My Breakup Changed the Way I Trust God

During college, there was a time where I spent three years being mostly single.

Prior to that I had been in a couple relationships, ones that ended in a lot of hurt. So in the three years that followed, I used a lot of energy envisioning how I wanted any future relationship to go.

I spent deliberate time thinking about what I needed out of a relationship, my standards for the kind of person I would be with, who I was regardless of my relationship status, how to navigate physical boundaries, etc. And while this may seem like a lot of reflecting, I just wanted the next one to go really well. If I’m being very honest, I wanted it to go so well that I would never have to go through a breakup again.

Therefore I knew that, in addition to all this planning and thinking, there was one thing I could do to guarantee a good, lasting relationship: Pray about it extensively beforehand. 

Before my three year stint as a mostly single person, I had not made much effort to pray about the men I had dated before actually dating them. “It’s just dating,” I remember telling myself (mostly in high school) and therefore was not a big enough deal to put much serious thought into whether or not the relationship would actually work (you can probably guess how well that frame of mind turned out for me).

So after those few relationships inevitably dissolved, I made the decision that next time I would secure God’s seal of approval beforehand and thus not have to go through any more heartache.

Needless to say, this is not what happened.

Before I began dating my now ex-boyfriend, I did what I said I would and prayed about it. A lot. I prayed what I imagined were typical dating prayers, ones that consisted of me asking doors to either be opened or closed with this man, for us to be on the same page about dating or not, etc. And every time, it seemed, another door would be opened or another feeling confirmed.

I definitely held onto the idea that if God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be the relationship. I mean, he knew my heart, right? He knew I didn’t want to go through another breakup, he knew I had worked hard to know myself and know God and know what it means to be in a healthy couple. If I was so keenly trying to follow his guidance, he would reward me for that. Wouldn’t he?

It’s important to point out that just because I was thinking this way did not mean I necessarily felt ready to be married, and I wasn’t naive to the reality that sometimes it just doesn’t work out with someone. But you could say I was looking for a sort of  insurance plan, one I hoped would protect me from any future heartbreak. I took what I thought to be the green light as God’s way of saying to me, “Don’t worry, this won’t crash and burn.”

And while that relationship didn’t exactly crash and burn, one year later it ended. And I immediately knew I would never be going back to it.

What had happened? Why had it ended if God had led me into it? Had he really led me or had I just imagined he did? Did I even know what being led into a relationship meant? Do I even know now?

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel tricked by God. To have spent years hoping and praying to not suffer yet another breakup, to trust God with my heart which had so often been discouraged and sad and lonely and longing for a permanent person only to have God seemingly pull the rug out from under me and say, “Just kidding.” And of course, this mindset has made it difficult not to feel apprehensive about future relationships I perceive God leading me into.

Because of this situation, I had to reevaluate the way in which I trust God with my heart and desire to be with someone. 

I think there is this idea that if two Christian people are dating intentionally and then break up, they weren’t following God’s leading and shouldn’t have dated in the first place. And while this can be true in some cases, I think it could also be true that God will deliberately lead us into a temporary season with someone (and I say this based on my own experience and observations).

Trusting God in these “temporary seasons” is a lot easier when it comes to things like a job, a living situation, etc. It’s much more difficult to accept this about relationships. However, if we genuinely allow God to lead us into something, only our utmost good is ever the result (breakups included).

For me, this means that next time I feel drawn to a relationship in that deliberate, nudging way, I will do my best to trust the God who leads me simply because he is good, not because I am guaranteed something lasting.

Someone once told me that God wants what’s best for us even more than we want what’s best for us.

I’d say that’s a pretty good insurance plan.

9 replies »

  1. I’m sorry if this is too personal and please feel free not to answer if you do not feel comfortable. But may I ask, why was it that your relationship did not work? I am asking as a 25 year old that also thinks a lot about relationships and God’s will.

    • Reply to Sam

      I don’t mind answering that question. The easiest answer is that he broke up with me, but the truth is is that it would have ended eventually even if he had not, and here’s why: we were not a good fit. The way I needed to relate to a significant other, the way I needed to be loved and form a partnership did not match up with the way he needed to experience those things. And unfortunately, that was something neither of us could have known before going into the relationship. And I came to realize (as I can only assume he did as well) these aspects were so ingrained in who we each were that it wasn’t something that could be “worked on” or “loved through”. We are both great people in many ways, but together I think it’s safe to say near the end neither of us felt at home in the relationship, if that makes sense. And I think one of the biggest things that will make a relationship lasting and beautiful is if both people feel entirely at home, themselves and peaceful, within it.

  2. Hi there!

    I hope this isn’t too strange, but I really need some advice.
    I’m a 17 year old girl dating a 19 year old boy who lives in another state. We’re not all too different, so it’s helped our relationship grow for the smaller side of 3 years now, but one area in which we differ greatly is in our Christian belief.

    He’s a devout-to-the-max kinda guy, praying in tongues, going to church every Sunday and youth every Friday, whereas I keep my belief to myself and really only go to church through my school. So I suppose we’ve influenced eachother greatly- him in getting me to be more religious, and as much as I don’t like to admit it, me in getting him to let loose a little.

    Recently though, he’s told me a message the adults of his church had found one night after praying for us, saying that he “needs to let me go”. He had kept it to himself for 4-5 weeks until he could finally come out with it, due to all sorts of things, but it really made me angry and upset because he didn’t trust me with something so important.

    So I guess what I’m asking is: even though he says he isn’t going to be breaking up with me until he gets a clear message from God Himself, should I assume that it’s because of my actions leading him away from God that this has come up? Is this my fault?

    Thankyou, for any advice you may give to this really confusing situation. I just don’t understand..

  3. Oh this is way I am staying single. I was in a Christian marriage for ei the en years which fell apart because of infidelity and now my ex husband has passed on and I have had a few longterm relationships go very badly si ce that time and I am the one who has been emotionally raped mentally and finiacially . I allways end up. I am done. Yes I can trust God and believe for a good man. But in the réal world this is a fairytale. People abuse cheat and lie and look after there own selfish needs. I don’t believe In God for this area of my life anymore. I have been too hurt. It really is a joke. I see nothing but Christian marriages fall apart , tons of infedility in the church body and the dating scene is really no different than the world and the church. it truly is.
    I have been too hurt and betrayed.

  4. Thank you for the passage I am so hopeless and sad because of the breakup I experienced half year ago, i also had the same doubts as you in my mind about Gods plan because we also prayed a lot before the relationship started but he just ended it suddenly after one year. Your message encourages me that God is still the good God even im experiencing tough moment now.

    • Hi Milo, I’m sorry to hear that you are having a hard time. I hope you feel more encouraged knowing that God is bigger than any relationship you might have, even a long-lasting one. I hope you continue finding encouragement!

  5. Julia, I praise God to have come across this post. It is exactly what I needed. I have prayed for God to give me peace and comfort during this difficult time for me.

    I was engaged to be married and with 9 months to go we both felt that God was in our relationship, blessing us the whole way and answering prayers and opening doors. We got the green light all the way through until my ex-fiancè got a word from God to end our relationship as we weren’t to marry one another. We deeply loved one another and I couldn’t understand how God can bless and give us green light and take it away. How so much good came out of our relationship and for it not be good enough.

    But reading your story is resonating with my heart. We were in each others lives for a season, to help each other grow and develop and for God to build us as individuals. That time has come to pass. I feel that we are both called to singleness to serve His kingdom and to find out who we truly are in Christ.

    I trust our God is a great God who draws close to those who are in need, broken and in pain. He provides that which no one else can.

    • Rica! I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner – I don’t use this blog anymore so I rarely check it. I’m so glad this resonated with your heart in such a difficult season. I can’t imagine the confusion all that brought about. But I think it’s remarkable you both had the bravery to listen to God, even when you felt he was moving you in a way that was incredibly difficult. Don’t be discouraged! Thank you for sharing this with me. I hope you are well.

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