Family Life, September 2015

Healing for Crisis Relationship Break-Ups

by Suzette Bowen

Suzette BowenGod made us for relationships. We need the comfort of them, we need the support of them, we need the love within them, and most of all, we seek unity with another. We are built for partnership and God uses relationships to sanctify us, even the broken ones. When the status quo of a relationship suffers an explosion, chaos naturally emerges. Many Christians struggle with their faith during the process of loss, however, in such times, recognizing that God knew you before you were in your mother’s womb and is not surprised by the recent shift, can be comforting.

It will test your belief that He is the all-sufficient one. God never wastes pain and He won’t start with yours. It is in His nature to turn chaos into creation and He knows no other position but to be a strong tower and an anchor that holds. His word can begin to become LIVING WATER as you identify with the lives of Job, David and Joseph. The emotional consequences of the loss can be overwhelming, however, leaning on your relationship with God will stabilize your environment, family, finances and daily living routines. Learn to hear Him. Let Him teach you what He would desire for you in His refiner’s fire.

Understanding the stages of grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance) will help normalize some of the emotional changes. After the break-up, searching for another partner immediately is a natural longing; however, reaching externally for your answers may only lengthen the process and cause you to miss the healing that comes with learning how to partner with God. Allow yourself to feel the pain…sit in it and recognize that is a molting process. Pain wants to be acknowledged, so don’t ignore it, but rather, embrace it.

Learn how to DO YOU! Getting to know yourself better is part of the journey. Often during these times, self-identity questions will arise, such as: “Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” “What is love?” “What brings me joy?” God has an answer for all of these questions and He is right with you through the process. Ask Him for HIS answers for your questions. Learn to date you, laugh with you, cry with you…explore your relationship with yourself. A good start is to use this acronym:

PIES: P-physical stimulation, I-intellectual stimulation, E-emotional stimulation, S-spiritual stimulation. Work on nurturing yourself throughout the week by a healthy dose of your PIES

Recognize the shame-based hidden messages of the past. Be careful not to victimizing yourself through negative internal dialogue such as “poor me”, “why me” , I’m worthless”, “I’m abandoned”, or, “I’m never good enough”. These are childhood messages that will surface during traumatic times. The enemy will bombard you with lies that will need to be combated with the truth of “who you are in Christ”.

A Christian counselor may help you in replacing your old identity with a Christ identity. Additionally, journaling is a recommended practice that can help you express your emotions in a non-toxic way. Ownership is a sign of self-esteem, so locate the areas you need to grow and resist the self-loathing messages. Accept that you must go THROUGH this, you cannot go over it or around it; but be assured that this experience will not define you, nor be your destiny, but rather propel you to your destiny, if you trust God with YOU!

Lastly, find a healthy support network. This may be a time to explore which activities and relationships feed you and which ones take from you. If you are a parent, you will need fuel to keep yourself and your children stable, so find those around you who desire to assist. Also, don’t be intimidated to ask for what you need from your current relationships. Those who really show up for you will be the ones that travel to your next destination. Through this trial, if you trust God and lean on Him and not on your own understanding, He will reveal himself to you and you will find that He stuck closer than a brother and that He provided in the storm. HE IS THE GOOD SHEPHARD. BLESSED BE HIS HOLY NAME.

About Suzette: Suzette Bowen, M.Ed., LPC, is the founder and CEO of Couples Care Center. She is a Christian relationship counselor who has a special interest in assisting couples through crisis. She assists in restoring relationships, however, when an alternate outcome is inevitable, she assists the individual partner in their healing journey. She uses a straight forward approach to address both superficial and core relationship and individual issues. She believes in strengthening what remains in order to encourage those in despair and believes that the truth sets people free.