"Breakups hurt like a motherf*#ker, but they are not the end of the world. The pain is only temporary, and if handled properly, they can even be life-changing. Our goal is to help you turn your breakup into the event that changes your life for the better. After all, you are a Superfox..."
-Intro to "It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken"
This past summer, when The Virgin Verdict was yet in mere infancy, a friend handed me this book (subtitled "The Smart Girl's Break-Up Buddy"), suggesting I read it and come up with some humorous little review/tongue-in-cheek commentary/incredibly profound post regarding a worldly perspective vs. a Biblical perspective of breaking up.
Well, the book I read (after all, I was on the job hunt back then. Free time was a beautifully abundant thing...). And I must say, "It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken" was hilarious, sad and revelatory, all at the same time. Despite it's fascinating content, however, I quickly dismissed the thought of writing a post about it. After all, I wasn't even in a relationship at the time, let alone experiencing the immediate intensity of post-breakup pain. Would I truly be able to do such a post justice, two years removed from such an incident?
Little did I know, six months after reading that book, I would be in desperate need of some emotional Superglue for my freshly broken heart. Upon re-examining both "Break-Up Buddy"'s sassy advice and the Bible's sound wisdom, here goes my suddenly relevant take on brokenness and loss...
If you ever pick up a copy of "It's Called a Break-Up Because It's Broken" at your local bookstore (or, more realistically, seek out your virtual copy while perusing Amazon.com), you can't help but smile at the cartoon photo on the cover. Here...I'll help you with the visual...
What better image to symbolize a break-up than a pint of Ben & Jerry's? Hahaha! It makes me think of the brilliant (albeit brief) scene in Bride Wars where Anne Hathaway calls several of her closest friends the minute she gets engaged. The camera quickly shifts to one of the girls on the other end of the line--happily congratulating her friend in an excited tone, whilst simultaneously reaching into the freezer to grab some remedial Mint Chocolate Chip. I laugh and cringe at the same time, knowing this is exactly what we so often do. To assuage the pain of rejection, crushed dreams or our own seeming "failure" in light of the relational success of others (i.e. "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride..." struggles), we indulge ourselves in any and every kind of comfort we can get our hands-on. Take the pint, for instance, whether it's beer or Ben & Jerry's, food and alcohol seem to be the most common rescuers to run to post-break up. They make us happy. They make us forget.
At least for temporarily...
But even if we're not binging or getting buzzed, I can guarantee that we're finding comfort in other (equally unhealthy) ways. Maybe we're devoting hours and hours to working out, in attempts to perfect the imperfect bodies we assume might be the cause of the rejection. Maybe we're sleep the days away, seeking solace in self-pity and escape. And maybe still, we're clinging to the ever tried and true break-up advice: "The best way to get over someone is to..." (If you don't know the ending of that clever little cliche, I'll let your clever little self figure it out on your own. Just think about the opposite of getting over someone. Literally...).
As I survey that little list, I am ashamed to admit that images bombard my mind of me doing every single one of those things lately...although certainly not to the extreme. I am, after all, a Christian ;)
Seriously, though, in the past two months, I have become all too aware of my very un-Christian methods of coping in my brokeness...all of which can be excused as "just normal" and "not that bad" compared to what the rest of non-believing society does when they call it quits. Sure, I'm not getting drunk, but I know that that glass of wine becomes more signficantly soothing when my heart hurts. And clearly (seeing as I haven't changed the title of my blog), I haven't actually indulged in that last cheeky coping mechanism. Even still, I can't deny my shameless flirting and search for "replacement options" a mere 30-minutes post "the talk" (yes, it happened that quickly...).
These are the world's ways--just tempered by a bit of self-control and restrained by conviction.
The Bible calls these things idols--the "other lovers" we run to in exchange for the One that can truly comfort our hearts. And never, I'm convinced, do we come more face to face with our idols, than in our brokenness.
Just when I thought I was consistently committed to walking with God and finding my comfort in Him alone, upon losing someone I love--being rejected by a person I deeply care about--I suddenly realized just what I was really allowing to uphold me. Yes, some of it was the Lord. I was still seeking Him reguarly and consistently ministering to others. Yet, I also realize that so much of my foundation at that time was built on the presence of this other person. Even a few weeks removed from the "break up" (the reason for the quotes is a whole other post in and of itself), I could see just how much my comfort, emotional well-being and confidence were wrapped up in a mere man.
On the heels of the revelation that this man was really an idol in my life, came the revelation of my frantic search to run to anything and everything to find comfort for the dissolving of my primary source of comfort. Let me just say that those two revelations are not pretty: Realizing that, even as a believer, your hope has not (at least in a practical sense) been fully in God...and to make matters worse, once you recognize your (false sense of) hope is lost, you run to anything BUT God to ease the pain.
Bleh...I really DO need a Saviour...
Despite what "Break Up Buddy" assures me (that I am a Superfox and the guy who rejected me is an idiot), I know that I need truth more substantial than cute cliches to boost my confidence. I need comfort deeper and more lasting than booze, brownies or body sculpting can provide. And I know that time won't actually heal my wounds--just lessen the sting until the fateful day when I unexpectedly run into my old comfort in the embrace of someone new--and the pain suddenly resurfaces. The world's hope ceners itself on these things--self-esteem, comfort, distraction and the passing of time to distance us from our hurt. Funny how all those "hopes" are fluxuating and finite. Each can, and inevitably will, dissapoint as it slowly loses it's power to make things better.
But I know that I know that true Hope does not dissapoint. I am convinced that inner healing from the Holy Spirit is not only real, but that it can transform us completely. As we are submitted to Him and His ways, the Lord is subtlely but most certainly at work in themidst of our painful experiences, using them to mold us into truer reflections of His Son.
It may be "called a break up because it is broken," but I know brokenness doesn't have to be in vain...
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."