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Many years ago, I went through a breakup that left me seriously heartbroken. I had just come back from visiting my parents on a different continent and telling them that I met the woman of my dreams. I told them she was the one I was going to marry and it didn’t matter what anyone thought. I felt great about my decision and my courage! But just a few weeks after that conversation with my parents, my girlfriend and I broke up. I was embarrassed, ashamed and heartbroken. Fortunately, I bounced back and we got back together and are now happily, but not perfectly, married. I learned from that experience that breakups aren’t fatal, and I would like to share a few things that helped me bounce back from that heartbreak.

Breakups can be defining moments

“One of the best times for figuring out who you are & what you really want out of life? Right after a break-up.”

-Mandy Hale
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NLT)

This scripture teaches that sadness can have a positive influence on us. To refine means to to bring to a fine or a pure state; it means to free us from impurities. This means that when we deal with our sadness, we can actually grow. When my girlfriend and I broke up, I felt very sad. And I had to make the choice to feel my sadness instead of pretend like I was doing okay. I had to decide to allow the sadness to refine me. Up until that moment in my life, I thought the world revolved around me. I wasn’t even aware of how selfish I was and the impact it had on my dating relationship. When I sat back, reflected and allowed myself to feel the sadness, I also was able to see some of the choices I needed to take responsibility for. I knew it was time to make a change and become a different man.

Are you willing to make a choice to feel? What is your breakup revealing about your character? Are you willing to take responsibility for that part of your character and not blame, so that you can grow?

Breakups can make you bitter or better

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

I think it’s safe to say that most people start dating their partners hoping they will have a great experience. In my case, when I started dating my girlfriend after graduating college, I was convinced I made the right choice and that my girlfriend at the time was who I was supposed to marry. Then we broke up, and like the scripture above says, my hope was deferred and my heart got sick. I was tempted to get bitter at myself and at life. When you get bitter at life, you get negative, unbelieving, and hold on to past hurts. You get cynical, hopeless, and jealous of others who seem to have what you want.

But instead of getting bitter I decided to get better. I made some simple decisions that I believe made me better and eventually equipped me to win her over and get married. I decided to do three things:

  • Take responsibility for the relationship instead of blame
  • Embrace humility with friends instead of push people away with my pride
  • Learn honesty in prayer instead of avoiding my true feelings

These decisions made me better and not bitter. Which of these decisions have you made, and which do you need to work on? Do you see any bitterness in your heart? Don’t let bitterness make your heart sick. Make a decision to change and you will actually become a better person through your breakup.

Breakups can lead to your destiny

“No matter how bad you want a person, if your hearts are in two different places, you’ll have to pass and move on.”

-Alexandra Elle
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT)

This scripture calls us to work together with one mind and purpose and this applies to dating relationships. Without a sense of unity, relationships will eventually fail. Many young people are simply in love with being “in love.” They care more about having a significant other than they care about making sure they date someone who helps them fulfill their God-given destiny. If you date someone and it becomes evident that you don’t have similar spiritual goals, it’s probably best to break up and not try to force something. Although the breakup will still be hard, the pain of ending sooner is much easier to bear than the pain of staying together and attempting to start a future together. Why do I say this? At some point, charm gets old and superficial things, like being in love with being “in love,” can’t sustain a relationship through the storms of life. And the inability to handle the storms of life with your partner can be devastating.

Are you dating someone you know you shouldn’t be dating? Are you using them to cover up your insecurities and loneliness? If so, consider – are you really willing to take a gamble like that on your future?

After I went through my last break up, we were able to work things out and bounce back and get married. However, bouncing back doesn’t necessarily mean that you bounce back with the same person. Bouncing back is about learning, growing and becoming the best version of you. Then whoever you date will get the best version of you. Fight the temptation to get bitter. Decide to let your sadness refine you, become better, and focus more on who God wants you to become than just trying to find someone to be with.

Written by

Martin Oji

Martin Oji is a contributor to BACC Inspire. He works with college students and young professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Martin is the 4th best basketball player on the Inspire roster.