I should be good at break ups by now. I have navigated the waters of more break ups than I have successful relationships. For most of us, we will break up more than we will make up. We will look back on our dating history and see we ended more things than we started because, for all the dates we go on we typically only get it “right” just one time.
Statistically speaking, we should be better at break ups than at relationships. Practice makes perfect, right? The songs on the radio are full of heartbreak. Every good plot line boasts of a break up, whether it’s a dynamic duo or some star-crossed lovers. We find break ups everywhere and yet we wish for break ups to be nowhere in sight.
So what is it about break ups that make them so incredibly hard?
We were never intended to break up.
It is no wonder they are so painful and foreign. We were never meant to break up. When we look at the way God created us, we were specifically designed for relational permanence. We were created with the thought of forever in mind.
God made us to be with him forever. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have existed in relationship forever and we were created in their image.
It was only when sin entered the picture that division became a possibility. The fall ushered in dissension and ended relationships. Ever since then we’ve been torn up over being broken up – broken up with God, with each other, and with the earth we were entrusted to take care of.
Break ups are brokenness.
They are both forms of the same word: to break. It is our very brokenness that results in break ups. Break ups are broken – broken pieces of ourselves and our relationships. And on top of that we spend time shaking the shattered pieces of someone else from our dusty clothes after we pull ourselves from the wreckage.
Break ups are messy and hard, the same way all of our other brokenness is. The reason they feel extra broken is because you’re combining forces. Double the baggage, double the mess, double the brokenness.
Break ups are full of tension.
They are the tension between excitement about future possibilities and the sadness of the end of a dream. When we enter into relationship with someone we start to dream together. When that relationship ends the dream ends with it.
A break up is a loss, and it should be mourned accordingly.
Yet, we are also exceedingly hopeful. The human spirit is faithfully resilient. We get to a point where we are hopeful about the next relationship. We begin to make a list of what we will do differently and do better and of the things we will change about ourselves during the time apart and the things we will look for in the next person.
Knowing these things won’t explain the pain away. It won’t diminish the importance of that latest relationship or the hurtful words and actions that led us to a break up in the first place. But it can help us put our feet on some solid ground during a time that can feel so shaky.
We were never meant to break up. We will never get good at it. We aren’t supposed to. So rather than play it cool and pretend it doesn’t hurt or play it emotional and sob on the couch for days, let’s rest in the fact that one day our relationships will be redeemed. One day we will find permanence. One day we will not worry about loss but rejoice in being found – I mean really found. Found by a Father who never meant for us to be apart from him or one another.
In the meantime, Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream is hope enough.
PC: Lights of Mine Photography