going through your mind and your heart. Though a breakup will overall just feel bad and painful, but often there are more details there that might be helpful to recognize. For one, there could be sadness and nostalgia. You miss those small moments, those ordinary happy moments that now remind you of what no longer is like. Even what was good back then and what was precious back then is now tainted and colored by sorrow because it no longer is your reality.

A breakup is loss. No one died, but the relationship, as you know, it died and it changed a lot. There is grief on top of that. There could be even anger and bitterness if there was hurt and sin and wrongdoing and resentment that's there. There could be shame, wondering if maybe if you are better, if you are more lovable, maybe they would've stayed. Maybe if you were better, you could have made it work out. Sometimes you want nothing to do with the person. Sometimes you would do anything to have them back in your life, and sometimes you might fluctuate between both. Sometimes you want to pretend like you're totally okay and you're fine and that you've moved on and it no longer affects you. And sometimes you're desperate to reach out to them for a second chance. Sometimes it's regret and sometimes it's anxiety. What will life be like now? What if they move on to someone else? What if I'll never be okay and happy again? Sometimes the questions are towards God, why? What are you doing here and why did you allow it to play out like this? It could be one of these or all of them.

And as you process these, you may realize that the breakup is actually about much more than the breakup itself. It has a way of surfacing struggles and insecurities that you've held onto for a lifetime that are now coming out. The person who left this relationship reminds you of all the people in your life who have made you feel unlovable to this point. The end of this relationship reminds you of all of the disappointments and losses that you've had to endure in your life and makes you question God's love and care. The breakup might have a way of exposing these things and bringing them to the surface in really painful ways, but now there's room to take this opportunity to work through those things with people who love you and with God. And so I think in the midst of this encouragement to process honestly is also this encouragement to not rush it and not put a timeline on it and to find people who won't rush it for you. I can't tell you how many people say or have heard said to them like, are you still not over it? Shouldn't you be over it by now? And I'm here to say that God has his own timeline for these things and please be okay with that.

I think the second thing that I would say is that it is normal and human and understandable for this to hurt. Investing so much time, energy, and effort into a person, sharing your greatest joys and deepest pains with that person, putting in your heart and earnest prayers to grow, to be someone who can love that person more selflessly because you want to be a blessing to them and you want to make the relationship work—everything that you've poured into this, when the relationship ends, it will hurt. And that's not something to despise or feel ashamed for. The fact that it hurts is some sort of indicator of what you put into the relationship and how much you cared and wanted to commit to seeing it through and how much you loved. And that is the blessing and the curse of love. C. S. Lewis once said, "To love at all is to be vulnerable." And what that means is that when we're vulnerable, that there are pain and agony and disappointment that can happen. One of the beliefs I had when I was going through the loss of a relationship in the past, the pain was so deep that I genuinely felt like I would never be happy again. My heart at that time felt so shattered and so sad that it felt like it would never be whole and okay. And I remember going through life pretending and trying to hold it together, but something in particular about my laughs always felt ingenuine and hollow.

After years of going through that breakup and wrestling through it with God, I still remember the first time that my laugh was full and genuine again. It caught me off guard, but I still remember it because I went through such a long time thinking that it wouldn't be again. And in that moment it reminded me of a passage in Hosea. Hosea 2:7–8, where it says, "She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now. And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold. She did not know that it was I who gave her all of those things."

The God who provided you with the relationship that at one point in your life that brought you a measure of joy, excitement, companionship, and hope, is the same God who is with you now in loss. Whatever joy and goodness you experienced in that relationship was ultimately from the One who is still with you now, still caring for you now, still attending to you now, still committed to you now. And while the love that you once enjoyed with this specific person and the expressions of it look different now, there is a love in your life that is unchanging and unfailing. He knows that it hurts. He knows that there are a lot of emotions and thoughts to process and wrestle through. He knows that it'll take time to grieve and figure out how to move forward. He knows the ways that it'll be hard to hold onto hope in it and to hold onto him.

But I pray that as you navigate this breakup, your hope won't be found in your ability to hold onto him, but in his unwavering commitment to hold onto you. And that when you experience that first genuine full-belly laugh, that you'll realize the journey to get there wasn't in your ability to hold onto him, but in his true unwavering commitment to hold onto you. There was a prayer from the book Every Moment Holy Volume III, and it's called "A Liturgy for One Overwhelmed by Turbulent Emotion," which I thought was very appropriate to this particular sharing. And one of the sections reads, "When I desperately want the discomfort to end, remind me that your eyes see farther than mine and that you'll use even this hard circumstance for the benefit of my soul. Let me remember that you'll not waste a minute of my suffering. In it, you are with me. Through it, I come to know you more. You make all things beautiful, and you do so in your time, not in mine."