Walking down the aisle, you envisioned your lives together, unhindered by any thought of ever being apart. But now fond memories of the wedding day have been replaced by a concerted effort to never think of him again.
He just seemed like the man of your dreams. Saying all the right words, he stole your heart and captured your affections. But now, the man of your dreams has turned into a nightmare that you can’t believe you are still living.
You were high-school sweethearts, madly in love, and committed to building a life together. But after several years of marriage, you’re done.
How do you heal from dashed dreams, broken promises, and awful discoveries about those who you were committed to love forever? In no way, will I attempt to make this as simple as a few bullet points on a blog. As a matter of fact, my heart breaks for you as I imagine the cavern of pain, disappointment, and sadness that you’ve experienced and currently wrestle with. However, I will attempt to give you a few handles to hold onto as your heart seeks to heal in time.
1. You weren’t a fool for loving. When broken vows, false promises, lying words, and secret sins are all exposed, as one who has sincerely loved in the relationship, you can feel like a fool. Love is real. Love is honest. Love is genuine. Love is sincere. God is love. But love goes both ways in a relationship. Each person must commit themselves to love if the relationship is going to last. You did your part. He or she didn’t. You did what came natural. You opened your arms and embraced who you thought was before you. You aren’t a fool for doing so.
2. You must give yourself permission to grieve. When heartbreak takes place, it hurts. But then it continues to hurt. It appears to never stop hurting. In order to stop the hurt and avoid despair, you allow your emotions to turn anger.
It’s easier in our minds to hate someone rather than to feel hurt and sadness for what they’ve done to you. Instead of heading toward despair or choosing to be angry, allow yourself space to grieve the relationship. Experience and feel the loss. Acknowledge the pain. Confess that you miss the relationship (if this is true). Grieve with the hope that one-day you will not have to.
3. You don’t have to pretend anymore. As the lie of the relationship is exposed, recognize that you don’t have to act like you’re in a trusted relationship. If you were married and are now divorced, and kids are involved, you have to develop a rhythm of relating for the sake of the kids. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend time together, have extended conversations on the phone, or reminisce about the past. Give yourself the freedom to move on with greater hopes.
If you’re a woman who has been betrayed by a boyfriend or father, be honest with what you feel about them. However, move toward one day forgiving them for the sake of your own health. What does that mean? Seek counsel from a trusted and skilled friend, counselor or spiritual leader who can help you navigate through what forgives looks like (Proverbs 15:22). It’s hard to forgive at times. But as you relate to them, be honest (but not rude) and try not to pretend.
4. You can love again. The knee-jerk reaction after being betrayed by a painful relationship is to protect yourself by vowing to never love again. You tell yourself, “I’m never getting this close to anyone and allowing my heart to get broken like this again.” Subtly, you find yourself changing. You find yourself getting snippy, sarcastic, and even rude to keep well-meaning people from ever having the opportunity to hurt you. Listen to me! You can love again. The problem wasn’t love; you were in a relationship with someone who had unresolved issues that either you knew about and ignored, or couldn’t see.
Keep in mind that if you didn’t face your own issues and lived as an imposter, you would have hurt people too. Give yourself permission to love and be loved again. I know. This is easier said than done. But guard your heart from allowing a failed relationship to rob you of loving and being loved.
5. You can be gracious and kind. We are all flawed. We are all broken. We are all sinners. We are all promise breakers. We are all imperfect. I’m saying this not to take people off the hook from what they have done to you, but I want to remind you that people hurt people. That’s the nature of being sinfully human. But knowing this can help you be more gracious and kind to those who have offended you. As you have experienced grace and kindness from God in your imperfections and faults, give that away to those who you’re convinced don’t deserve it. I’m not saying don’t be wise and careful with them, but don’t get bitter or jaded because of what they’ve done.
6. You are enough. On the other side of pain, heartbreak and disappointment is your future. You aren’t damaged goods. You aren’t a failure. You aren’t unwanted. You aren’t someone else’s hot mess (unless it’s true that you are ;)). You are created in the image and likeness of God and are worthy of value, dignity and respect.
Surround yourself with people who are healthy and can remind you of this truth. No new man or woman makes you enough. You are enough as you are because God says you are. Fight the urge to jump into a relationship with someone to make yourself feel like enough. When the right person comes, engage the wisdom of others before stepping into a new bae moment.
Every relationship that we’ve found ourselves in throughout our lives can teach us and mature us despite the pain that they may have caused. Avoid allowing a relationship to define you. But do allow relationships to teach you.
Disclaimer– If you are a Christian and have been divorced, seek the wisdom of your church leadership as you continue to heal and perhaps one day pursue a relationship.
Please comment below and share your thoughts. If this has been helpful to you, please forward it to your family, friends, and co-workers. I’m thrilled about your journey towards healing. I’m glad to play a small part in it.