Developing Great Relationships

Love and Pain -- Relationships that Hurt



Love and Pain—Relationships that Hurt


My mother. She uses words like a chimp uses a paintbrush.

     It is not enough for my mother to be correct; she must be perfectly correct. My father could start telling a story about how they went over to my aunt’s house and found out that one of our relatives just went into the hospital for life-saving surgery. This is a serious story about a serious person having something serious done to them. So my father will start, “We went over to my sister’s house and while we eating lasagna…” “ZITI, it was ziti,” my mother would forcefully interject. Now if the story was about how much my father liked the meal and wanted me to investigate the recipe then I could see why the exact entrée was important. But it wasn’t. My father was just setting the table (so to speak) for what the main, and serious, point was. Now such exactness is important if you are intercepting Hitler’s messages and you get the name of the country wrong. “Hitler isn’t going to invade Portland, you fool, he’s going to invade Poland. Tell the convoy on their way to Maine to turn around now.” But we’re talking about a cheesy pasta dish; they’re basically the same thing anyway.

     This perfect correctness isn’t only restricted to my mother apparently. In fact, it isn’t even restricted to the female gender. I was driving with a married couple and I asked the wife how far she works from where we were currently at. She answered “ten minutes” at which the husband jumped in to set the record straight. “It is 13 minutes,” with a large emphasis on the “13.” I didn’t really care; a granularity of ten minutes would have been more than sufficient. “ten minutes,” “twenty minutes,” “thirty minutes” are all perfectly acceptable answers. That she was off by three minutes would only have mattered if I was planning on running the distance.

     But back to my mother. This correctness does not merely apply to others’ stories. Sometimes she’ll lose a detail on one of her own tales and then hack at it like she’s trying to clear briars with a machete. “We were going to a garage sale on Oak Street. No, wait a minute. Maybe it Larch Street. Was it Larch? I can’t remember. It could have been Oak. But I think that we turned onto Oak but then we went onto another street where the garage sale was.” I would interject, “Let’s just say it was Larch. And so what did you find?” Turning to my father she would ask, “Was it Oak or Larch, I can’t remember?” “Oh for crying out loud,” he would say with growing frustration, “just tell the story.” Before the story was even half over, we would all be twitchy. “It was the really large yellow house on the left. No, no, I got that mixed up. I think it was the blue house with the four kids running around.” Long… thoughtful… pause. “No, it was the yellow house. Now I remember because they had a rocking chair half-way up the driveway.” Sometime between when my jaw slightly trembled and I resigned myself to this eternity it was definitely concluded that it was the blue house.  Eventually we would discover that the hard-hitting denoumai of the entire story was that she got a package of six cloth napkins for a dollar.



Every human relationship will fail or disappoint us at some time in some way. That failure may be catastrophic or it may merely be a disappointment. But it will come. And the closer that we get to someone the more likely that we will experience one of those failures. That is one reason why some people do not want to get close to other people. It may not be because they are snobs or unfriendly. It may simply be because they do not want to be hurt.

So when we do experience one of these failures or disappointments there are several questions that we need to ask ourselves.

1)       How am I going to react to this?

·         Am I going to be vengeful? Or am I going to be gracious?

·         Am I going to become depressed? Or am I going to look to God for my encouragement?

·         Am I going to become angry and bitter? Or am I going to forgive, if necessary, and move on with my life?

·         Is my whole self-image or self-esteem going to fall to the ground crushed? Or am I going to be confident in how God still sees me?

2)       Is the friendship worth fighting for?

·         Should I make any effort at all to try and patch things up? Or is time to let go and move on?

3)       Will I turn inward and isolate myself or will I draw nearer to God and let Him work with me?

·         Does a failed relationship mean that you should, therefore, pull away from all relationships? Or does it mean that you should draw nearer to the one relationship that will never fail? And of course this is God.

4)       How will this affect my relationships with others?

·         Will I drive others crazy with my constant whining? Or will I seek out others so that I can learn from them?

·         Will I take out my frustrations on someone else? Or will I deal with my frustrations in a mature, correct manner?

·         Will I still seek to minister to others even in my own time of need?


The choice of which road you will take when a relationship fails is always up to you. God will be faithful to give you the strength to do what is right.


        In this section we are going to examine two situations in which a relationship has produced pain and hurt. In the first situation a schism has developed between two people because some conflict arose. In this case the solution is to try and resolve the conflict.

        In the second situation two people have broken apart in a way that seems irretrievable. This could be between friends, between a boyfriend and a girlfriend, or between a husband and a wife. Conflict resolution has been tried and failed and now both parties have gone their separate ways. The result is usually a lot of pain and discouragement. In this section we are going to see how to possibly heal from that break.

Resolving Conflicts

There is only one verse in the Bible where God outright calls a Christian a liar: 1 John 4:20. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Conflicts between individuals or between groups of people can tear a church or lives apart. Sometimes the conflict may start out like the explosion of a bomb. But other times it may start out as a small crack or disagreement in the relationship that is left to fester. And because sin will never go away on its own this disagreement will grow and push the combatants further and further apart. Then the unwillingness by either person to humbly and graciously resolve the conflict can become greater than the original conflict itself. Tribes or clans in parts of the world have been in conflict for centuries without even knowing why the hostility started in the first place. We can oftentimes see in the news how one group, yet again, slaughtered members of the other group. In the same way some people can go decades without talking to each other and not even have a clear recollect as to why it started. All that they are able to tell you is that it was the other person’s fault but they cannot remember why.

Why should we resolve conflicts?

Our lives have two directions: vertical and horizontal. The vertical is our relationship with God and the horizontal is our relationship with other people. We are a unity. We cannot take one aspect of our lives and put it over here and not think that it will not affect the other parts of our lives. We cannot separate the vertical from the horizontal.

Matt 22:37-40 says, “And He said to him, ‘“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”

These are the two foremost commands. Think of them as two pedestals side-by-side on which we are standing with one foot on each. The one pedestal is our love for God. The other pedestal is our love for our neighbor. If one of these pedestals crumbles, we will fall off of the other. We may wave our arms in circles trying to stand on one leg but eventually we will tire and fall off.

Many Christians spend great portions of their spiritual lives tottering and doing all that they can to keep from falling onto their faces and they do not know why. They may read their Bibles every day and serve in church and pray with enviable fervency. They may seek God for everything, but still they struggle and they cannot understand why. Maybe the answer is because, although they truly do love God, they are not talking to that one Christian in church. Or they have a big problem with a family member and are always at odds with that person. Or maybe they are rude to their neighbor or to a co-worker. Maybe there is someone that they just do not like. And so they are trying to stand on only one pedestal.

We should resolve conflicts because it will affect our entire spiritual life and eventually even our love for God will suffer.


Referring again to 1 John 4:20, if you hate your brother, God does not merely say that you will not be fully blessed or that you will have more struggles—He says that you are a liar. Why would you be a liar? It is because each person is made in the image of God and is a small reflection of who and what God is. How can we reject a person without rejecting that part of him or her that reflects God?

Also, God is love and He loves each person, Christian or not, with a tremendous and sacrificial love. On this basis God is able to command us to love all people. Matthew 5:43-47 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” So God commands us to love our neighbors but then also says that if we love God we will keep His commandments. So if we do not love someone but instead have rejected or reviled someone then how can we say that love God when we do not even do what He says?

We resolve conflicts because pretending to love God while rejecting another person is lying and deception.


        Galatians 5:14-15 says, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.” The phrase “bite and devour” has the sense of wild animals attacking one another. There is no conscience to the harshness of the attack so long as the other person is beaten. The result is that you will both be consumed or annihilated. This destruction may be emotionally, psychologically, spiritually or all of these.

        We resolve conflicts because if we do not then we have the potential of destroying ourselves.


        Galatians 5:19-21 lists the deeds of the flesh. These are thoughts or actions that result from our fallen, sinful nature and are against the desires of God. Those who practice these deeds will not please God and will not be able to practice the character of God. Of the fifteen deeds listed eight are related to our attitude towards other people. These are “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying.” All of these will either potentially cause a broken relationship or is the result of one.

        We resolve conflicts because they will prevent us from developing the character of God.


        In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is the nature of the world to be suspicious of other people. So when anyone makes a personnel sacrifice for someone it is thought to be heroic. Non-Christians can shrug off devotion and theology. They can dismiss reason and apologetics. But they are confounded by lasting, committed love for each other. Anyone can act pious. Anyone can learn some logical arguments. But it is only a genuine person who can consistently sacrifice for others.

        So when we are at work or school or in our neighborhood and we gossip or slander or envy, this allows them to think, “she’s just like the rest of us.” God wants us to stand out. He wants us to be different. He wants us to be heroic every day. Then people will know that we are different, they will know that we are Christians.

        We resolve conflicts because they will destroy our testimony to non-Christians and they will sink Christians into the same muck as everyone else.


        In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus preaches, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

        We resolve conflicts because it will suffocate our worship and because God commands it.


        1 Corinthians 20-21, 26 says, “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’… And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” This entire chapter talks about how a church is like a human body and how each member of the church is like a different part of the body. Some people may be eyes whereas others may be feet. When a real human body develops a condition where parts of the body such as the immune system attack other parts of the body then a serious crisis occurs that may cripple the person or may even result in death. In the church when one member degrades or attacks another member then the entire church will suffer. This is true even when the conflict is not directly known or seen by others. This is because conflicts go beyond the interaction between the two combatants and will affect the entire character and attitudes of both.

        We resolve conflicts because it will hinder the effectiveness of the church.

Conflicts strike at the very heart of who we think God is

In 1 John 1:6 we read, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

You may say, “I know that I don’t get along with this person, but my times in the Word have never been better, my prayer life is great, and the rest of my fellowship is good.” Guess what? God says that you are deceiving yourself.

Why is this? Many say the reason is because we cannot say that we are walking with God when we resent someone made in His image. That is valid, but I think that it goes deeper than that. It goes to the very heart of who we think that God is.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” There is a cause and effect in operation in this verse. We can even have the slightest sliver of love in our hearts only because God first loved us. Love does not flow naturally from the laws of physics or biology. It can only come from the character of God. This is true for Christians as well as for non-Christians.

But what is the opposite of this verse? Is it, “We do not love because God does not love us?” No! Think of John 3:16. The indisputable fact is that God always has and always will love us. God’s love for us can never be removed from the equation. His love for each and every one of us is eternal, unconditional, sacrificial, overflowing, and any other transcendentally wonderful word that you can think of. So the realistic opposite of this verse cannot change the notion of His first loving us.

So what is the opposite of 1 John 4:19? It would have to be, “We do not love because we do not believe that God loves us.” We will only practice godly character that we first see in God.

·         If you do not see God as being merciful to you then you will not show mercy to others.

·         If you do not see God as being gentle and sensitive to you then you will not be gentle and sensitive to others.

·         If you do not see God as being faithful to you then you will not be faithful to others.

·         If you do not see God as being concerned about time then you will be very often late to appointments.

We can apply this to any character quality that we can think of. The more that we see who and what God is, the more that we will be broken by our own sin and the more we will be like Him. Proverbs 29:19 explains, “A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for thou he understands there will be no response.” We are that slave. God never tells us to do something that He has not already done Himself nor does He ever ask us to be something that is not already an intricate part of His own character. So when God gives us a command or a precept it has already been done by Himself. Another way of phrasing this verse might be, “A slave who only hears words and does see corresponding character will not be obedient.”

Second Samuel 22:27 says, “With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure, and with the perverted Thou dost show Thyself astute.” Some versions translate “astute” as “twisted.” God is never twisted but we can make Him that way in our minds. Sometimes we twist God to make Him to match our sin and sometimes our sin results from our wrong concept of God. Either way, how we live our lives and the attitudes that we have are a reflection of how we view God.

        So if we resent or dislike someone then that grinds against the true character of God and reveals a misperception of how we think about the character of God. The closer that we get to understanding the perfection of God and His light the more broken that we must be. But we can let our sins hide in the eclipses that we perceive in His character. This is why holding resentment towards another person is such a terrible sin to God. It degrades someone made in His image and it disparages His character.


O, to dwell there above

With the saints that we love

That will be glory.

But to dwell here below

With the saints that we know

Now that’s a different story.

What does it mean to reconcile with someone?

Reconciliation means more than that our enmity is put away, but that now we are on the same side. The root idea in the Greek is a change of attitude or relationship. Whereas before we were on opposite sides, now, by mutual agreement, we are on the same side. A derivative of one of the Greek words is used in the New Testament in the restoring of a withered hand or a blind person being given sight. It is not merely that the disease is removed, but that the ravaged body is made healthy.

        Reconciliation means being willing to restore a friendship that had become a war. It means replacing the accusations and criticisms with support and encouragement. It means taking two people who were pulling in opposite directions and getting them to pull together. This takes grace.

        Reconciliation does not necessarily mean that you must both agree on every detail. It is acceptable to allow both of you to maintain differing views on some small issues. In that case you can say, “We obviously aren’t in agreement on what was said at that time. So why don’t we just chalk that one up to different recollections and leave it at that? It’s what you thought was said versus what I thought was said and since it wasn’t recorded there isn’t any point in beating this to death.”

Reconciliation does not necessarily mean that you must now be best friends and take your vacations together. There is an issue of trust, which may or may not have to be rebuilt. If I invite someone over to my house and he steals silverware out of my kitchen there may be a need for reconciliation. If that is successful I may invite him over again. But once again, he steals my silverware. This may lead to, yet another, round of reconciliation. After things are resolved I may invite him over to my house but you can be sure that I will be careful to see that he stays out of the kitchen. We may be reconciled but that does not mean that I trust him.

Trust is earned and is developed out of situations where the person proves himself to be reliable, faithful and responsible. I can be friends with someone and yet be fully cognizant of their weaknesses and limitations. This does not make the friendship any less significant. It just means that I can enjoy this person’s company while appreciating their strengthens and understanding their weaknesses.

Principles of Resolving Conflicts

1)       Communicate.

Talk to that person. Call them up. The best way is to talk to them in person. That way you can both respond immediately to what the other person is saying and not speculate over the nuance or implication of something as might happen in a letter or in an email. But if you simply cannot bring yourself to address the person directly then a short letter or email may be the way to go. However, if you do go this route then, if possible, keep it brief and leave the details to be discussed in person.

When you are going to talk to that person plan at least the beginning of what you want to say. This may only mean the first few sentences but you want to be careful not to start off on the wrong foot.

Talk to the person one-on-one. Do not bring your supporters with you and do not do this in front of others even if they know the whole story. This is the principle for any of these kind of confrontations as instructed in Matthew 18:15.

Certainly at first, only confess that which you did wrong if, in fact, you did do anything wrong. You can save reproving him until your wrongs are addressed. You do not want to give the impression that you are at this meeting only to impeach him. Rarely is a conflict 100% one person’s fault. Most of the time it is closer to 60/40 at worst. So do not sit there ready to pounce, “I guess I did this wrong, BUT YOU DID ALL OF THESE THINGS WRONG!” Do not blame-shift. This probably cannot be said too many times but even if what they did wrong was more than what you did wrong; you still need to confess whatever wrong that you might have done. However, do not confess sins that do not exist on your part simply to appease the other person or to appear to be humble. To falsely shift blame in either direction is wrong.

Express your feelings from your point-of-view. Do not say, “What you said was really offensive.” Rather say, “I was really hurt by what you said.” They may be able to argue that what they said was not offensive, but they cannot argue that it did not hurt you. They may claim that it should not have hurt you but that is a different issue and still cannot deny that you were hurt. Whether or not you are overly sensitive can be discussed but in a mature manner.

If it is the other person who is confessing then let them finish. It is important for a person to fully confess their sin. If you jump in and tell them that you forgive them or that everything is OK they will probably feel unsatisfied. Confession is rehabilitative.

Do not try to bulldoze them. You are secure in God. God knows where you have been wronged. It is not usually necessary to dump years worth of wrongs all at once without giving either of you a chance to chance your breaths. Once you have done your part, let God work on them.


2)       Understand both sides, especially the other person’s

Listen first to what the other person is saying. James 1:19 says, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” We always want to present our case first, thoroughly, and irrefutably. And when we are finished all that we want the other person to say is, “Wow, I guess that I really blew it. Can you ever forgive me?” But the Bible says that we should listen first, ponder (Proverbs 15:28a, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer”), and then speak.

Another good verse is Proverbs 18:2, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” Do you quickly jump in to defend yourself before even waiting to hear the person out? Do you blank out their words while you prepare your counterattack in your mind? Realize that rarely is everything that a person says completely wrong nor is everything that you say completely right. Do not cherish your rights or desires or expectations more than you cherish that person.

James 4:1-3 outlines why we have conflicts. “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” You can follow this passage through from verse one, which asks why we have conflicts to verse two that tells us that we crave something that we are having trouble getting and then finally to verse three, which gives the root cause. We have conflicts because we are selfish and focused only on ourselves. We are not getting something from God because our motive is to take and horde and not to share.

When we get into a conflict we should ask ourselves, “Are we having this argument because I am wanting or expecting something that I’m not getting and that is making me mad?” Ask yourself questions such as:

·         “Am I upset because I am demanding respect that I haven’t earned?”

·         “Am I mad because the schedule or plans didn’t go the way that I wanted?”

·         “Am I blowing this way out of proportion because I was inconvenienced?”

We may not be the one who is causing the brunt of the problem but we should always examine ourselves first.

Read Romans 14:15, “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.” Substitute for “food” the phrase “your reputation,” or “your rights”, or “your desires.” Do you see what God is comparing here? Do you see what God is putting on the balances here?

·         Your reputation vs. “for whom Christ died.”

·         Your rights vs. “for whom Christ died.”

·         Your desires vs. “for whom Christ died.”

When you hurt someone in this way do you see the enormous weightiness that you are placing on yourself? Do you see how much more important you are making yourself to be over God? In your arrogance you may consider yourself to be more important than this other person but the comparison is not between you and that person. God says that the comparison is between you and God. Once you realize that, all of your insolence and haughtiness should crash to the ground.


Something that may help you to understand the other person is to realize that many times when someone says or does something that hurts you they are doing it out of their own fear and their own vulnerability. People who seem to have very little say in how their own lives are going (because of severe health or financial problems for example) may overly try to control other people. This may be because they are trying to minimize even more pain in their lives. Or people who become stone cold when relationships get close might have been badly betrayed when they did become vulnerable to someone. These reasons, of course, do not make their actions right, but it may give you some insight into their motivations and you may not so much see a malicious, cruel person as much as someone who is weak and afraid.


3)       Do not vilify that person

This topic is discussed elsewhere in more detail but it is important to mention it again. It is too easy to make the other person out to be so much worse or evil than they really are just to justify you own bad attitude. You start replaying everything bad that they ever said or did and, in doing so, mound heap upon heap of blame upon them. You may even “un-forgive” things that you had previously forgiven. The result is that someone who did a few wrong things is now being turned into the anti-Christ as far as you are concerned.

Be realistic with your evaluation of that person. If you have a bad attitude then repent of it. Do you really think that your phony justification will fool God? Do not play yourself entirely as the poor, misunderstood victim who is always getting stepped on and abused and the other person as a mean-spirited villain who spends all day scheming on how to “get” you.


4)       Who initiates when sin is involved?

James 5:16, “confess your sins to one another…” If you have sinned against that person then you should go and confess your sin to him or her. This should probably only include sins that were noticeable or affected that person. This means that you do not need to confess every bad thought that you had to that person. The confession of those thoughts is between you and God.

Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Concealing your sins will cause you to not prosper on two levels. On the first level you may think that you are concealing your sins from others but you cannot conceal them from yourself. Therefore, your guilt will haunt you and to appease this guilt you may begin to justify your sin and usually the best way to do that is to further vilify the other person. Then your attitude spirals down into even more anger and blame. On the second level you can never hide your sin from God and God will not prosper someone who is in willful, continuous sin.

So if you have sinned then you must go and confess that sin to the other person because the person that will most benefit is yourself.

But suppose the other person has sinned against you. Should you wait until they come to you? Matthew 5:23-24 says that you should stop whatever you are doing and go to that person and be reconciled. How do you do this? Do you go pointing a finger and making accusations knowing that you have got one over on him? Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” This verse in Galatians gives us three instructions when approaching that person.

1)       We should be spiritual. That means that our motive must be right. We must not go in anger or judgment. We must not go with the attitude that we are going to prove that we are right and they are wrong. Instead, we must go with an attitude of restoration. That word “restore” is used elsewhere in the New Testament of mending fishing nets. The Greek word outside of the Bible is also used when a physician fixes broken bones. Both of these images carry the idea of purposeful and delicate work and that a hurried or insensitive fix may only make matters worse. So we are to go to that person with an attitude of mending or fixing what is wrong or broken in their lives by that sin. Some people say that the word “spiritual” is only referring to those who are mature Christians, but then this would restrict this verse only to those who have been Christians for a while. So if someone who is a young Christian sees someone sinning then they should not approach that person but should either ignore the situation or get someone else to do the deed. I do not agree with this. I believe that this verse is not referring so much to the overall character and experience of the person going as much as it is addressing their attitude.

2)       There must be a spirit of gentleness. Go in humility. This precludes any pointing of the finger or harsh accusations. It means not bringing up any of this person’s past failures unless it is absolutely necessary. This prohibits belittling the person (“This proves that you’ll never amount to anything!”) or making sweeping statements (“I always knew that your heart was wrong.”). It means being willing to take the time to explain the sin and give a clear example rather than just hitting him with it like a hammer.

3)       We must guard over our own thoughts and motives especially while discussing the sin with this person. They might not be very receptive to what we are saying and may be defensive or attacking. Even then we must be careful not to become frustrated or angry. Sin is always lurking at the door. Be slow to anger. Proverbs 12:16 warns, “A fool’s wrath is known at once.” Do not make everything into a major issue.

In any kind of situation like this what is important is not determining who has the greater percentage of sin or who has committed the worse sin, but to address any sin whether on my part or on his. The accusation of “Well, he sinned first” or “Her sin was much worse than mine” is not the issue. Even if I sinned 1% and he sinned 99%, I still need to confess my sin and then approach him regarding his sin.


5)       Pray for that person and for the situation.

Job was taken to task by his three friends. He was falsely accused of many things and in his time of great pain he found himself defending himself rather than receiving comfort. Then in Job 42:7-8 God reproved these three men and told them to make amends for their false impression of God. But then verse ten is curious. For all that God vindicated Job in the previous verses, it was only when Job prayed for his friends that God restored his fortunes.

To pray well for that other person is important. It demonstrates that our heart has forsaken any idea of revenge or vindication and is now more interested in seeing the person healed, if necessary, or mended. It means that we no longer want to triumph over the person as much as to see them become more like Jesus Christ. This attitude in ourselves honors and pleases God.

To put aside bad thoughts and attitudes towards that person is good, but that is not enough. God also wants us to wish well for that person. Then that is when God will truly bless us.


6)       If the situation is not resolved on the spot then pray with that person for a humble resolution.

When it appears that you have both hit a roadblock then stop where you are at in the discussion. Everything does not need to be resolved or agreed upon at that time. Points of contention can be left to be mulled over by each of you and, hopefully, the Holy Spirit will be allowed to change the mind of whomever might be stubborn or wrong.


7)       Don’t quit on that person. God did not quit on you.

It says in Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” That word “pursue” is “used in classical Greek for an animal pursuing its prey, as a hound dog on the trail of a fox—pursuing all day!”[11].

A similar verse is Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” In both of these verses is the similar idea of us making every possible effort to obtain peace even if that person does not, at first, seem willing to cooperate.

God plans, pursues, and removes every obstacle in His effort to be reconciled to us. 2 Samuel 14:14 tells us of God’s planning, “For we shall surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from him.” Ephesians 2:17 tells us of God’s pursuing, “AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR.” So if that person is important enough to God for Him to pursue peace then he or she is certainly important enough to you for you to pursue peace.

Then in Acts 16:31 in response to the question “What must I do to be saved” is “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” This shows how easy it is to be saved; all that you have to do is believe. You do not have to go anywhere. You do not have to go on a quest to find God. He is right there waiting outside of the door. So do not make yourself difficult to find when that person wants to make peace with you. Do not force them to leave numerous messages on your answering machine. Be available when that person is ready to humble himself.

Now, of course, there is a time when it is obvious that trying to reconcile with that person is like running your head into a brick wall and so it is time to stop. Even God does not pursue us forever. Sometimes it may be necessary to stop for a while and give the person a little breathing room and try slowly to work things out. However, there are other times when it is just best to stop all together and let God deal with him. But in either case you should be able to say that you had tried your best to work things out.


It is crucial that we be reconciled to each other. All too often the church has more conflicts and people disliking each other than most workplaces and neighborhoods. This should not be. Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be reconciled to Him and then brought us into His family, the church. This is a family where we call each other brothers and sisters and as it says in Colossians 2:2 we should be “knit together in love.” Yet the reality all too often is that we bite each other and gossip about others and are glad when someone that we do not care for does poorly. Instead of welcoming others we form cliques. Instead of supporting and encouraging others we only look out for ourselves. Instead of creating a fortress of protection against the world we toss the wounded and different out over the wall.

We hold grudges and turn our face from other Christians because we do not realize how much this is hurting ourselves, how much it is hurting the church, and how much it is grieving God. Can we say with Paul “Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Corinthians 11:29). Or do we say, “Whoever is weak do not let him slow me down. Whoever is in sin simply proves just how much better of a Christian I am than they are.”


As always, our most perfect example of how to resolve a conflict is God. From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 the Bible is all about God reconciling us to Himself. He is our model.

In the first half of Isaiah chapter one God tells the people how much they have sinned. Then in verse 18 He says, “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’” When we have sinned against God He tells us to 1) come together, 2) talk together, 3) reason together, and 4) when we do all of that we will be cleansed and our relationship will be restored. From verse four: “Even though you have acted corruptly, let’s talk.” From verse four again: “Even though you have despised Me, let’s talk.” From verse five: “Even though you have rebelled against Me, let’s talk.” All throughout God is saying, “Look, no matter how bad you are, no matter what you have thought about Me, and no matter how badly you have treated Me; let’s talk.”

·         You may say, “But this person is a real jerk.” “Though your sins are as scarlet, come now, and let us reason together.”

·         You may say, “But this person said some awful things to me.” “Though your sins are as scarlet, come now, and let us reason together.”

·         You may say, “But he hurt me very deeply. You don’t know how awful it was.” “Though your sins are as scarlet, come now, and let us reason together.”

God is the God of new beginnings.


In Genesis 31 we read the story where Jacob had worked for 20 years for Laban and in exchange married his two daughters and was given much livestock. However, Laban had cheated him and in verse two we see that Laban was growing hostile towards Jacob. So Jacob was told by God to leave and go back to his land. So he left but without telling Laban. However, one of his wives, Rachael, stole Laban’s household idols. This was a significant act because Laban might have felt that his divine protection had been taken and also it was thought that whoever possessed the household idols had a strong claim to the right of the inheritance.[12] So when Laban found out that his idols were stolen and that Jacob had fled he pursued them and caught up with them a week later. Laban was probably predisposed to treating Jacob harshly so God had to warn Laban to deal rightly with Jacob (verse 24). So with the fear of God in his heart it is interesting to note how Laban approached Jacob in verses 26-30. He confronts Jacob head-on and presents his case. Laban tells Jacob what he had done wrong, why it was wrong, how he had been hurt, and then gave Jacob a chance to respond. Jacob’s response was typical for why many people do the things that they do—“I was afraid.” So many times people do what they do not because they are malicious or evil but because they are afraid. Once we can understand this we will not be as likely to quickly condemn and despise before talking to them.

        Jacob then essentially answered that if Laban can prove his case then Jacob would ensure that all that was done wrong would be made right. Jacob did not just jump out and defend himself nor did he ignore Laban’s contentions and attack him in return. Jacob took what Laban said seriously and dealt with it. When Laban failed to prove his accusations Jacob then presented his case.

        Ultimately, they both had to realize that each had done wrong and so they made an agreement that 1) God would be their witness and arbitrator and 2) that neither would harm the other. This second part applied today might mean that we will not gossip about or malign the other person, we will not bring up this incident again to attack the other person, or that we will ignore or treat the other person badly.

        The final result was a sense of peace for both men. Jacob had a feast and Laban kissed his family. In the same way one of the final results of our resolution of conflicts should be a sense of peace and rejoicing. This is good for the relationship, it is good for the other person, and it is good for our own emotional and spiritual frame of mind.


There is one more example of the effects of conflict resolution that we should look at. Paul and Barnabas had spent a lot of time together evangelizing and ministering to the churches. They were in Antioch when we read starting in Acts 15:36, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ And Barnabas was desirous of taking John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.”

When Paul and his companions were in Perga Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. Mark was Barnabas’ cousin and apparently had rejoined the group. Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance whereas Paul thought that he had shown himself to be unfaithful. This was a case of whether to put individuals first or to put the project or mission first. Barnabas leaned towards the first whereas Paul chose the second. The result was a “sharp disagreement.” The Greek word for this comes from the idea of sharpening a blade.[13] It has the sense of irritation[14] and is a strong word. As a result of this quarrel over Mark, Paul and Barnabas split ways. Here were two close companions who broke up over a third person.

But Paul was not one to hold grudges. We do not see the actual reconciliation but we can see the results of it. In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul says, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” Paul who once had a big disagreement because he did not want Mark tagging along now desires his company. He saw Mark as vitality useful.

Then in 1 Peter 5:13 Paul refers to Mark as “my son, Mark.” This is a term of deep affection.

If Paul had been stubborn he would have lost Mark’s service and companionship forever. Instead, God was glorified and the Gospel was furthered. How much might any of us lose because we are stubborn and easily toss old friends aside?

God can heal pain. He can restore broken relationships. God is the God of new beginnings. He can replace sharp disagreements with deep affection. The question is never whether God will give us the strength or grace to do; it is whether we will be humble enough to take it.


You are being kind if you:

·         Anticipate a friend’s need and can provide a timely fulfillment

·         Are quick with a complimentary or encouraging word

·         Approach the lonely

·         Provide for the poor

·         Can overlook a deformity or disfigurement and treat a person with the value that God sees in them

·         Have compassion for animals

·         Include the outcast, shunned, or ignored in your conversations and activities

·         Know how to accept gifts gracefully in a way that makes the giver feel good

·         Make requests (“Can you please pass the salt”) rather than demands (“Give me the salt”)

·         Can serve others without expecting or getting anything in return


How to Heal from a Broken Relationship

·         You’re in the midst of a great dating situation and you think that everything is going really well and that maybe “this is the one” when the other person tells you that he does not think that it is working out and that you should not see each other any more.


You are left sick with sorrow. You feel like a 20-foot boa constrictor snake is wrapped around your chest. Three seconds does not go by during the day when you are not thinking about the situation and every time that you do you feel weak.


·         You are married and those little disagreements gradually turn into long, intense arguments. Criticism is frequent and personal and what was once the love of your life has become “sleeping with the enemy.”


You are angry. You are angry with that person—“How could they treat me like that?” You are possibly angry with God—“Couldn’t You have worked this out?” And you are angry with yourself—“How could I have been so stupid to marry a jerk like that?”


·         You are good friends with someone for quite a while and you have both shared a lot of intimate feelings and thoughts. But now the other person seems to be drifting away. She is calling you up less and finding more excuses not to get together. Eventually you find out that she has made a new “best friend” whom she is spending all of this time with.


You are left feeling that you cannot trust anyone anymore. From now on you are going to make other people initiate the friendship because you want to guarantee that they are truly interested in you and not just returning attention that you are first showing to them.


Most, if not all of us, have gone through situations like these or, at least, something similar. And we have felt as though our emotions, our opinions, and our dignity were thrown to the floor and violently rubbed into the dirt by someone’s shoe. Or that they have been tightly twisted like a wet rag until all of the moisture has been wrung out of them and now they are left dry and deformed. So what do we do? Where do we go from here?

Earlier in this book we saw how God created us to have relationships. We saw how every aspect of what we are all point to fulfilling this need and goal. So why was looking at that important? What does that have to do with healing a broken relationship in my own life? It is because we must understand that who and what we are created as centers around that pivotal point of relationships. And so when a relationship fails it affects all of what we are. Our emotions may run out of control. Our thoughts may become obsessed. Our physical being may become weak. Our dignity either becomes tattered or must be vigorously defended. Our spiritual life may be severely challenged with doubts of God’s love or doubts of God Himself. And how we deal with this may either strengthen us or ruin our lives for years.

But to some, asking how “we” may deal with this may beg the question. After all, God is loving and God is sovereign, so why should “we” have to get involved at all? Why does not God just handle it? Why does not God take away the pain and anguish? He knows how weak and confused we are right now. Why did God even allow this to happen in the first place?

The answer to these questions is no simple task and the true answers will vary for each individual person. We can get a general answer but to do that we have to go back to the first few chapters of Genesis. In there God created a perfect world where all was in harmony and there was no sin. God had a choice. The world could either stay that way forever or it could fall. This choice was not out of God’s hands. God is not the author of sin but He did allow sin to enter the world and the result was The Fall of Adam and Eve. This occurred because God permitted two things: 1) that we might have free choice and 2) that there might be an opportunity for us to choose sin. He did the second by planting the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and allowing it to be accessible. The result was that we took the opportunity and sin entered the universe. The relationship with God was severed. We now, on our own, could never approach God again nor could we have even the faintest of relationships with Him. We were lost. We were corrupted. Even God Himself had no quick and simple solution. We seemed to be doomed. But that did not mean that God had no solution at all.

That solution was for God to incarnate as a man, live without sin among us, and then be crucified on a cross to pay for the sins of all of mankind. God knew before Creation that this would be the only solution to the problem of sin’s separation of Himself and man and yet He still allowed the choice of sin. This decision meant the alienation of all mankind and the potential of guilt, loneliness, fear, pain, meaninglessness, chaos, and horror for all people who would ever live. It also guaranteed the greatest anguish possible for God Himself when He had to become the sins of all people and suffer the infinite wrath of a holy and just Father.

So, again, why is this important and what does this have to do with healing broken relationships? It is because the choice of sinning was better than the non-choice of forced perfection. It is because the possibility of redemption is greater than the state of a painless creation. It is because the triumph of good over evil is better than the absence of evil all together. So what does this mean to us? It means that God, in a wonderful wisdom that surpasses any of our comprehension, has deemed it better for us to experience sin, pain, and suffering followed by the triumph of grace than to lead a carefree, painless life without grace, without mercy, and without redemption. So in a way that we might never understand this side of Heaven, that torturous breakup that crushes us with self-doubt and sinks us into a quicksand of misery may be better for us than having no problem relationships at all. God is not in the business of making the Christian life carefree; He is in the business of making the Christian more like Himself. He does not promise to remove the mountains as we skip through life on a cobbled path; instead He has promised to give us the strength to climb over those mountains as we encounter them throughout our lives.

That does not mean that God caused the breakup. It does not mean that He enjoys seeing you in anguish. And it certainly does not mean that you should go around destroying relationships just so that you can experience grace and redemption. But what it does mean is that this breakup can be used in your life to make you more like the person that God wants you to be.


        We are going to look at some right attitudes that we need in order to be healed and some wrong attitudes that will keep the blood trickling from the wound. Finally we will see that we have hope. Though it may seem otherwise at the time God never abandoned us; He never left us twisting; our cries never echoed unheard in the darkness.

Wanting to be healed

        The key comes back to us. What do we really want? God will give us the strength to do what is right and He will heal us but He will not heal us against our will. Now that may sound strange. Why would anyone not want to be healed? Why would someone want to stay in a state of turmoil and agony? There can actually be a number of reasons.

        Victimization. Sometimes a person enjoys playing the victim. Since they may feel that they never do anything spectacular enough to draw fame to themselves then maybe people will center on them because they have sank so low. People notice extremes. The average, mundane life does not distinguish itself from others. But a life either of prominence and glory or of pain and oppression does draw onlookers. Most people cannot achieve the first so only by the second can they occasionally stand out. It is an attitude of preferring to writhe in agony surrounded by a crowd than to melt away in obscurity.

        Needing to feel something. Occasionally someone welcomes the negative emotions. Feeling bad is oftentimes better then feeling numb. Of course, they would prefer feeling well but that might take too much work. It is easier to sink than to climb. That leads to the next possible reason for not wanting to be healed.

        Unmotivated. Some people do not want to make to effort to feel better. Sin is almost always easier than righteousness. If that were not true then we would certainly sin less. But to do what is right we have to battle against our three biggest adversaries: the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16). We must choose to do what is right. We will never drift into obedience. Hosea 6:3a says, “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.” Choosing to do what is right is like rowing a boat upstream, if we do not press forward then we will drift backwards.

There are a number of reasons as to why someone would not want to make an effort to be better. They might feel defeated and so do not believe that they will ever triumph in anything and so why bother? They might feel abandoned by God and by others and so feel too puny and alone to tackle such a large problem. But, of course, all of this is wrong. There are no defeated people in the Kingdom of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” There are three things to notice in this verse. 1) The triumph comes from God. Of course we must participate and cooperate but we do not have to manufacture it on our own. 2) It is God who leads us. We do not have to first venture out into dark waters alone while God urges us from behind. 3) He always leads us. This is when we are doing well and when we are struggling tremendously. Our triumphs do not have to be rare and isolated; they can be continuous.

        Revenge. Sometimes a person does not want to let the other person off of the hook that quickly or easily. She may want him to see how badly she has been hurt. Or she may want to exact some kind of revenge. Or she wants to shake her fist at God a few more times. By starting the process of healing she may realize that forgiveness and mercy may be part of that process and she does not really want to forgive right now since it will quench any desires of revenge.

        Depression. Of course a person in this situation may simply be depressed. She may be morose and unable to do anything other than struggle through each of the day’s activities. Trying to do something new and different may be too much to handle.


        Usually the first step to healing is an easy one. That is acknowledging that there is a problem. The pain, the heartbreak, and the confusion are usually too obvious to deny. But sometimes the second step can prove to be a difficult one and that is being willing to want to make an effort to be healed. You must be willing to realize that this healing may take a long time and it may require a lot of effort. You may not have been responsible for the breakup but you are responsible for how you response to it. It may require forgiving where forgiveness needs to be given and repenting where repentance needs to be done. Sometimes these last two may prove to be a formidable barrier. But, if the willingness to do what is right does not exist in the beginning of the process, it may become stronger as time goes on. This is not like a NASCAR race where everything must be in place and ready to go at the very beginning. God gives us the leeway to grow and change. Oftentimes it is not where we are at but where we are going that matters the most.

        In John 5:6 Jesus addresses a sick man, “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, ‘Do you wish to get well?’” This may seem rather obvious—of course he wanted to get well. But that is the same question that Jesus asks us when we have been shattered by a broken relationship, “Do you wish to get well?”

God’s healing

        That God will give the grace needed to heal is not in dispute. We can easily see in Scripture many places where God has promised healing.

        Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” The Hebrew word “binds” is the same word used to bind or wrap a turban around your head. In the same sense God meticulously wraps up our emotional wounds and protects them and heals them.

        Isaiah 57:15, “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” God is not confounded by the depth of our sorrow. He is not rendered ineffective because our pain is great. Our tragedies do not perplex Him. It is because God is great that we can be healed.

        Isaiah 61:1-4, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” This verse on healing begins with the Trinity. It speaks of “The Spirit of the Lord GOD” who would be the Holy Spirit, “the LORD” who is the Father, and “me” who is Jesus Christ. We know the last one to be true because in Luke 4:18 Jesus reads this passage in reference to Himself. So we see that healing involves the entire Trinity; it commands the entire attention, grace, and power of all of God Himself.

        Jesus came not to gather the strong, the influential, or the ambitious. He was anointed to come to the afflicted. The word “anointed” in the Hebrew is not the word normally used with the anointing of kings, priests, and prophets but is a word that means “to pour over; …to overflow with… seems also to imply a penetrating power.”.[15] When God heals He does not merely treat the symptoms but He overflows our wound with grace and He penetrates right to the deepest part of the hurt.

        The “brokenhearted” has the idea of a ship in a storm that is being battered to pieces. God lovingly takes those shattered pieces, puts them back together, and wraps them until we are whole again.

        A captive is someone who has been forcibly removed from the comfort of their surroundings and brought into a hostile environment. A broken relationship can be like that. We were in a comfortable situation when suddenly it has been destroyed and we are now being yanked every which way by our emotions. We now cannot sleep, we cannot eat, we feel sick, our mind is confused, and we are reeling. God can free us from the horror of that and return us to normalcy. We can be comfortable again even though that person is now gone. The doors of our depression or anger are open and we can be free to enjoy life.

        God will comfort, sympathize, and console those who mourn. This word “mourn” “is used of the loud wailing customary in the East at the time of burial and for thirty days after, during which they abstained from the ordinary occupations and comforts of life.”.[16] In death, when all seems ripped away and we feel that life will never be the same God is there.

        The word “garland” (or beauty in some translations) and the word “ashes” in the Hebrew differ only by one letter. The concept that God may be conveying here by choosing these particular words is that the part of our life which may seem burnt and destroyed and flying away with even the slightest wind may be turned into something full of splendor and beauty without needing a great deal of change. Hope may not require years of counseling or a great cutting away of who we are. It may only need a small change of attitude or perspective or a fuller understanding of who God is. Healing does not have to be radical; sometimes even the subtlest change can make a world of difference.

        God can give us gladness and joy instead of sorrow. He does not just give us praise but He covers us with praise instead of being weak and fainting. And He will strengthen us like oaks or terebinths with deep roots so that we will be better able to withstand and cope with any further trials.

        Finally, where our lives were ruined and devastated, when we felt desolate, God will rebuild our lives and raise us up and we will be more splendid than before. And then God will be glorified because it will be clear that the work was accomplished by Him.


        Of course we can look at scripture after scripture of how God can heal us when we are brokenhearted, but when we are in the midst of such a trial sometimes that healing looks very far away. These verses are nice but I am hurting, I am in pain, I am sick with sorrow. Are they nothing more than nice platitudes or can they really make a difference where I am at now? The answer is that God’s promises are always backed by God’s grace and power and with a resounding “yes” they can make a big difference in your life. We are going to look at how in the following sections.


        What is crucial is not God’s willingness to heal but our willingness to cooperate and allow that healing to occur. A physical trauma can wound us brutally and it may take a long time to even partially recover. But soon after the initial impact the body will start to heal itself and, unless there is an infection, it will generally continue to improve until as close to a full restoration is completed. A traumatic emotional event can also cut us deeply. But soon after the initial shock the mind and spirit will start to heal themselves in order to bring about as complete a healing as possible. But all too often we can use a psychological hammer to continue to beat ourselves well beyond the initial trauma. This will not only prevent us from beginning the process of healing but may, in fact, deepen the hurt even more.

        Therefore, how we react to a broken relationship is crucial. We are first going to look at what a broken relationship can do to us and some of the improper ways that we can respond.

What a broken relationship can do to us

        The loss of a relationship can devastate us. Our emotions can make us feel as though someone is digging through our insides with a garden tool. What are some of the emotions or attitudes that we can have after a breakup?

        Rejection. This is nearly universal. Even if we are the one who initiated the breakup we can still have a sense of rejection. We can easily question ourselves—“Is there something wrong with me?” A profound sense of rejection can sink us lower than we ever thought possible.

Someone who has a strong self-image will not necessary struggle quite as badly as someone who has experienced frequent rejection and has an unhealthy self-image. A common symptom of rejection may be anger or depression.

        When we are suffering with rejection we should, as in all things, look first to God. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” We must find comfort in knowing that God does not accept us because of what we do (“who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”—2 Timothy 1:9) or because of how we look (“Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”—1 Samuel 16:7) or because of what we have (“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’”—2 Corinthians 12:9) but because of His grace alone. Just as we cannot do anything to win God’s grace there is nothing that we can do to lose it also. Deuteronomy 31:6 reassures us, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

        We can read in the Scriptures how many of God’s people failed, and some astonishingly, and yet how God stayed faithful.

        Once we are convinced of God’s faithfulness to us regardless of how other people treat us, this will help greatly in overcoming a deep sense of rejection.

        Talking to close friends or spiritual leaders who know you can also benefit you greatly. Oftentimes your sense of rejection has developed because of an exaggerated evaluation of what really happened. Another person may be able to give you a proper perspective.

        Feeling unlovable. We can start by feeling unlovable to that one person. Then it expands to feeling unlovable to all people. And finally we cannot believe that even God can love us. We feel that we are not good enough for anyone.

We can become obsessed with comparing ourselves to everyone else and consistently finding ourselves deficient. We are almost trying to feel inferior. One person, who was older and never married, would sit in meetings at work and count what percentage of people were married to those who were not. Since most older people either are or have been married this was only further proof to him that he was far below average in desirability.

Once again we need to look to God. God tells us in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” In Ephesians 2:4 we can read, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” And perhaps one of the greatest verses proving God’s love for us—Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Of course we may be convinced of God’s love for us but still be depressed thinking that nobody else could ever love us. Then we must realize that the deepest attractiveness that a person can have is a cheerful, loving, and godly spirit. This is what 1 Peter 3:3-4 is all about—“And let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” The most beautiful person will be the one who radiates the love of God. And since this is true it is also true that you can grow more attractive each and every day of your life no matter how old you become as you are changed more and more into the character of Jesus Christ.

        Loss of trust. You have probably shared many intimate and personal feelings and stories with that other person. You may feel that he stole away from you valuable months, maybe even years, when you could have been with the one who was really meant for you. Now you have to start all over again. But at this point you are even wondering if it is worth it. You may think, “I’ll never trust anyone ever again.” And this loss of trust only deepens the more it happens. This first time that a relationship falls apart you may excuse it away by thinking that he was just a jerk. But after this has happened a number of times you can easily think that maybe everyone is like this. However, this is not true.

        Yes, everyone will let you down at some point or another. Only God can claim that He will never disappoint us (Romans 10:11). This is because only God will love us with a pure and unconditional love. Only God knows every desire of our heart. And only God knows what is the best for us. But God does work through people and if we want to experience all of God’s blessings then we will have to have close, working relationships with other people. You will have to learn to expect that people will fail you at times just as you have disappointed other people at times also. But even still, many people have good hearts and only want to do the best for you.

        You may have to start slowly but you can learn to trust people again. But you must be careful not to expect a perfect record from everyone at every time or else you will give up completely. Allow others to fail just as you expect others to let you fail.

        Loss of God’s leading and direction. You may have believed that you knew God’s will for your life concerning this person. You may have felt that it just seemed “right.” Now you do not know what to think about God’s plans for your life. You may begin to doubt if you ever correctly recognized God’s will in anything.

        Many of the Bible’s greatest heroes misunderstood God’s will. When Jesus was being betrayed by Judas, Peter attacked the crowd with his sword not recognizing Jesus’ many previous references to His necessary death. Abraham was told to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldeans and go to the land of Canaan. He did, but then he kept going and wound up in Egypt for a while.

        If your confidence in knowing God’s leading in your life has been shaken then go back to the basics and study how God leads people. Maybe you have been over emphasizing signs. Maybe you were taking every little thing that went positively and used that as a sign from God that this was His will. What you may not have realized is that you were filtering and coloring those signs through your own wishes. I knew one woman who thought that she and this other guy were destined for each other because he said hello to her at a party. When she found out a few weeks later that he was engaged to someone else she was confused.

        Maybe you were over emphasizing your emotions. Just because you felt good around him does not mean that it was God’s will for marriage. A sense of “But we seemed made for each other” does not mean that it was a match made in Heaven.

        Maybe one evening you blindly opened up your Bible, pointed your finger to a verse and then used it to somehow confirm that “this is the one.” Believe me, God’s will is usually not that easily determined.

        There are many ways that you can interrupt or spin God’s will to match what you want. However, this does not mean that you have completely lost all ability to hear God’s voice. What it may simply mean is that you got overly caught up in just this one situation.

        Did you want to regain your confidence in knowing God’s will? Then spent a lot of time each day in prayer, in reading and studying God’s word, in worship, and in meditating. Also, do not neglect going to church, from serving, and from fellowshipping with others. These are the things that will bring God close to your heart.

        Feeling of having been taken advantage of. You gave your time, your emotions, your hopes, and possibly even your love to this person and now he has jettisoned you. And what do you have to show for it? Most of the time you feel that you are left empty handed and wondering why you are such a giving person. But in most relationships both sides have given to the other. In this breakup both sides have lost something; you are not the only one. But during and through the relationship both of you have gained something also. It is futile to try and determine who gave the most or who lost the most. The relationship is over. It is time to learn what you can from it and move on.

        In some cases you may have given far more to the relationship. Maybe you were dumped for someone else and now he is enjoying someone else’s company and you are alone. Even then, if you try and get your pound of flesh from him it will only result in your own destruction. Do what is right, obey God, and He will bless you. The issue is not what he is doing but what you are doing. In John 21 Peter became overly concerned about what another one of the disciples was doing. He asked, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus’ rebuke in verse 21 was, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” In the same way after a broken relationship we may ask, “Lord, look how much I gave and I wound up empty and hurt and he is doing well. What are you going to do about it?” I believe that Jesus’ response would be the same, “If I allow him to be blessed , what is that to you? You follow Me!”

        Denial. There are two major ways that you can be in denial. One is to deny that the break up ever occurred. You may insist in your mind that he really did not mean it; that he was crazed at the time and will shortly regain his senses. This is dangerous because it prevents you from dealing honestly with the situation and moving on. I knew one person who, after being told that there was no interest, still hung on for years thinking that God will miraculously change his heart. She believed that God told her (supposedly) that this was His choice for her. She reasoned, therefore, that God would do whatever was necessary to bring him around to his destiny. First of all, we must be careful when it comes to God speaking to us regarding our destiny with another person. Can we be absolutely positive that it was not God speaking to us but simply our own wishes and desires? Secondly, even if this was God’s choice the Bible nowhere states that God will force someone to become interested in another person.

        If one person has ended a relationship then it is reasonable to wait for a short time to see if maybe he did make a mistake. Maybe he had some undue pressure on him from his job or school and felt a bit overwhelmed at the time and so made a foolish and rash decision. Or maybe he got a sudden case of cold feet but then quickly overcame it. Or maybe someone gave him some false information about you that he acted too quickly on but then discovered that it was wrong information. There can be a number of reasons as to why someone may break up with you but then realize his folly and want to restore the relationship. But this waiting period should be short. How long that waiting period should last may depend on how long you were together and how prone he is to this sort of behavior. But it should not go on for months. At some point you need to realize that it is indeed over and you need to heal.

        The second major point of denial is to deny the pain. As a Christian, especially, you may think that it is more spiritual to simply “Praise God” for His perfect will in delivering you out of a potentially bad situation and cheerfully move on. There is nothing unspiritual about feeling hurt and pain. Anguish in not necessarily wrong. Sorrow is not necessarily a punishment from God. The first step to healing is to be able to say “I hurt.”

        Desperation. We have just been given the boot and now our self-esteem is in the dumps. A sense of desperation may be especially acute if the other person has already started dating or is marrying someone else. We may then think that the quickest way to recovery is to get someone else to fill that spot. This is rarely a good idea. We first need to heal and put away any wrong attitudes from that broken relationship. If you think that your “ex” was poison and you have not forgiven him then you will bring that poison into your next relationship.

        Desperation will also lead to making foolish mistakes. You want or “need” someone quickly and so you will lower your standards just to broaden the selection process. And so you will settle for a non-Christian (“he does go to church!”), or you propose to someone that you hardly know, or you become a “wolf” and hit on practically any woman that you meet. You have become less interested in meeting the right person as in just meeting someone at all no matter what the cost.

        It is important here to step back and take a deep breath. Get yourself together first and then you will be ready to make wise decisions. If you are still reeling from that previous relationship then a new one will most likely only add to the chaos. You are not yet who you really are; you are still someone who is in pain and might be confused as to how to handle the next relationship. It is better to wait and to be able to present the best person that you can be to someone new.


        For any of these above attitudes, if you are struggling deeply with them and they are profoundly affecting your life then you should seek Christian counseling. This is especially true if you have been wrestling with them for a long time.

Improper ways to respond to a broken relationship

Anger and Frustration

Why might you feel anger over a broken relationship? It might be because you feel that you have just been treated wrongly and that you deserve to be treated better than that. It might be because you feel that you have invested a lot of time and emotion into that relationship and now it appears that it was all a waste of time. It might be because you have had your hopes and dreams shattered into millions of shards of glass.  And sometimes it might be because it helps you to avoid self-examination.

So now you are angry. But anger must have an outlet and probably that other person is out of your life or is not around enough to absorb all of your scorching rays. So your anger starts hitting other members of your family or friends or people at church or at work.

How might this anger be manifested?

·         You do not take anything that is said or done in a good way; everything is quickly analyzed to be an attack on you. An innocent remark that a few months ago would have been overlooked now conjures up the thought, “What is that supposed to mean?”

·         You take less time to consider a response to someone; you’re more likely to snap back. This may manifest itself in explosive outbursts.

·         Unrealistic expectations may be applied to people as to how they should act around you or what they should say. There is a sense of demand or obligation. And if these expectations are not met then you become highly critical of that person, which may manifest itself through facial expressions or gestures or unseemly words.

·         You may find yourself being more aggressive and confrontational.

·         And you may be more frustrated. Catching a red light can always be annoying; now it is a catastrophe possibly invoking many curses. The slightest annoyance produces a gnashing of teeth or a clenching of the jaw. And if anything does not go perfectly well then its proof that the whole world is against you.


Something bad happened to you (as you see it) and now you are taking it out on everyone else. That one relationship has adversely affected all of your other relationships.

        There is, of course, a righteous anger that is aimed at sin. This anger is generally short-lived. The anger that we are dealing with here exists more because someone has hurt us rather than because some terrible sin has occurred. In their hurting us they may have sinned but this is not really why we are angry and we need to be careful not to deceive ourselves by justifying our anger because there might have been some sin involved. The truth is that we are mad because a key relationship has been severed.

The Bible clearly speaks about this wrong kind of anger. Notice what it says the solution is.

·         Psalm 37:8, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.”

·         Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.”

·         Colossians 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

The Biblical injunction is clear. Simply stop being angry. Learn to hold your tongue. And when your thoughts are becoming critical towards another person learn to ask yourself, “What am I doing? I’ve got to stop this.”

The anger that we are talking about is one that was created by a broken relationship and is not one that may have be built up by years of ongoing trauma or is caused by alcohol or drugs.

Notice how anger is equated to a fire in the Bible. In Proverbs 15:18 anger is synonymous with being “hot-tempered.” In Proverbs 29:8 it is similar to setting a city aflame. Anger may start off smoldering like coals but if left unchecked it will destroy a person like a fire.

Applying inappropriate blame

There are two ways that we can inappropriately apply blame.

Blaming the other person completely

One is vilify the other person by placing all of the blame for the broken relationship on them. In your mind, everything that went wrong was because they blew it.

·         He was the one who was critical.

·         She was the one was nasty.

·         He was the one who was unwilling to resolve the problems.

It was not your fault.

·         You were the one who was insensitively thrown aside.

·         You were the one who only did what was right but was taken advantage of.

·         You tried everything that you could to salvage the relationship. You were simply the victim.


Why do we blame the other person?

One reason is because, in our insecurities and arrogance, we do not want to admit that the mistake was ours; that we caused a big part of the problem. We all want to be accepted and loved. We all want to be well thought of. But how can that happen if we are full of faults?

Another reason might be a resistance to accepting responsibility. To say, “Yes, I was wrong at this part” means the need to change there and possibly to ask for forgiveness. The first may be difficult because when someone is brokenhearted the last thing that they want to do is think about changing some aspect of their lives. All that they might be concerned about right now is survival. But to see wrong in something that you have done does not mean that you must immediately sit down and draw up a project and a schedule for how to implement this change. God understands that you first may need to heal.

As for asking for forgiveness; that is never easy and can be quite grating especially if the other person was the aggressor and initiator of the split. But we must seek forgiveness not so much for the sake of the other person but for our own selves.

The American Cancer Society that says that the five deadliest words in the English language are “Maybe it will go away.” This is because if you have a terrible disease and are complacent about it then it will most likely grow and become worse. Then you, and everyone around you, will suffer even more.

Well, the five most deadly words in Christianity might be, “It is not my fault.” Why? If you are not a Christian then this will prevent you from coming to God. Salvation requires an admittance of sin. If you think that you have no sin then you will not think that you need a Savior. If you are a Christian, then this will hinder your fellowship with God.

You may also think that since you feel badly that someone must be to blame and since it should not be you then it must be the other person. But sometimes there really is not anyone to blame. Sometimes the best course to take in breaking up a relationship will require unavoidable hurt and will not be the fault of either party. Just because your heart has been broken does not mean that the other person sinned against you.

Sometimes it is true that one person is more to blame than the other. One person may have had a hidden problem with anger or with alcohol or gambling. That situation will require forgiveness and healing. But most of the time it is closer to something like 60/40. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” That applies when you are listening to others and when you are listening to yourself.

If you think that broken relationships are always the other person’s fault then you will 1) become a mistrusting and critical person. That is because you will sharpen your eye to watch for the bad in others. And 2) you will rarely change for the better because you will rarely see the wrong in your own life.

Perhaps the most obvious Biblical case of inappropriately applying blame is seen in Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve committed the first sin by taking the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3:12 we read, “And the man said, ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’” The first person that Adam blamed was Eve. The first words out of his mouth were “The woman.” Then the second person that Adam blamed was God. He said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me” implying that God should have known better. There was a third person present but Adam does not even mention him. That is because it was himself.

So when relationships break up often, but not always, the order of blame is 1) the other person, 2) God, and finally 3) ourselves.

Then in verse 13 we read, “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” So Eve blamed the only other creature left; the serpent.

Consequently, God set the record straight by acknowledging that the man, the woman and also the serpent were to blame.

Blaming yourself completely

The second way to inappropriately apply blame is to blame yourself for everything. This attitude can be just as deadly as placing all of the blame on the other person. Some people rather than lashing out at everyone else will instead beat and condemn themselves. This can produce or amplify a feeling of self-loathing. It is often accompanied with the thought of, “I can’t do anything right.”

This improper self-guilt will only deter the healing process because you will focus all of your attention on what a louse you are instead of seeking the grace and forgiveness of God.

It also makes change more difficult because instead of only one or two areas of fault that need to be changed there is the person’s entire character. This would be such a daunting task that a feeling of defeat would be more prevalent than a determination to initiate a process to change.

        Again, it would be highly unlikely for one person to be wholly to blame. A much more successful course of action would be to truthfully determine what it is that you did wrong and then to set a course of action to learn from it and to change. If you are having difficulty determining this then have a friend or counselor who is familiar with the situation help you to correctly pinpoint what, if any, you did wrong.


God may have broken up that relationship because He knew to what disaster it was headed towards. But maybe God did not have anything to do with the breakup. God is not to blame for everything. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Notice that the verse does not stop after “And we know that God causes all things.” If tent caterpillars eat the leaves off of a tree we do not say, “God sent those caterpillars to kill that tree.” Instead we say that caterpillars ate the leaves. Many things happen because God has set in motion a universe governed by natural and supernatural laws. Unfortunately, sin has perverted many of the effects of those laws and so bad can occur with the good.

It will only serve you best to think rightly about what happened that caused the breakup.

·         If you wrongly blame the other person then that will only lead to anger and bitterness.

·         If you wrongly blame God then you know little of His love and concern.

·         If you wrongly blame yourself then you will feel helpless because you cannot change that which does not exist.


·         But if you rightly blame the other person then you can forgive.

·         If you rightly blame God then you can rest in His wisdom for the situation.

·         And if you rightly blame yourself then you can change that which exists and become more like Christ.


You need work on being a better friend if you:

·         Find most if not all of your friendships ending quickly.

·         Think that other people are privileged to have you as their friend.

·         Choose your friends solely on what you can get with no consideration for what you can give.

·         Gossip about one of your friends to another one of your friends.

·         Think of all of the negative characteristics and actions of your friends when you are away from them.

·         Are bored and distracted whenever you are around your friends.

·         Always think of excuses for not being able to help out a friend.

·         Share the secrets of a friend to others.

·         Expect your friends to always do what you want to do or you get mad.

·         Insult, belittle, or verbally or physically abuse or annoy those whom you are with.

·         Bother with your friends only when it is convenient for you.

·         Feel that everyone else should pay your way.


Applying sin where no sin is involved

This is slightly similar to the previous point.

Sometimes in order to hold a grudge you have to believe that the other person did something wrong otherwise you might seem petty and stupid even to yourself. So you try to force sin into the other person’s actions and motives when, in fact, there was no real sin involved. All of this just makes you seem more the victim and they to be more the villain.

If you are prone to doing this then heed seriously Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” God does not take lightly those who fabricate sin in other people’s lives.

Revenge or trying to hurt the person

Why would you want to do this? One reason might be because they hurt you and so you want them to feel the same pain.

There are many things that you can do to try and hurt the other person. We will take a quick look at three of these ways but there are many others. However, keep in mind that these are not listed here to give you ideas to try out.

Spreading vicious rumors. You might go to the pastor or staff at church and tell them bad things about the person. These will usually be something that is a character flaw but which you have exaggerated to seem more insidious than it really is. The question is, if these things were so bad then why did not you go to the staff with them when the relationship was going well? The obvious reason is because now you are just being malicious and hurtful.

Or you might tell too many people about what he did to you and how insensitive he was and so on and so forth. You are hoping that other people will take your side and turn against him. In your mind, if he so callously pushed you aside then he deserves to lose all of his friends. Then he will see how he likes it.

Exodus 23:1 says, “You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” Notice that this verse speaks not only about not spreading a false report but not even listening to one. Also, even a report that is partially true but which has been exaggerated is still a false report.

Destroying his belongings or sabotage. You may still have some of his belongings. The right thing to do is to return them possibly using a third party if necessary. The wrong thing to do would be to destroy some of those belongings and dump them on his front porch or to throw them away.

You may also want to damage his car or his house or something else that he values. This is wrong. Even if he was completely to blame for the breakup and was horrifically insensitive in how he did it, it is still incumbent upon you to be gracious and do what is right. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” That evil that you need to overcome is not only the evil that he might have done but also the evil in your own heart and mind that you want to do.

Wishing him to suffer harm. When you hear that something bad happens to him then you are glad and feel that it is God rightly punishing him for how he treated you. But if something good happens to him then it only increases your bitterness or proves to you even more so that life is unfair. This vengeance is not one of action but of attitude. However, that attitude can destroy you. It forces you to obsessively watch the other person’s every move and then to overanalyze the results. This person should not be your enemy but either way Proverbs 24:17 applies, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.”

Violence. You may become so angry that you feel that the only justice to the situation is violence. This violence might be physical, verbal, or emotional. Whatever the case, this is always a terrible thing to do. If you feel that you must attack the other person in any way then you must see a counselor as soon as possible. If you proceed with the violence then you will find yourself face-to-face with the wrath of God and possibly even the police.

Stalking. This may involve actually following that person around. Or it may be calling up many times using different phones and always hanging up when he answers. Or calling at all hours of the night. Or leaving threatening, anonymous notes all over. There are many ways that you can stalk a person. They are all wrong. If you have these urges then you need to tell someone who will hold you accountable and you need to seek counseling.

Unwarranted Hope

This one can be the most tricky because people do break up and then get back together again and then everything works out great. But there are also times when one hangs on to hope that does not exist and spends months, if not years, wishing for a reunion that will never come. In the meantime other opportunities are lost and much despair and heartache is maintained rather than released. Proverbs 13:12a describes this condition with the usual Biblical vigor, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

How do you know when to let go of hope? Unfortunately that will vary greatly depending on the circumstances and the people involved and so no one can give a definite checklist. However there are some general principles that we can consider.

·         One principle that might help is to seek the advice of others to see what they think or from someone who knows the other person. Of course people can easily misread a situation or another person’s heart and motives and so you must always be careful.

·         Consider that even if you did get back together would the relationship be so damaged that it would take a lot of mending to even bring it back to the way that it was before and is it worth that much effort?

·         Are you holding on because you think that the two of you are perfect for each other or because you do not think that anyone else would ever want you? If the latter then that is a wrong reason.

·         Determine if your hope is even reasonable. If she married someone else or moved away and is not maintaining contact then I would strongly suggest moving on.

·         If moving on to other opportunities does not destroy the potential of the two of you getting back together then why not see how you match up with others? Locking your eyes on only one person may mean not seeing other opportunities that may be even better. Just because you have always fished at one pond, by trying out a different lake does not mean that you cannot come back to the original pond.

But realize that even if you do move on that does not mean that you are necessarily putting to death any chance of getting back together again. What it does mean is that you are opening up yourself to other relationships including that one.

Ignoring the person

This is very common and is often invoked because of one of four possible motives.

1)       One is that you do not want to deal with the person because often that is too painful. This can certainly be legitimate to a degree. Talking to that person or even seeing that person can bring back yearnings that stab at your heart.

2)       The second is that you want the other person to know how much you are hurt. You want them to see how much their decision affected you and how miserable you are now because of it.

3)       The third is because you want to hurt the other person in return by treating him like a dog. You feel that he kicked you out of the way and now you want to return the sentiment, so to speak.

4)       The fourth is that you want to show him that you do not need him after all and that you can easily eliminate him from your life.

Though the first reason does have some merit since there is nothing saintly in self-torture, even here you should be careful in going too far. Though you do not have to hold conversations with him there is no need to be unfriendly.

But for the last three reasons I would say that these are probably sin and should not even be entertained for a moment.

If your hope is to win that person back then acting like a jerk certainly will not accomplish that and if you have truly moved on then there is no reason to demonstrate your confidence.

Playing the extreme victim

You had a relationship that you thought was going somewhere but now it is over and you feel ripped up. And now you are going to make sure that everyone knows just how badly you feel and how rotten he is for making you feel that way. So you tell your story and you get a few sympathetic ears, but the response is not as extreme as you had hoped.

·         No one fell on your shoulders and wept bitterly for your anguish.

·         No one spit venom every time his name was mentioned and then viciously ground it into the floor shrieking invectives.

·         No one sat on the edge of their chairs and after every sentence threw their hands up into the air and screamed “I can’t believe this! Go on!”

So you had to juice it up a bit. You became more and more the innocent victim who was left practically for dead while he sneered and cackled and seemed to almost revel in your pain. But you must not play with the facts simply to suit your own purpose. You need to realize that it could be possible that you simply overly analyzed or misread some circumstances.

·         That he went out with you more than once did not mean that he led you on.

·         That he sent you some cutesy notes was not necessarily his way of telling you that he was head-over-heals in love with you.

·         That he held your hand or maybe even kissed you was not a promise of eternal fidelity.

        If you must exaggerate the situation then that should show you how much you are making a molehill into a mountain. This is not to be glib about your emotions because emotions are always valid. But what you are probably doing is enflaming those emotions by these acts of exaggeration. If you deal with reality then you, by the grace of God, will find a solution to it. But if you deal with exaggerations and fantasies then it is no surprise that you are not getting over this any sooner because God will not necessarily give you the grace to heal yourself from your own self inflicted wounds.

Hardening your heart

C.S. Lewis in his book “The Four Loves” said this:

Even if it were granted that insurances against heartbreak were our highest wisdom, does God Himself offer them? Apparently not. Christ comes at last to say “Why hast thou forsaken me?”


There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.[17]


You may wish to guard your heart against hurt but in doing so you will also block it from joy. It is far better to have your heart broken a thousand times from love than to callous it once, forever. The problem with trying to guard your heart from feeling hurt is that you will keep it from feeling at all.

Mark 5:25-26 says, “And a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse.” Here was a woman who had a terrible condition. She tried many times for a solution but instead had “endured much.” Those two words have the meaning in the Greek of suffering pain. The treatment for an enduring hemorrhage as described in the Talmud was quite painful. So she had pain not only from the condition but from its treatment also. Yet, she persisted. It also says that she had spent all that she had. This condition cost her everything and so she had no more money to try anything else. Seemingly, she was defeated and without hope for a cure.

But then we read verses 27-29, “after hearing about Jesus, came up in the crowd behind Him, and touched His cloak. For she thought, ‘If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.’ And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” In God she found a cure.

This story is not about relationships but the principles can be applied. A person may be unmarried and desperately wanting a family. She may try everything and only comes away with hurt and anguish every time. She may finally come to the end of her rope where all of her emotions are spent and she loses all hope. But even then, God can come through. God does not need robust emotions to work. He does not need our money to accomplish His purposes. He is not discouraged by our failures for a cure. He can accomplish great things even when we have nothing left. But what He does desire is for us to try. That woman would never have been cured if she had given up and simply watched Jesus walk by.

What this story is not saying is that we must come to the end of our rope before God will step in. It is not saying that we should disregard physicians for health problems nor should we ignore counselors for emotional problems. Nor is it saying that, ultimately, God will always come through and give us exactly what we want.

This is a story of endurance and hope. It is a story that tells us not to give up because we eventually might be blessed with what we desire.

Many times I have heard people say, “Once you stop trying then God will give you a spouse.” I believe that this is not Biblical. God does not reward sloth nor does He reward a lack of effort.


Let us take a look at Exodus 14:10-17.

10  And as Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD.

11  Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?

12  "Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

Here was the situation where God had miraculously delivered Israel from the oppressive hand of the Egyptians and brought them out of there. But then Pharaoh got his chariots together and pursued them to the edge of the Red Sea. The people were frightened so what did they do? Did they quote promises of God’s protection and love? Did they pray? Did they ask Moses for counsel? No, they accused God of playing games with them. Suddenly God was the cause of all of their problems and their conclusion was that their lives would have been better if God was not in the picture.

Have you ever been like that? Did you ever think with disgust, “Why is God doing this to me?” Then you have been like that. After feeling particularly spiritual and then having things go wrong did you ever say, “I’ve tried to be really good and I’ve done everything that I think that I should and this is the reward that I get?” Then you have been like that.


What was Moses’ response to this? It is important that we see what happens here.

13  But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.

14  "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent."

Moses told the people to step back and let God take over the situation. It sounds like our “Let go and let God.” This is how we all want it to happen. We just want to be able to step aside and let God solve the problem completely. Is not this our usual expectation of God when we are in a crisis or a difficult time? “OK God, I’m stuck here. Now it’s your turn. You saw that I’ve done my best and it didn’t solve the problem so now you’re going to have to fix it. I’ll just stay out of your way.”


But read verse 15 and look at God’s response to this.

15  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”

God is saying here, “Don’t think that it’s going to be as easy as you stepping aside and expecting Me to do all of the work. You’ve got a part to play here also. I do not want you to step aside; I want you to go forward.”

What was forward in this case? It was the Red Sea. God does not want us to “Let go and let God.” God wants us to “Move forward and let God.” All too often nothing is improving because we have only done one or two things, if even that, to solve the situation and when that does not solve everything then we want to throw it all into God’s hands and if God does not come through then it is His fault.


16  “And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.

17  “And as for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.”

Do you notice what is going on here? God is assigning everyone a role. The Israelites had to move forward. Moses had to lift up his staff. And God had to work on the hearts of the Egyptians. God will be patient and God will be merciful but God will not honor quitting or laziness. Sometimes when we are blaming God it is because we have not done what we are supposed to and are expecting God to do practically everything.

·         “God, I’ve lost my job and I’ve been unemployed for quite a while. Have you lost Your touch?”

·         “God, my health hasn’t been the greatest lately and I’m not getting any better. Don’t You care?”

·         “God, this relationship fell apart and I’m suffering. Why aren’t You making me feel better?”

If we know God we will know what He promises and what He does not. We will know what God expects us to do and what He will take care of Himself. The more that we know God the more we will be convinced that God has good plans for us. Our response then will be to trust Him even more.


Bitterness is often the culmination of many of these previous attitudes. It is broader and more encompassing than any one of the above conditions. It is also deeper and more destructive. Your anger has become quicker. Your blame is more absolute. It can lead to many additional wrong attitudes such as:

·         You are never wrong or sinful. You will always have an excuse for your behavior. If someone says that you are angry you will claim that you are just tired. If someone points specific things that are wrong you will claim that they just do not understand what you are going through. And if someone does actually catch you in the wrong and you are without excuse then you brush it aside claiming that you have too much to think about right now.

·         You can develop paranoia. You think that everyone is just looking to stick it to you and that includes God. Every little thing in life that does not work out perfectly well is simply another example of how God wants to oppress you; even if those things are common, everyday occurrences that happened to you frequently in the past.

·         You become overly critical. The pastor now seems to be full of himself. Or church is now doing everything wrong. The worship songs are too slow or too fast or too predictable. Complaining about other people has become your favorite pastime. Your job is a mess, your family is annoying, and on and on. And the deeper that the bitterness becomes the more biting our criticisms will be.

·         You begin losing friends and family. Either they start staying away from you or you refuse to deal with them anymore. The latter could be spurred by something simple such as they said or did something that was not the utmost to your liking and so that somehow proved that they do not really care about you anymore. What you are doing is making everything that people say or do to be a test of their loyalty and utmost sensitivity to your situation. And if they fail, even if what they did was perfectly reasonable, then away with them. To you, they are no longer caring and worthy.


Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” This verse harks back to Deuteronomy 29:18. What flows from the root flows into the entire plant. So if the root is spewing poison then the entire plant from its fruit to its leaves will be poisonous. Many sins can be shallow, but bitterness always runs deep. Bitterness will always affect everything that we do.

There is only one power that can wash deep enough to get even to the roots and that is grace. Light can shine on the surface of the plant but it cannot get to the roots. Grace is similar to water. It can not only wash the surface but it can also run deep into the soil to the roots. But as long as water hits something that does not have a hollow in it the water will keep going. Water will never gather in an object that is already full or already full of itself. Grace is the same way. Psalm 81:10 says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” Grace will never force its way in. We must open ourselves up to it and receive it. God does not want our lives to be empty but He does want us to get rid of those things that fill up the hollows that grace should fill. Those things may be sins such as lust or jealously or any of the deeds of the flesh as described in Galatians 5:19-21. Or they may be things that may not necessarily be bad in themselves but which done to excess can deplete our time and our focus. They might be excessive television watching, an obsession with sports, or giving your life to your job.

To overcome bitterness we first need to recognize it and realize how much harm it is doing to us and to those around us. Then we need to pray to God for the grace and power to repent and do what is right. In some cases that may require some apologies or restoration to others. It may be a hard process but God’s grace is sufficient.


        When we have lost a key relationship usually we have a huge hole in our lives. This emptiness will probably encompass areas such as our social life, our emotions, our psychological well being, our thoughts, our plans, and our spiritual life. Because of the way that we were created we find it difficult to exist with such large gaps. Matthew 12:43-45 is interesting. It reads, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” This passage is dealing with removing an unclean spirit or a sinful habit from our lives and not replacing it with something positive. But the main principle that Jesus was teaching here also applies to relationships. Notice the key word in verse 44—“unoccupied.” When we expel or lose something important in our lives there is a gap and that gap will be filled with something. If we are not careful then something worse will fill in as in the example that Jesus taught. And this is true for relationships.

Sometimes when we lose someone special we are unable to cope properly with the loss and we fill that hole with something wrong. This may be alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, pornography, sexual promiscuity, or perhaps something like frequently going to bars, binge or constant eating, extravagant shopping, or watching mind-numbing television. These activities may help us to forget our pain for a time but ultimately they will strangle our lives like ever tightening cords. And the longer we maintain this behavior the harder it will be to break.

If you are already caught in the vise of one of these additions then you need to become involved in Christian counseling and in a support group. Gaining control over any of these sins is beyond the scope of this book. However, it is necessary for you to realize ahead of time that this is one of the potential pitfalls of a broken relationship and so to recognize it before you fall into it. If you know that you are prone to any of these then try and do your best to remove the temptation. If you are tempted to drinking then remove all alcohol. If you are tempted by pornography on the Internet then give your keyboard to someone to keep for a while. Learn to take walks or call up friends until the temptation passes.

God wants to fill that hole with something wonderful that you probably have never had before; do not obstruct His goodness with the trash of the world.

Replaying the situation

        If you are anything like me then when something like this happens you will replay every event, every word, and every possible course of action until you are almost crazy. Unfortunately, as time goes on, many of these memories will distort more and more to our favor whether that is to make him look more like a louse or you to be more the victim. What was once innocent, playful talk is now seen as mixed signals. The time when he was a few minutes late now appears to be an indication of severe disrespect.

        There is a benefit to pondering what happened in order to see possible warning signs, consider words or actions from you that were wrong, or better ways to have cushioned the ending. It is good to evaluate the situation. But this exercise is for us to learn and grow rather than to attribute greater blame.

        You can easily find yourself picking at every little thing that he said. All of a sudden you are discovering lies upon lies on his part. Maybe this is true in which case you should now be more sensitive to what is being said in the next situation rather than being blinded by charm. But if it is not true and you are simply trying to valid what a dirtball he is then you need to stop.

        You may have a thought such as, “He started holding my hand on the second date. Obviously, he was never interested and he was only leading me on.” Maybe you should not put a negative and horrific spin on everything that he said and did and consider what may even be the more obvious truth. In this case maybe he was sincerely interested by the second date but as time progressed he felt more uncomfortable with how he viewed the relationship and so felt the need to break it off. So his holding your hand on the second date was not some malicious setup but rather an overly eager show of sincere interest.

        Replaying the situation over and over again will only lead to either deeper anger or an extended pity-party. You can try and destroy him in your mind but what you will ultimately do is only destroy yourself.

        Philippians 3:13 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” We will never become better while we are stuck in the past. We will never grow and become more like Christ if we are obsessed with what is over and done with rather than what lies ahead. We will never heal while we pick at the scab.

        A similar problem is trying to determine who hurts the most. This is futile. It serves no purpose. Even if you are able to determine that you are suffering worse than he is then this will probably only further deepen your anger and bitterness. But if you somehow conclude that he is taking it worse than you are then what useful purpose is that? More than likely you will think, “Good, he deserves to suffer.” Besides, the truth is that you cannot get into someone else’s head. There can be ten different and valid reasons for why something was said so how can you determine which one was the correct one anyway? Besides, more than likely you will choose the one that best suits what you want to think anyway. Expending thought and energy on this will only delay your healing.


So here we looked at some possible improper responses to a broken relationship. These are things that can easily send our spiritual, emotional, and psychological lives into a tailspin. These responses differ in many ways but in them all we can see one common thread and that is that God is no longer being sought and trusted and that the person’s emotions are allowed to be the master of their lives. If we let them, our emotions can rise and fall with the fury of a storm on the sea while we are just a small ship being yanked to and fro with no control going wherever we are taken to. Or they can be like water in a basin that can be used and controlled by us.

But we must realize that if we do respond in any of these wrong ways it is not because we were forced to. Sin is never thrust upon us as an irresistible force. We are never allowed to say, “Of course I was bitter, wouldn’t you be?” These attitudes need to be quickly recognized and quickly dealt with. Any one of them are destructive and as long as we maintain any of them the healing from that broken relationship will only be delayed.

What are some of the proper ways that we can react to a broken relationship?

        Just as improper behavior and attitudes will delay healing so right behavior and attitudes will quicken healing. Listed below are some of the proper responses that will open us up to God’s grace and healing.

Do not isolate yourself from God or from others for too long of a period

This is perhaps the key point. As we have previously discussed, we were created for relationships and when one relationship has hurt you badly you do not want it to happen again. So you have a tendency to withdraw from other relationships so as not to be hurt by them also. But ultimately, this is the worst thing that you can do.

        Because John the Baptist and Jesus were close relatives they grew up together and were probably best friends. Herod put John into prison because he did not like John’s accusations of Herod’s adultery. Then on Herod’s birthday (the only birthday party mentioned in the Bible) John was beheaded. We can see this event in Matthew 14:10-14, “And he [Herod] sent and had John beheaded in the prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl; and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus. Now when Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place by Himself; and when the multitudes heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.”

When Jesus suffered the loss of a close relationship He went off by Himself. And when you suffer the loss of a close relationship God does not expect you to simply shrug it off and go on with your life. You are allowed to grieve privately. There is nothing unspiritual about being alone with your emotions. Even spiritual giants when they get the boot do not think, “I just got dumped. Well, praise God. Now that leaves me more time to serve. What ministry should I join next?” No, they grieve.

But notice that Jesus did not stay alone for very long. I am sure that He was still hurting when He came back. He would have had shallow emotions indeed if it only took Him a few hours to completely get over the death of His friend. That time alone did not solve everything. But He did come back even though He was still hurting and we can see in verse 14 that when He came back He saw a great multitude that had followed Him. People were probably yelling, “Jesus, Jesus, over here. Come help me.” Now if this was one of us what would we have done? We probably would have said something like, “Oh come on! Do you have to follow me everywhere? Look, my best friend just had his head cut off. Can’t you people just leave me alone for once?” Then we would probably have used the opportunity to tell them just how bad things were going for us.

But look at Jesus’ response. He “felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.” This is the heart of God. He put aside His burdens, His grieves, His problems and He ministered to others. His heart was instantly filled with compassion for them. And He healed them. Probably most in the crowd were not having as bad of a day as He was. But He did not weigh His day versus their day. He did not weigh His problems versus their problems. He did not think of how annoying they can be. Instead, He emptied Himself for their sakes.

This is not saying that when you lose a relationship that you should never talk about it. But what it is saying is that at some point after you have grieved alone that you need to come back to life and be with other people. This is a key to getting over a destroyed relationship. You may need more than one day, but the criteria for coming back is not that you are completely over it. You should come back even when you are still hurting. You must not isolate yourself for too long; you should help others and let others help you.

Philip Zimbardo in his article “The Age of Indifference” in Psychology Today said

I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and of us from them. It has been shown to be a central agent in the etiology of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, and a wide variety of disease states.


Proverbs 18:1 says, “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” To separate yourself from others for too long is unhealthy. If we translated the first half of this verse as the Hebrew implies we could write, “He who breaks away from people seeks to possess and enjoy only himself.” The more that you isolate yourself the more you will become self-focused and the less likely you will enjoy the blessings of God and of other people.

Yes, it is good to be alone; to gather your thoughts and your emotions, but that should not go on for days and weeks and months. You need to come back and return to others. The best way to heal from a broken relationship is not to remove other relationships but to draw strength from those that you do have including God’s.


Pray for yourself

        Prayer is essential to a complete and peaceful healing. Without prayer we will feel left alone. We will tend to think that God is out to get us because we have severed ourselves from His loving and reassuring fellowship. We will be struggling to overcome something terrible in our own strength and cunning. Any of these will lead to anxiety.

        At all times we should pray but especially when we are in a crisis. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This verse contains all four New Testament Greek words for prayer. So what God is saying is that when we are feeling anxious we should pray, pray, pray, and pray. This is God’s solution.

        When we pray we will be comforted by God’s presence. We will be given power to save us from our thoughts and emotions. We will deepen our faith to trust in God’s love and concern.

Pray for the other person

Usually breaking up with someone causes you to harbor ill feelings towards that person. As was discussed earlier, you can have feelings of bitterness, anger, revenge, hatred, maliciousness, and so on. These wrong feelings may eat you up even worse than the initial emotions that you felt when you first broke up. If you do not learn to master your thoughts then your thoughts will become the master that holds the leash and then they will drag you and pull you and twist you in whatever direction they choose. Uncontrolled thoughts will be like a herd of deer in your vegetable garden; they will destroy everything. Or as Song of Songs 2:15 puts it, “Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.” Our emotions can be like those little foxes.

Perhaps the crucial verse in the Bible on controlling our thought life is 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” What is perhaps the best way to control ill thoughts towards another person? Whenever you start to have those thoughts then pray good things for him or her. Eventually learn to pray good things for that person even when it is not initiated by some bad thought.

It is good to realize that you do not even have to be completely wholehearted about your prayer. That is the best, of course, but God does not ask for wholehearted obedience only. He is willing to settle for even mere obedience. But is this Biblical? Is there anywhere in the Bible where God says that He accepts obedience even if it is accompanied by wrong motives? Philippians 1:15-18 reads, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” So even though these people were preaching the Gospel with wrong motives Paul still rejoiced because Christ was being proclaimed. Too many people say that they are not going to do something until their heart is right or because their motives are not right. Well, you know what? Do it anyway and the right motives will follow.

Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” What does this verse say? Sometimes the understanding will come after the obedience is done. If you cannot pray good things for that person from a right heart; then do it anyway.

When you are sick you go to a doctor and you generally take whatever pill or injection he gives to you trusting that he knows what he is doing and this will help cure you. Most people do not first examine every medical journal and dictionary about the cure before taking it. Most people trust that the doctor knows what is best for you.

When your car is broke you bring it to a mechanic trusting that he will know what to do to fix it. Most people do not first break out a complex automobile book and study in detail how that entire broken system works before bringing their car in. Most people will trust that the mechanic will know what is best for their car.

By the same token, when God tells you what is best to do in some circumstance you should just do what He says trusting that He knows what is best for you. It is not necessary for you to first study every line in the Bible on the subject and then to get your heart and motives all lined up properly. So when you are struggling with your attitude towards someone then pray for him. This will do wonders for your attitude and will be much more pleasing to God then what you might otherwise be thinking about them.


If you have been treated wrong or sinned against then you must forgive that person. But the first word of the previous sentence is crucial in this step. Just because someone hurt you this does not mean that you were treated wrongly. Also, just because they did not end the relationship in the manner that you might have preferred this still does not mean that the way that they did do it was wrong.

Why is that “if” so important? Because too many people who are hurt in relationships carry around a chip on their shoulders because they feel that they have been treated so badly and that the other person was terribly cruel in what they did. So they grow bitter and angry. People tell them that they need to forgive the other person and get over it, but they cannot seem to be able to forgive the other person and close that whole relationship for good. Why is that? It could be one of two reasons. 1) Maybe they just do not want to forgive the person. Maybe they prefer being mad and bitter. Maybe they really do not want to go on with life or consider other possibilities. 2) Maybe the other person did not really sin against them and so there is no need for forgiveness. This is the point that is being made and this is key.

If another person has not sinned against you then you will not be able to forgive that person. Why? Because true forgiveness is an impossible task on our own. We need God’s grace to forgive. But if the other person has not sinned then there is no need to forgive and so God will not give you the grace to forgive when it is not called for. God does not dispense phony grace. He does not give us grace for situations that only exist in our own minds and not in reality. In this case God will not give us the grace to forgive, but He will give us the grace to alter our thinking from being the misused and sinned against victim to someone who was simply hurt.

How can we tell if we have been truly sinned against? Try to step back from the situation yourself and examine what really happened. If you think that you were sinned against then be able to clearly define that sin and provide Scripture to back up your contention. If that fails then go to someone who is spiritually mature and objective and tell him the situation as neutrally and factually as you can and see what he says.

But if we were, in fact, sinned against we do need to forgive the other person even if they do not admit to that sin. Why should we do that? Because if we do not forgive then we will carry that situation and all of its baggage into every future relationship of ours. And if you are unable to forgive the person from a previous relationship then you are not ready for another relationship. This is because you will bring that person into every new relationship and he or she will taint that new relationship.

Let it go; move on

We can be tenacious creatures. How many of us have kept a houseplant in a container long after it had withered and turned brown? We even keep watering it and hoping. Or we keep those leftovers in the freezer thinking that some day we will get to them. God knows that we are like this so He said in Ecclesiastes 3:6-7, “A time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together”

There are times to plant and times to uproot what is planted. There are times to wait and times to move on. But at some point when nothing is happening, it is time to move on and see what else may lie along your path. When you are just sitting on the side of the road you will only see what passes you by. But when you are walking down that road you will see much more.

Knowing when to hold on to a severed relationship and knowing when to let go is the difficulty. But as was stated earlier, letting go does not necessarily mean that the previous relationship cannot be restored. But what it does mean is that you are open to whatever doors may open now before you. You may be running your head into a brick wall with that one relationship when, just a few feet away, God has a door already opened for you.

People have the right to choose who they want to be in a relationship with and whom they do not

In all of your own relationships you feel that you have the right to choose what relationships to maintain and how deep to go with them. In fact, you would probably resist any attempt by someone to force more intimacy into their friendship with you than you would want. Well, other people have that same right also.

If he dumped you because he did not think that the situation would work out then, even if he was wrong in that evaluation, it was still his right to make that decision. You are not the master over everything that touches your life. Other people have legitimate parts to say and control and you must allow them that right just as they should allow you that same right.

Why is this important? Because too often the cry is heard, “How could he do this to me?” as though you were the only one allowed to make any decisions. But if the shoe had been on the other foot and someone said to you “How could do that to her?” you would have replied that you did not think that it was going anywhere and so you felt that it was best to end it there rather than to drag it out. You would have felt that to be a very legitimate and understandable response. After all, why try to patch a boat that is sinking? But what you allow yourself you must allow for others.

This is important because we sometimes need to see the arrogance behind the attitude of “It’s all right for me to dump him but it’s not all right for me to be the one that is dumped.” This kind of attitude will prevent grace from healing.

We can heal

        Our emotions can be like a precious and delicate tea set. When we first meet someone we may give them one of our smaller pieces. If he treats it with care then we might give him another more important piece and as he is tender and careful with the pieces that we have given to him then we will give him our more fragile and important pieces. But if he takes the pieces that we have given to him and he smashes them to the floor then we will be shocked and hurt as they are destroyed.

        In time we may be able to repair the broken pieces. But the next person that we meet we will be more hesitate to share our more delicate pieces. In time we might have shared all of the same pieces that we did previously but it probably took longer to get to that point and we might have been more suspicious. But if this person also smashes our set to the floor then we will again be sick and devastated and have to start the process of repair.

        Each time that this happens we will become slower and more untrusting of each person that we meet and wants to share our emotions. This is understandable but we must be careful that we do not lock them away in a dark and hidden cupboard where no one will ever find them again.

        The horror of broken pieces is not greater than the joy of sharing with someone who cares. Finding all of the broken pieces of porcelain and gluing them together in the right places is not easy. And putting our lives back together after a critical breakup is not easy. But it can be done.

        Matthew 14:22-27 tells the story of how, after feeding five thousand people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go across the Sea of Galilee to the other side. While part way across the winds picked up and the boat was battered by fierce waves. The disciples thought that they were going to perish as they struggled for hours to control the boat. Finally somewhere between 3:00 and 6:00 AM Jesus came walking on the water. The disciples thought that it was a ghost, a sign of impending death, and cried out. All seemed lost. But it was Jesus and He said to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

        Here the disciples were in their own environment, they were fishermen, when a crisis hit. The waves were beyond their ability to handle and after a long and terrible struggle they felt that the end was imminent. But then on the very waves that were crushing them walked Jesus Christ. And in our lives, Jesus Christ will often come to us on the very trials that are tearing us apart. When all seems hopeless and we seem overwhelmed Jesus Christ is faithful.

        Do you want to know how to forget what is in your past? Philippines 3:13 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” Do you want to forget what lies behind? Then reach forward to what lies ahead. When catastrophe hits, you should analyze it to a degree to see what might have caused it, to see if there was any sin involved on your part or on another’s part, and to try and understand what you are able to. But this does not mean beating it to death for months or years. It does not mean trying to dig every last piece of meat out of every dried bone. It means understanding what you can and then learning from it.

        To heal properly we must rely on God. We must believe that God cares, that He has the power to heal, and that He will heal. Therapists and counselors can definitely help but only if they point to God. The Song of Solomon 8:5a says, “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” When we are heartbroken we are in a wilderness; our lives are dry, without direction, and empty. The only way to come out of that wilderness is by leaning the greatest support that we can ever have—our beloved Jesus Christ.

A broken relationship can change your life in several directions. It could make you bitter and untrusting or it can change your life so that it becomes more like Jesus Christ’s. You alone are responsible for the outcome. Other people may push you towards one result or the other but only you can decide the final response. No one can make you sin.

Recovery is neither neatly packaged nor is it easy, but it is always possible. Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”


You are gentle if you:

·         Can answer a harsh comment with a gracious response

·         Are able to discuss a sensitive area with someone and not hurt their feelings

·         Can point out people’s sins or shortcomings and generally have the reproof accepted

Copyright Bob La Forge 2011        email: