Editor’s note: The following is a report on the practical application of Louis Paul Priolo's book, Picking Up the Pieces: Recovering from Broken Relationships. (R&R Publishing, 2003 & 2012). http://www.prpbooks.com
When a romantic partner breaks up with you, the heartache can be so strong that it feels like it will never end. But the good news is that the pain will gradually subside when you follow biblical principles to fall out of love with your ex. In the process, you’ll fall more in love with God, whose love is stronger than any human being can give you.
Here’s how you can heal from a broken heart:
- Change your feelings through changing your thoughts. You can overcome the negative emotions (such as grief, loneliness, rejection, anger, bitterness, guilt, and jealousy) that may be tormenting you right now if you follow the Bible’s advice to renew your mind. Keep in mind that God sometimes allows people to experience troubling emotions to motivate them to change their thoughts, which lead to their actions and shape the course of their lives. Pray specifically about each of the negative emotions you’re feeling, asking God to show you what specific thoughts in your mind are causing you to feel that way. Then honestly evaluate the thoughts you’ve identified, to determine whether or not they reflect biblical truth. Any thought patterns that don’t line up with God’s principles are unhealthy for you, so you should change them. For example, if you see that some troubling emotions you feel are being caused by bitterness toward your ex, the Bible says to get rid of bitterness, so you should change bitter thought patterns. You can do this by refusing to dwell on unhealthy thoughts that enter your mind and then praying about them, asking the Holy Spirit to help you shift your focus to something positive that reflects biblical truth. Memorizing key Bible verses that relate to the thought patterns you want to change can also help, since the Holy Spirit will bring those memorized verses to the forefront of your mind when you pray. The more your thought patterns change over time, the more your feelings will change as a result.
- Turn to God alone for comfort. Don’t try to tranquilize your pain through alcohol or other drugs, rebound relationships with other people, eating, shopping, television, or anything else you think may comfort you. Instead, go directly to God for the help you need, since God is the only source that can truly help you.
- Focus your devotion on God. God is the real love of your life. When you’re alone romantically, you don’t need to feel lonely, because God is always with you, and His presence is more than enough to make up for the loss of your ex’s company. If you spend as much time now thinking about your ex as you did when you all were together, you should drastically limit the amount of time you spend thinking about him or her and spend the extra time in prayer with God and meditating on what He says to you through the Bible. Use this time to the fullest to develop a closer love relationship with God. As you do, the He will comfort and heal you.
- Derive your sense of security from your relationship with God. You never need to feel insecure because you don’t currently have a romantic partner, or because you’ve gone through a breakup that’s made you feel rejected. Keep in mind that your security is truly based in your relationship with God, who loves you completely and unconditionally.
- Let go of regrets. Don’t allow yourself to be tormented by regrets about the past; doing so isn’t productive and will only interfere with your healing process. Ask God to help you shift your focus from the past to healing in the present and hope for the future.
- Keep up with your daily responsibilities. No matter how you feel, don’t neglect your daily responsibilities, such as showing up at work on time. If you fulfill your responsibilities, you’ll fight back depression before it can gain a foothold in your life.
- Serve other hurting people. The suffering you’re going through after your breakup is preparing you to comfort and encourage others who are suffering. Ask God to alert you to the opportunities He brings into your life to help others with all you’ve learned from your own struggles. Then be faithful to respond to each opportunity by reaching out and helping them.
- Avoid sinful responses to rejection. Choose not to respond to the sting of romantic rejection in a sinful way, such as with bitterness, angry wrath, complaining, slander, gossip, grudges, or revenge. Check your motives when thinking about your ex, and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you away from unhealthy thoughts and toward healthy ones. Pray for your ex when you think about him or her.
- Choose kindness and forgiveness. Decide to love your ex as God wants you to love him or her. Treat your ex as you would like to be treated (with kindness). Obey God’s command to forgive your ex for however he or she has hurt you, relying on God’s help to make the choice and remain committed to that choice anytime afterward that you think about your ex.
- Deal with your own sins against your ex. Make a list of the specific ways you’ve sinned against your ex, and then confess those sins to God and to your ex (in an appropriate way, as God leads you). Repent to God and ask your ex to forgive you.
- Remove unnecessary reminders of your ex from your life. Let go of items that remind you of your former romantic relationship and make new associations with places that you and your ex used to visit together. Don’t let the fear of encountering your ex keep you from carrying on healthy activities (such as attending church and family gatherings) in your current life, however. Instead, trust God to help you gracefully deal with seeing your ex again if you encounter him or her.
- Get rid of self-pity and embrace gratitude. Stop wasting time and energy feeling sorry for yourself, and instead develop a habit of noticing the blessings God brings into your life and thanking Him for them. The more you express your gratitude, the more you’ll become aware of abundant blessings in your life.
- Turn your worries into prayers. Whenever a worrisome thought enters your mind, pray about it, trusting God to handle your concern in the best way possible.
- Grow more content with your life. Trust God to give you what’s truly best for you, and delight yourself in your relationship with God (which will last forever) more than anyone of anything else that comes and goes.
- Be patient. Over time, God will heal you completely from your heartache. You can rejoice in the knowledge that what you’re going through now will eventually produce godly character that will be valuable to you both in this life and in heaven.
Lou Priolo is director of the Center for Biblical Counseling at Eastwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Montgomery, Alabama. Lou has been a full-time biblical counselor and instructor for more than twenty years and is a fellow of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: July 2, 2012