Breaking Up, Breaking Down, & The Healing In Between
As I watch the vapor of my breath leave my body, I am amazed by the Michigan marsh that surrounds me. I can't help but be thankful that the sun that is out; However, as I think about the new year that has come so suddenly, a word comes to my mind: Chainless. Daily I'm reminded that I feel chained to past hurt and the heartbreak they bring, and I can't help but feel that I am not alone with these chains.
Let's get one thing clear... We all know or will know heartbreak. Whether it is heartbreak and hurt from the loss of a friend, heartbreak and hurt from the breakup and loss of a relationship, heartbreak and hurt from the loss of a marriage, or heartbreak and hurt over past decisions & actions or present decisions & actions of yourself and others, We all know or will know heartbreak.
One thing that is important to note about heartbreak though...? Heartbreak comes in different shades, and comes with different intensity. And regardless of the heartbreak that you currently are experiencing or will experience, we MUST not forget: Behind every broken heart lies a living, breathing, person... And every person has a story.
Through the years, I've been very transparent about my story and the heartbreak that finds me at different times and in different ways. I have been transparent about my testimony of how I came to know my Savior. (Which if you are curious, you can read it by clicking or tapping this sentence.)
Two years ago, I also wrote in detail about some of the more present heartbreak in a post entitled, Broken Heart (click or tap here to read); However, I have found that even though years may pass, there is still healing that is taken place...
Even as I write this opening under the glow of a lamp there is healing that is taking place... And even as you are reading this, there is a healing that is taking place in your life presently!
I have been thinking of what I should write about this month, and the topic of heartbreak kept coming to my mind, over... and over again, to the point that I even stayed up late one night just to try to find resources to help wrap my head around the process of healing. Unfortunately, I didn't find much that’s related to what was burdening me concerning healing from relationship breakups and breakdowns :/
However, as I stopped to take the picture that you saw at the beginning of this post, I felt led to start writing some of the things that I have noticed that have helped me during my time of grief and healing. My prayer is that what is shared brings you closer to the healing that your aching heart is longing for.
And for me? Music has not only been very important to my growth as a person, but it has also been very important in my healing moving forward from past wounds; therefore, I will not only be looking at Scripture, but also lyrics from some songs that have shown me some important truths concerning healing from heartbreak. (If there is a song you would like to listen to that is listed, simply click or tap the name of the song and you will be redirected to that particular song.)
By no means am I an "expert" on healing...
not even close.
I am just someone who is not afraid to be transparent & honest with myself, others,
and point to the One who is the expert...
Here are some observations that I have noticed on my journey of healing so far:
♦ Lift up your hands often.
"Above my head, they'll fly With their lives that are more than mine. Reach out my hands to the Light And feel life that is more."
This is one of my favorite lyrics from any song I've ever heard. Even though simplistic in its nature, this lyric reflects John 10:10 & Psalm 143: 5-6 and comes from the song "In The Woodshop" by the band Falling Up. The song is even more powerful when listening to it in the context of the album in which it comes from. Since it is found on a concept album, the album tells the story of a woman who from childhood has running from the Lord up until this point she encounters Him in her brokenness. In her breaking down, she lifts her hands in humility and surrender admitting that “life that is more” is not found in herself. Likewise, in our brokenness and pain, we must not forget that a broken heart and humility goes together like a laugh and a smile. Jesus promises a life that is abundant and that means that NO heartbreak, NO breakup, NO breakdown can rob us from that. We must not neglect surrendering often... admitting defeat and acknowledging our need for the Savior often... and through lifting our hands in surrender may we better discover what Paul means in Philippians 4:7 when he states the following:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
This also reminded me of the song "Pieces" by the band Red, in which the singer Michael Barnes cries out in a similar way with a prayer of surrender:
"I'm here again A thousand miles away from You. A broken mess, just scattered pieces of who I am. I tried so hard, thought I could do this on my own. I've lost so much along the way.
Then I'll see Your face I know I'm finally Yours I find everything that I thought I lost before. You call my name, I come to You in pieces; So You can make me whole."
♦ Take time to access the wounds.
"... And you cannot imagine all the places you'll see Jesus But you'll find Him everywhere you thought He wasn't supposed to go." - Nichole Nordeman, "Dear Me"
Don’t keep plowing full speed ahead acting like nothing happened ... It's okay to hurt. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to weep. It's okay to feel... even if what you feel makes no sense. It's normal to wake up from recurring nightmares. It's important to take time and assess the damage that this breakup, breakdown, decision, grief, or hurt has caused. Even Jesus took time just to weep and mourn... many times! For example, He wept over Israel in Luke 19:41-44 and He wept as He visited the grave of His friend Lazarus in John 11:35. No hurt is too great for Him. We can always bring our hurt to our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who knows wounds, who knows heartbreak, who knows betrayal and hurt... who was wounded for our transgressions as Isaiah 53:5, Romans 4:25, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Hebrews 9:28, and even 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us. We have a Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who KNOWS wounds. He knows. O how He knows!
♦ Make things right.
"You're tearing out my heart Burning a memory in time I know that it's my fault Trading out trouble with pride..."
In my healing, I am constantly brought back to this song and the beautiful picture of honesty with oneself and another, the forsaking of pride, and embracing the Grace that will always follow. In the song "Balconies" by the band Paper Route, I've been reminded that it's okay to be honest in our hurt; however, we have to be honest of our shortcomings and confusion. It's comforting to me that in honesty and humility, we don't have to hide our hurt in the process and likewise the singer in this song doesn't hide his hurt and questions to himself, the Lord, and the other individual involved in the hurt either...
"It's the simple things that I can't get right It's the hunting heart trying to survive And for every wound there's a hill to climb Can we reach that high?"
The interesting thing to me, is that this song does not show the response of the other person in the breakup... it doesn't have to. JT Daly only sings from the perspective of himself in this situation acknowledging that Grace is not dependent on the other individual admitting wrongdoing but is given from the Lord Himself. Through this, there is a picture of the Lord's Grace even in the midst of the heartbreak of breakup or divorce. Even though they both are not strong enough to overcome their wounds, they recognize Who is strong enough:
"... Raise your arms and hold what you can't replace. Raise your arms and hold balconies of Grace... There is loneliness in the things we need But inside your eyes I am reflecting There is Grace to hold over you and me There are balconies, balconies."
Jesus models how we can Love even in pain and wrongdoing when He was on the Cross. Despite our sin, Jesus willfully put Himself on the cross to suffer the punishment of our sin, rebellion, and our brokenness while despite not deserving any bit of suffering... He still cried out begging for our forgiveness in our ignorance of what we have done and what we would do (Luke 23:34). Jesus shows an absolute Grace that no human love can ever show; however... so often we hold onto grudges that we have toward another individual and keep our hurts close forgetting what He has done for us.
Release yourself and release the other person from slavery to regret by admitting your mishaps if there are any. Even in the hurt, may we seek to live out Philippians 2:3-4 in which Paul urges us to, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others". Bottom line: As hard as it is, acknowledge that You’ve been forgiven of much... take the hand of who hurt you and place it in the Hand of Redeemer of all things. Make things right with the individual if possible. Release the other person while taking ownership over where you may have dropped the ball. This is difficult, but there truly is balconies of Grace ABOVE our inabilities available... Lord, help us take steps toward healing.
♦ It is important to not neglect finding a joy in your work.
As I walk through the peacefully swaying marsh that is all around me, I can't help but have the desire to just do whatever I can to run away and escape the realities, expectations, and responsibilities that each day brings; However, even with this heartbreak that is within me right now... I am reminded that I am called to use my hands that write these words, use these eyes that gaze upon the beauty all around me, use this breath that I can see as a result of the frosty winter air, and use my mind that currently is processing everything that my hand is writing, to use everything that I am to declare EVERYTHING that You are Father (Colossians 3:23).
I am reminded that I have such a greater purpose than ANY of these current circumstances and deceptive emotions that time and time again, through the many years, You have given me a JOY doing that which I was created for Lord! You have given us all a niche for something and each and every one of us has gifting and abilities that we can use for such a greater purpose then serving ourselves. Every ability that we have has been given, has been lavished for us to use with ALL of our might for the Glory of the One who has entrusted us with the ability! Regardless if you are a cook, waiter, cleaner, plumber, pastor, politician, dentist, builder, writer, mom, dad, photographer, electrician... we all have a gift that has been given where we can glorify the Giver. I am reminded of lyrics from the song "Polaris" by the band Remedy Drive:
"You use your gift when you don't have a sword; You've got your fingertips on the keyboard. You've got the spear of your influence, nobody else has got your fingerprints. It's the steel that's pushed, it's the weight that bends, it's the light that's bleeding out through your camera lens. You've got your voice, so sing it out my friend..."
Even though these lyrics were apart of a call to action concerning fighting sex trafficking, there is a principle here that is key: Despite your heartbreak, you have gifts and abilities that this world so desperately needs for you to surrender to your Creator, Savior, and Sustainer to use those gifts and abilities for His purpose. He alone can reverse this brokenness.
Allowing heartbreak to tie our hands behind our back in willful slavery is meaningless and will do nothing but sink us deeper into the pit of brokenness and despair.
♦ Do not cope. Remember, the "shadow" of heartbreak proves the sunshine.
"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." - Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis
It is so easy to replace an individual or what was lost with something apart from Christ in attempt to fill the void we feel. Some turn to the bottle, some turn to pornography, some turn to a rebounded relationship, some turn to an unhealthy work schedule, whatever it is... we are masters at coping with loss but not addressing the root of our void and longings. We desire intimacy, but so often we settle for a counterfeit intimacy of other person or thing and hold nothing back from that...
Doesn't this heartbreak often feel like a shadow that blocks life from the core of your being? It does to me often; however, through heartbreak I recognize that I have overwhelming longings... and at the end of the day this world can not fulfill them! What are we really longing for? Why do we want a love that will not leave? If all we have ever felt was inconstant love from the beginning, where does these longings for unconditional love come from??
We can search high and wide on this planet for a love that is truly unconditional and we will be let down every time... unless... the shadows of inconsistent and unconditional love PROVES the source of unconditional love can not come from creation but from the Creator (1 John 4:8, John 3:16-17). In our healing, may we look to the cross of Jesus for the picture of Love instead of coping for lesser loves that surround us and yell daily. Bottom Line: We will never be satisfied until we are resting in Christ alone. May we recognize that only Jesus can satisfy that the void that our of heartbreak leaves.
♦ You are not alone. Jesus is close to the brokenhearted.
"You've been let down, it's true Your pain is so easy to see You're haunted by your history And it feels like you've got no escape
Your life left you high and dry You used to be sure of yourself But then your whole world went to hell And tomorrow looks just like today
So, you lie on your bed, you won't let the morning come in And you hide in your room, feeding that fear and it's killing you Don't you know That it's killing me too, cause your heartbreak is breaking you...
... And you lost your fire And your flame's gone out And your down on your knees Cause your life is not what you thought it would be..."
Heartbreak often feels like this... doesn't it? Audrey Assad in the song, "Breaking You", sings of the hurt and isolation that heartbreak can bring;
However, let this sink in:
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." - Jesus, Matthew 5:4
"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18
You are not alone. It's difficult, but in our healing it is possible to renew our thoughts that can often be crippling and by remembering verses such as these, we are reminded of the Truth. Bottom Line: You are not alone. Remind yourself that.
I love the way that Audrey Assad also reflects this truth at the end of the song:
"... Lift up your head Help is on the way And it won't pass you by You just gotta reach out your hand
Lift up your eyes Love is on the way And it won't pass you by You just gotta reach out your hand
Go on and lift up your head Because Love is on His way And He won't pass you by You've just gotta reach out your hand."
♦ Seek the Big Picture to life and pursue it with everything.
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that". - James, James 4: 13-15
Life is a vapor, yet out of all creation you reading this is worth dying for. Your worth can not be found is anything that this world offers. You are worth more than all this... Our worth can only be found in our Creator. And apart from Him? We are missing it...
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." - Jesus, John 15:5
You are not what has happened. You are not what your heart says you are (Jeremiah 17:9). We know who we are when we know our Creator . The big picture of life is living it fully surrendered to Jesus for His plan and purpose admitting that apart from Him we have nothing.
"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD..." - Jeremiah 29: 12-14
♦ You are a work in progress. Don’t let regrets have the final word!
"... Thank You for the hardest parts And the beauty of these scars Even though it broke my heart Thank You Thank You Thank You."
This song has been very important in my healing. Throughout this album, the singer Jason Gray is recounting the journey that his divorce has taken him, comparing it to a "Death Without a Funeral" (click the name to go listen to the song and story); however, he closes the album with the track "Thank You For Everything" in which he declares the lyrics above. Despite his heart from divorce... he says thank you. Let that sink in.
May our hearts reflect these lyrics as well, despite out grief and hurt:
I can't sing that song the same way anymore 'cause I start laughing at the parts where I could only weep before. And it sounds sweeter not because the notes can't ring, until they echo through each wasted year that You restored to me.
I've been thinking of how You wept for Lazarus. Tears on Your cheeks, Resurrection on Your lips. Sometimes mercy can feel like abandonment, but You know all about it.
I used to think I had to write these songs just so for heaven's sake and for my own, I put myself through hell. But I quit striving for perfection, surrendered up to it instead and now the songs keep pouring out and I cannot contain myself...
You let my heart die, but left Yours beating in my chest. Broken will, find your rest! Broken voice, you sing best! At 30, 000 feet above, the earth was small enough to think of everyone I love. And then imagine them, a thousand mirrors all reflecting back at once and any light would multiply and then remind me: That Your love is more than the sum." - My Epic, "Lazarus"
Even though we have already mentioned this passage of Scripture at the beginning of this post, may we also reflect on what Paul wrote in Philippians 4: 6-8 :
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think on these things."
Joy that surpass all understanding. I have felt a joy that surpasses my heartbreak... And at times? Like waves, I also experience pain and grieving; however, verses every day reminds me that there is still work that You are doing within me Jesus. At the end of the day? I want to look more like You and less like myself.
Ellie Holcomb also reflects this acknowledgment in the song, "Find You Here", in which she sings through her heartbreak:
"It's not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear, It's not the road we would have chosen, no. The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead - but You're asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead...
You say that I should come to You with everything I need. You're asking me to thank You even when the pain is deep. You promise that You'll come and meet us on the road ahead. And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad.
And I didn't know I'd find You here, in the middle of my deepest fear, but You were drawing near me, You were overwhelming me with peace. So I lift my voice and sing: "You're gonna carry me through everything." You were drawing near, You're overwhelming all my fear.
Here in the middle of the lonely night, here in the middle of the losing fight, You're here in the middle of the deep regret, here when the healing hasn't happened yet. Here in the middle of the desert place, here in the middle when I cannot see Your face, Here in the middle with Your outstretched arms, You can see my pain and it breaks Your heart...
Rejoice, rejoice! Don't have to worry about a single thing, 'Cause you were overwhelming me with peace. Don't have to worry about a single thing! You're gonna carry us through everything. Overwhelming peace."
So where do we go from here? May we begin by taking steps toward surrender and trust in the right place. May we surround ourselves with the Truth and forsake coping with the pain... One way that we can do this is by seeking the Lord in the Word and discovering more of Who He is and who we are.
If you don't know where to start, maybe this post can help you by re-reading it and looking up the Scripture passages mentioned.
It’s okay to not have all the answers. It's okay to say "Lord, I don’t know what you are doing..."
I recently came across old recordings of me and a former relationship... and goodness, I was a piece of work who had many rough edges; But that’s okay. May we learn and grow from the hurt and pain.
You are not a lost cause. You are not alone!
... Through it all, may we always be confident of this, "That He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus return." (Philippians 1:6)
I’ve heard it said, that what you preach the loudest you need the most... Goodness, this is so true in my life. I need You Jesus. And I know enough to know that healing is found in You... ... May we reach for You in our healing, together.
We all know or will know heartbreak...
Yet, with every breath,
with each second we have left,
may we point others to the Healer through our wounds
May we bring our chains and broken hearts to You Jesus and not be afraid to share our stories...
... Knowing that our wounds are were Your Light gets in. Jesus, You're the One that really matters.