What happens when God's plan interrupts your plan.
If you’re anything like me – you’ve got a plan… For everything.
Let's bust out the spreadsheets, shall we?
You’ve got a plan for the weekend, a plan for the year, an outfit for next Friday all lined up, where you want to be in 5, maybe 10 years, and of course, a plan for the person you want to marry.
Can someone cue the wedding bells?
Oh yes. Ladies... Whether we have a boyfriend, potential suitor, or church crush, it's not abnormal for women to have our Pinterest boards all lined up and tied in a bow. Though we haaaate to admit our minds even wander there, it's all too easy to think about what dress and suit we’re going to wear (long sleeve and open back, duh), the color scheme (off white and forrest green amirighhhhttt?), our first dance song, our maid of honor, our bridesmaids, our honeymoon location.... It’s all ready to go.
The scene is set.
Now all we need is the groom.
***Record scratch. Freeze frame.***
A romance dreamt about, but no groom? A breakup instead of a ring? Ooof. This was not in the 10-year plan. (Unless you’re a masochist… But that's beside the point.)
So what now? Do we turn from God, convinced He's leading us astray and assured that we are the wise one with the better plan? Doubt everything He’s ever revealed to us? Get mad at Him and flip our hair violently as we strut ourselves away toward another path?
Or... Do we sit in it, accept the reality, and trust Him still?
Oof. Man... Are there other options, Jess?
No. Not really.
I don’t think I ever once have had an anti-Valentine’s Day until this experience. Alas, here we are. The story I had written for myself turned out to be the exact opposite of God's plan for me... And He revealed it to me just a week before a holiday that should be filled with endless love, gallons of rosé and 85% cacao, organic, vegan, refined sugar free, fair trade chocolate… (What?? Romance may be a rollercoaster at times, but our taste in quality chocolate will remain #steadfast.)
Welcome to Heartache.
This is the worst part. Maybe you know the pain I’m talking about. That kind that cuts to core of your stomach. Your face gets hot, disbelief comes over you, and your only natural reaction is to pray to God you never feel this kind of heart ache ever again.
This pain was not in His original plan.
Alas, here it is anyway, and now we must face the daunting question: how do I heal from heartbreak without absolutely losing my mind, my faith in God and my self worth? Because that ish is real. Heartbreak can steal a lot from you - IF you let it.
I'd like to clarify that the focus of this article is not about the tragically failed romance story I experienced (though, I hope we can try to make light of it along the way together). In addition, in order to protect the reputation of my incredible friend and previous boyfriend from college, I must make it abundantly clear this article is not about him, either. Thank you for the unwavering respect and your fear of the Lord, C.
No - this article is about healing and moving on from the loss of something, anything! A relationship, a child, a future life, a school, perfect health - anything you thought God promised for you. We're going to explore God's true promises in scripture in regards to pain and healing, how we can find joy among the pain, and ultimately declare victory over these trials through the resurrecting power of Jesus.
Part I: Heartbreak.
One of the biggest things I knew I wanted in my healing process was to face it head on. The last thing I wanted was years down the road from now to be triggered at random moments by pain because I just pushed right through it all too fast.
This is a super real fear because, let’s be honest, Americans suck at grief.
We want to feel good all the time. Always chasing the next thing that will give us comfort or purpose or worth. We don’t like our current situation – we run and find a new one instead of face the problem right in front of us. We don’t want to face a hard truth about who we are or about someone we love – we distract ourselves with constant stimulation and denial. We don't let ourselves feel pain. We pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and say, "No, really, I'm good! Let's keep going!" even though our hearts are tearing at the seams begging us to stop and tend to our wounds.
News flash: if you’re always chasing what makes you comfortable or what “feels good,” you will never find true peace. Life is filled with toxicity, sin and situations we don’t want to face. Pain from these things is very, very real. But we must run to it and explore conflict as an opportunity rather than a curse. If you don’t, you will find yourself in a selfish game of, “What does this situation or person give to ME?” rather than asking yourself, “What do I have to offer to mend this situation?”
If you get anything from this article, get this: if you always run away from conflict, you will become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
In these moments of heartbreak, we tend to forget that even Jesus felt what we feel. Time and time again in the gospels, Jesus was repeatedly uncomfortable and in pain. He was willingly tempted for 40 days and 40 nights by the enemy himself. We forget that Jesus said in prayer on the night before his death by the cross, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). JESUS asked GOD to take away his uncomfortableness and pain! If God Himself in human flesh didn't WANT to feel pain, betrayal, or heartbreak, it's only natural that we do not want to either. This isn’t a game of “who can be the strongest and not feel pain ever.” This is about who can approach conflict with as much grace, humility and forgiveness as possible - the way Christ did. Life sucks sometimes. It’s crazy messy. Saviors get killed. Loyalists get cheated on. Our plan takes a curveball. We don’t know why, but we trust God when He tells us, “Follow me, my plan is better… Just you watch.”
Part II: Healing & Holding onto God’s Promises.
The verse in Luke does not end in Jesus asking to be exempt from pain... If it did, and the Father did what made Jesus comfortable, we would not have relationships with Jesus. We would not have access to Heaven. We would not know intimacy with the Holy Spirit. My friends, the verse ends with Jesus saying, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” AKA – God’s will is more important than your suffering... My suffering.
Though your heart may be hurting at this time, try remember: God’s will be done.
Though you may be tempted to feel you will never heal from whatever it is you're facing, God’s will be done.
This earthly pain is not as important as whatever God’s purpose is behind allowing it. So let us trust Him, because time after time again in the Bible when God allowed evil to occur, the good that came was ten fold better than whatever suffering was endured.
And let's be real - sometimes the hope of God’s promise isn’t revealed quickly.
You know how much I'd kill for an in on God's plot line?! I'm sure you'd quickly say the same. Even just a hint would be great, God. But no... There are stages to the grieving process; we all know this. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. We've heard it before. Sometimes they're not in this order, jumping around to-and-fro. Sometimes they all morph into one and we just want to cry and throw a tantrum and laugh all at the same time. Hey - do it. No one's judging you. I don't know what your grieving process will look like, nor do I claim I know what mine looks like, but this I can say for certain: never do we jump from wrecked to healed in one fell swoop.
Healing takes its precious, sweet time.
During break ups, it's not uncommon to hear things like, “Praise God that He saved you from this man!" or "Better to reveal someone's true character now than in marriage"... And yes - I concur. Praise God. However, these statements are merely a logical means of healing. They speak nothing to the depths of injustice and unworthiness many people never knew they could feel after being cheated on or losing someone they thought would be their spouse, their child, their family...
Logical explanations for suffering, as true as they may be, may not yet be a place where your heart can go. There is a time and place to focus on the joy of what’s to come and attempt to make sense of the pain you are experiencing. But right now, it is okay to sit with pain. It is okay to not be okay.
So - go to TJ's, dammit. Grab some gluten free cookies, a bottle of wine & call your best friends and just FEEL ALL THE FEELS. The more you push it away now the more it will ooze out all ugly and bitter later when you don't want it to. So bang that healing out right here and now, baby! It's gon' hurt but it's gon' be good in the long run.
Someone bring the Kleenex. I'll bring the Cab.
Back to Scripture.
Let's go back to the night before Jesus died in the book of Luke again. Jesus even asked for deliverance from pain. He wasn’t jumping up and down, thrilled to die so that He could establish a relationship with us through the Holy Spirit. He cried. Sweat blood in nervousness. And that’s even someone who KNEW the goodness to come! How can we expect someone in deep, agonizing pain to have joy in the hope of the future just yet, especially when they do not know it? Though we have a hope in the future, we are allowed to feel pain. As Christians, we have a unique ability to sit in between the tension of evil and knowing good is to come. It is the same tension we sit in every day as we remember we are citizens of Heaven – foreigners of this world. This citizenship does not mean we are to rush through life, but rather experience the fullness of a human life: pain, heartbreak, joy, hope and all.
We can follow Jesus’ example and ask God to heal us and take the pain away. This does not necessarily mean He will... But take solace in knowing that our pain is, bluntly put, nothing in comparison to the joyful purpose behind why God allowed this. The joy will come, but only the person who is grieving can decide when she is ready to step from her place of pain into the light of God's promises.
God never once promises that our lives will be without pain, but He promises to work all things for our good.
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Losing Your Version of the Story: Mourning the Past & the Future.
Here’s the thing about breakups: since girls are tempted to have their romantic lives planned out to a T, there comes a time that you not only have to mourn the past (the actual moments you spent with that person) but you also have to mourn what could’ve been. You have to let go of all of the promises of the life you might have had together. Growing old with that person. Loving that person through their failures, strengths and weaknesses for years to come. I urge you to not rush the mourning of this. I urge you:
Take time to bury the future life that died with your break up.
Hold up, no. Let's let this sink in.
Jesus took 3 days in the grave when He died. He could’ve raised from the dead the very next day and had the exact same effect, could he not have? Instead, He spent three days in burial place before bringing His promise of eternal life.
There is something profound that occurs in that burial time. I don’t know how long it will be for you. But there is purpose and beauty in giving whatever died it's designed time in the burial place before experiencing the redemption God has in store. You will know when it is time to step out into the light of His promises and hope & proclaim victory over this pain. Because, hey, just as a heads up - He's already proclaimed victory over your pain just as He has already proclaimed victory over the grave 2000 years ago. You need only to trust Him and say I'm ready to proclaim victory over this for myself.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Knowing Your Worth.
Lastly, there's something about us humans that makes us just love to question ourselves. So I'll help you (and myself) out and make a few things so abundantly clear...
You are worthy.
You do not deserve to be cheated on. Not once.
You are favored by the Lord. He is particularly fond of you.
It's okay to be hurt and feel the weight of heartbreak. You don't have to be perfect.
You are bold, beautiful, and beloved by the Most High King.
You are deserving of love, whether it be from a significant other or profoundly deep friendships with your brothers or sisters. You deserve a love that accepts you where you are and chooses you time and time again.
God is working things out for your good.
Tell your sisters or brothers if you are in deep pain. Don't run away from it, but take heart in knowing Jesus suffered too and He will bring abundant life from this pain you are enduring so bravely.
I love you all so, so much. If this resonated with you at all, if you're experiencing pain or loss, or have scripture to share, please don't hesitate to email me on my Contact tab on the home screen. God Bless. Xo
A note to self.
One year later...
My goodness. Praise God. Look at all He can do in only a year. Joy, forgiveness, grace, love and gratitude fill my heart. I had no idea Jesus could be so kind to me as to allow this experience. Today is so radically different than this day last year. And it's all because of You.
You are good.
Giphy. “Emma Stone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, GIPHY, 11 Apr. 2018, giphy.com/gifs/emma-stone-crazy-stupid-love-gif-2nYgHe2EDbvgc.
Nbcsnl. “Over It Drinking GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, GIPHY, 1 Feb. 2019, giphy.com/gifs/snl-saturday-night-live-drinking-3o752gZdDHjObx309W.
SquarePants, SpongeBob. “I Love You Hearts GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants - Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, GIPHY, 14 Feb. 2019, giphy.com/gifs/valentines-day-heart-spongebob-squarepants-GDwGfwoIC9Mru.