Break ups are hard. Really hard. So much so that sometimes you end up questioning the decision to break up in the first place. And then, suddenly, without meaning to, you’re standing there with a bleeding heart and a blank text message addressed to him asking the golden question: Should I get back together with him?
While I know that there isn’t one cookie cutter answer for this question, I want to share a story and some advice that helped me through the last breakup I ever walked through in hopes of shedding some light on this question…and I hope it’ll help you discern the best decision, too. 😉
One September day, I decided to join my friends for a Saturday tailgate at the very last minute. Even though I had work to do, it was a big game and didn’t I want to miss out.
I dug through my bottom drawer to find my high waisted denim shorts, reached for my new cream and crimson tank top, tossed them onto the unmade bed, and then hopped in the shower.
An hour later, I put the finishing touches of mascara on each eyelash as my roommates called up the stairs, “J, are you almost ready?!”
I threw on the outfit I had picked out and stood in front of the mirror, spending far too much time analyzing if it made me look ‘fat’. They called for me again. I gave it up, grabbed my things, and ran out the door.
The day was absolutely perfect. The sun was shining, music blasted in every direction, and campus was full of energy in anticipation of the big game.
I had every reason to be happy but at some point throughout the day, between tailgate tents and backyard barbecue, something inside of me broke. By mid afternoon, I found myself wishing I had someone special to share such a sweet memory with. The day itself, in all it’s beauty, made me miss that feeling of companionship I had just months earlier and it left me wondering if I should try to get back together with him.
Frustrated, I left the game before halftime. Once at home, I scrubbed the makeup off my face, changed into some gym shorts, and went to the campus recreational center. As I pedaled away at the stationary bike, I realized how accurate my pedaling illustrated the state of my heart.
I felt like I had been working so hard to move on but wasn’t getting anywhere…I wasn’t moving. I fought back tears and picked up my phone to dial my mom. Surely, she would know what to do.
I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling – the sting that comes on at the most unexpected times and the pain of loneliness that seems to strike without warning after someone walks out of your life (even when you’re surrounded by friends).
Maybe he recently texted you out of the blue right when you were ALMOST over him — just to remind you he exists (that’s the worst, I know). Or maybe you felt like you didn’t get closure, the silence has been deafening, and you can hardly take it anymore. Perhaps he toyed with your heart but says he’s changed or has begged for you to take him back. And maybe you feel like I did that day on that stationary bike so many years ago — confused, frustrated, lonely, and wondering…
Should I get back together with him?
I don’t know the specifics of your situation. I can’t tell you exactly what to do but I can pass on the advice my mama reminded me of over the phone that day.
She said, “I know it’s hard to move on but like I’ve always told you, don’t let your emotions make you walk back into the life of a man who walked out of yours.”
Ironically, in that very moment, I heard a loud noise and looked up from my bicycle to see what had happened. Every television in the gym was broadcasting the game and the Hoosiers had just made a big play. None other than player #91 walked across the screen and blocked the camera for a few seconds right as I looked up. I couldn’t see him under the helmet, but little did I know he would be the one to walk into my life later that year. He would be the one I’d walk down the aisle to a few years after that. Not so ironic, huh?
Maybe mom was onto something.
I think, sometimes, we give the pain of loneliness and the fear of rejection power over our decisions far too quickly. When someone we care about hurts us or leaves us, there’s a hole in our heart for a little while. When it comes to break ups, it’s so tempting to allow that very person back into our heart in an effort to fill up that hole because we believe the lie that nothing else or no one else could ever fit that space.
But that space is >broken. It isn’t something that needs to be filled or patched. It’s something that needs to be healed and mended.
Again, every situation, break up, and relationship is different and I’m not saying Mr. Perfect is going to sweep you off your feet tomorrow if you hold on a little bit longer. That’s not the point.
The point is that God is faithful and every move and change and loss in our life is because He sees the need to make room in our heart for something else – usually, Himself.
Even if I hadn’t met my husband later that year, that breakup happened because it was supposed to happen and the time I spent healing, instead of trying to fix or control it, forced me to lean on God in a way I hadn’t before. It caused me to seek God on a personal level, not just a churchy level.
So if you find yourself in one of those tough situations, trying to figure out whether or not you should salvage a relationship that has crumbled, and what God’s will is for the relationship, I want to advise you to consider a few things before you run back to the guy:
1. Are you trying to fill the hole in your heart with the guy who was there before or letting it be mended by the God who has always been there (Psalm 147:3)?
2. If you don’t have complete peace about getting back together, if you even have to ask this question and find yourself wrestling, there’s a reason you don’t have peace about it.
3. This period of life, this pain and healing, might just be life changing for you in more ways than one because if faith can move mountains, it can certainly help you move on.
Like I said, I can’t tell you what to do in your unique situation, but I can challenge you to examine your motives for getting back together and consider the amount of peace you truly have about it.
Unless you can say with absolute certainty that you have complete peace about getting back together (or dating someone in general) that you don’t have to convince yourself of or talk yourself into, then you shouldn’t step back into that relationship. If there’s not a deep-seated peace in your heart about it, there’s a reason for that. Don’t overlook it or ignore that reality when your emotions or feelings of loneliness become overwhelming. It’s not worth the cost.
So, forgive him but also give yourself permission to move on and guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).
Healing comes when we let God not just fill, but also heal, the hole that the guy left there. He not only heals the hole but also make the heart WHOLE through that healing.
Healing isn’t the easy way, though. It’s the hard way. You might get frustrated and cry and may even have to leave the big game early just to ferociously pedal away at the stationary bike. It might feel like despite your best effort, regardless of how hard you’re pedaling, you’re just not moving…not getting anywhere.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not working. That doesn’t mean God’s not there. That doesn’t mean you’re not getting stronger.
So go ahead – pedal harder, cry it out, wipe your tears, and look up. His greater plan is closer than you think, it’s right before your eyes — even if it’s hidden beneath a helmet…even if you don’t recognize it yet.