A huge thanks to Miriam S for this week’s guest post. It’s powerful and wise; and deals with an area we don’t read about very often. She writes…
A broken hope: How breakups point us to the Ultimate Romantic
It’s easy to think that God and the Bible don’t have much to say about relationship breakups. It’s not something that is spoken about much in sermons. You don’t hear topical talks about them. Serious breakups don’t even seem to have happened to many other Christians when you look around at church on a Sunday.
But the Bible tells the story of the ultimate cosmic romance, written by the Maker of romantic emotions, love, sex and marriage. So it stands to reason that relationship breakups, even in their sadness and brokenness, can point us to something greater to hold onto.
Our emotions point to our Maker
The Bible tells us that before the world was made, the Son was with God (John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit was there too (Genesis 1:2). The idea that God is three persons in one is a bit crazy to grasp, but just think about what it means. It means that before the world was even created, God was relational. He understood what it was to love, and to be loved.
This relational God made men and women in his own image (Genesis 1:26-27). This means that God made us like him: with the capacity to love and to feel loved, and to experience all the emotions that come with love.
But God didn’t stop there, he created us to be in relationship with Him! The third chapter in Genesis tells the story of how Adam and Eve turned away from God, and decided they were better off alone. The rest of the Bible tells the story of how, because he loved us, God acted in history to fix the broken relationship between us and him (John 3:16).
In his book, Swipe Up, Jason Roach says the yearning, pining and euphoria we feel about those we are interested in romantically can help us understand the feelings God has for us. He describes the giddy, “I can’t take my eyes off you” euphoria of being in a new relationship as a signpost that points to the dizzying heights of God’s own passionate love for us.
And just like in new relationships, the emotions we struggle with during breakups can point to something greater. After my breakup, the feelings of longing and yearning for my ex boyfriend in the days and weeks that followed have been overwhelming. It has been slowly blowing my mind to realise that these emotions are still huge signposts pointing to the way God feels about me.
Throughout the Bible, the language that is used to describe God’s love for his people, who all choose to reject him at some point, is as passionate as a lover (Jeremiah 24:7, Revelation 21:2-4). I know that God’s love for me was so great because he died for me, so that I could be in relationship with him.
God’s love for me is somehow even more powerful than the overwhelming emotions I’ve felt as I have yearned for my old boyfriend – the Bible says this is so (Ephesians 3:19)!
Separation points to a deeper split
If we were made in the image of a God who is relational and who loves his people so intensely, it is no wonder that it is so devastating when relationships break. It goes against our very nature, and so the pain goes right to our core. It is not random that so many songs are inspired by heartbreak – there is an innate wrongness to the breaking of relationships.
One of the hardest parts of a breakup is the bleakness of separation from someone who you had built a strong connection with. There is something utterly hopeless and wrong about that feeling of broken separation.
That hopeless separation is an echo of what we deserve from God, for turning away from him and choosing to live life on our own. The penalty for rejecting God is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible describes this second death of being shut out from God’s presence forever (Matthew 25:41).
But God entered the world as a man, Jesus Christ, to die and pay that penalty – separation from God the Father – instead of us. Jesus has felt the same pain I’m feeling in my own heartbreak because he experienced bleak separation from God the Father on the cross.
Jesus died so that we never have to experience the ultimate utter separation from our Heavenly Father that we deserve. All we need to do is trust and follow Jesus as King.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the pain of separation from another person, I can remember that I will never experience this same separation when it comes to me and God. There is nothing that can ever separate me from the love of God because of Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).
When I’m feeling sad that I wasn’t loved as I wanted to be loved, I can look to him who loved me so much that he died for me. And know that this love is real, and far greater than the earthly relationship I’m longing for.
Brokenness points to a Greater Return
I would love to be married. There’s something inside of me that longs for the affection, intimacy and security that can be found in being in a lifelong team with another person. But I also know that even if I am blessed with a happy marriage one day, it will never fulfil these longings that I have for intimacy and security. This is because the world is still broken, and our relationships with each other will always be tinged with dissatisfaction in some shape or form.
This brokenness will not be completely healed until Jesus, who defeated death and went up into Heaven, returns (Acts 1:10-11) and makes everything new. That is what he has promised to do (Revelation 21:5). The final book in the Bible describes a huge wedding feast for the marriage of Christ and his beautiful bride – the church. That is when my relational longings will be fully met, not before.
My old boyfriend hasn’t returned since our breakup, but I am confidently looking forward to a Greater Return – the return of Jesus Christ.
There’s nothing I can write that will make the anguish of a breakup go away quickly for anyone reading this. But I am praying that these words might show how the painful emotions during these times can point us to look to Jesus Christ as the fulfilment of all our relational longings.
Miriam Siers serves as a member of Christ Church Balham in South London. She is a journalist and the news editor for an energy market news provider.