Often there are tears involved. Beneath the eyes they well up is usually a rejoicing heart. A heart finally savoring for the first time in many months, or years even the relief that comes with breaking free from pretense. Pretense that it loved when it never really did, or if it once did, stopped long ago.
Finally some truth – “we can’t continue with the relationship.” But sadly, it is only some truth. The web of lies has usually entangled a heart so bad even the only time it tells truth it serves it with a lie on a side dish.
See it coming
The growing disinterest is never really something that takes one by surprise. Like Rome that wasn’t built in a day, hearts too are never broken in a day. Truly invested hearts will take sometimes longer to break than it took to win them. They persistently love despite the waning joy. They hold on even when hearty laughter is replaced with forced smiles.
But the cracks do grow bigger, and inevitably everything crumbles. Realities that have long been dodged and conversations long evaded finally must be confronted. For eventual peace, an inevitable heartbreak is the path one must walk. Of course only after every godly thing has been tried and nothing worked. But how should one, especially a child of God handle a breakup?
First, as to bring God glory;
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God – 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Secondly, in an ongoing loving way;
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal – 1 Corinthians 13:1.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things – 1 Corinthians 13:7.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself – Matthew 22:39.
Your shock that a breakup can be handled in a way that brings God glory is no different from the shock the Corinthian church must have expressed upon realizing that even how one eats or drinks can bring God glory. And if it can, then it also can deny Him glory. No doubt some had been eating and drinking in ways that were not God glorifying.
The Corinthians had been struggling with idolatry. Factions had formed along foods that people ate. Some felt no difficulty at all with eating temple meat, others of weaker faith believed that was sinful. Paul’s response was not to take sides. He instead pointed out the idolatry that had mastered the heart of each man, whichever side they belonged to.
The man who didn’t eat meat offered to idols ran an equal risk at being idolatrous as the man who ate! If one wasn’t governed by love for the neighbor, then neither his eating nor abstaining would bring God glory;
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor – 1 Corinthians 10:24.
The first sign that a heart is idolatrous is not a blasphemous claim to be god. Or attributing worship to some physical idol. The first sign is selfishness. The mere thought that “I am better”, or “I deserve better”.
With a breakup self-seeking will take even more subtle forms. One will withhold truth for fear of offending. That is no different from offending someone out of sheer resentment. It is self-seeking when the discomfort that comes with telling truth, however gratuitously done, overrides the genuine concern that will tell it no matter how painfully it will be felt.
Dishonesty roots from selfishness. Honesty on the other hand sprouts from love. I cannot be the only one with the problem if my partner’s next relationship ends under similar circumstances. However humble “I am the problem” sounds, masterfully veiled underneath it are usually pride and selfishness.
The lady can’t be the problem when what smothers the relationship is suspicion that the boyfriend might be cheating. The man can’t be the problem when a relationship disintegrates because despite everything he tries the girlfriend is not anymore interested.
If one is truly the problem, it is not enough to just acknowledge that he/she is. Love expressed through honesty demands that he/she will rather painfully acknowledge the specific ways that he/she is the problem. If not, love enough to admit “I might be the problem, but you are too.”
It’s both you and me
Possibly even, it’s plainly you. Though truth may hurt, “better is open rebuke than hidden love” – Proverbs 27:5. When the curtain closes on romantic love, the gates should open even wider to brotherly love. Brotherly love will care that no sin is left hidden. It will ensure the pursuit for righteousness still unites within Christ’s body two hearts that once were emotionally entangled.
Rebuke does not condescendingly point out the sin in another and assume the posture of a saint. Only accusation does that. What rebuke does is humbly (because you might be at fault too) and lovingly pursue the holiness of another, without which we know he/she will not see God – Hebrews 12:14.
It builds up. It cares that the partner whose sin ends the relationship repentantly turns away from the sin. But how would one turn away from a sin he/she is kept from seeing by a lie so heartless like “It’s not you, it’s me”?
Care not just for the partner who painfully hurts you, but also for the heart he/she will potentially hurt next. Your relationship with him is not the last he’ll be in. Your ending things with her likely might mean her start of things with another. Love that other person like you would yourself by at least ensuring they meet a better person. It’s the least you can do.
The worst of course you can do is lie. You may successfully ensure the breakup is less confrontational, but your heart will not be spared the idolatry that manifests in preferring some false personal calm to friction causing truth.
Accepting blame when you are innocent is not humility. The deception is similar to the one C.S. Lewis captures in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape, a senior devil, writes to Wormwood, a junior devil assigned to some human with regard to introducing the human to a false kind of humility that actually focuses on self;
“By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools,” he writes.
You must know that whatever is dishonest cannot be humble, and whatever is proud or self-seeking cannot be love. Therefore, if you’ve tried everything and still realize things must end, end them humbly. If truly the sun must set on what has been a rocky relationship, let it set with truth. It is loving, and God will be glorified.