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August 06, 2014

After a Breakup: The Power of Three Little Words

Some songs seem to stick with you long after you’ve heard them, whether you want them to or not. The popular chorus from the animated movie, Frozen is one of them. It’s been playing in my head for days.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been pondering those three little words that five-year-olds and thirty-five-year olds alike seem to be belting out randomly and regularly these days: “Let it go. Let it go...”

As a single woman, those three little words, “let it go,” remind me of how hard it’s been to get over past dating relationship breakups. At times, God has had to pry one finger at a time from my unyielding grasp on “what was” and lead me into the good hope of what God could do with my love life in the future.

How easy it is to fall in love; how challenging it is to get up again after it’s over.

His name was Josh* and he had the kind of blue eyes you could dive into and swim laps in for hours. His easy grin and tousled blonde hair framed his nearly six-foot tall lankiness. We met at a church singles event and we talked for hours.

A week later he called me and soon we were spending most weekends mountain biking, hiking or just hanging out. We went to church together on Sunday, discovered new Thai restaurants and watched movies I’d never heard of. He even rescued me when I fell head-over-handlebars on my mountain bike.

And then it was over.

It was sudden and unexpected—at least on my part. He had moved nearly 1,000 miles away for his job and the relationship unraveled like a kitten with a ball of yarn.

It took me a long time to get over Josh. Maybe you can relate to the sleepless nights, the agony of rejection and the incessant wondering about what went wrong, especially when a man leaves you with virtually no explanation.

Releasing the past is hard because of the loss, the loss of companionship, affection and, for some, the death of a dream—of the marriage or family that could have been.

Also, we mistakenly cling to the idea that we must have this person, this man or woman, who alone will satisfy us and bring us ultimate joy and fulfillment.

So how did I finally “let it go” and move forward after my heartbreak with Josh? It took time and prayer and journaling and pouring gobs of God’s truth into my heart. But it was a small, dried up oak leaf that changed my perspective and brought final release.

One winter day, months after we’d broken up, I was walking along a hiking path lined with scrub oak trees. Most of the leaves were gone by now, but I noticed that a few stragglers remained. Why were these old, brown leaves still hanging onto empty tree limbs? Autumn had passed; it was winter. Their season was over.

And then it hit me.

I was just like those stubborn oak leaves. My season with Josh was over. Yet I’d refused to accept it. I clung to the past and the pain like dead leaves on an oak tree. I knew then that I had to let go of the past. But how?

Suddenly, a strong wind blew and dozens of dead leaves flew off the tree and into the gray, winter sky. That was it! I realized that I needed a force stronger than myself to do what I could not do on my own. I needed the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit to blow in my life and clear away the dead “leaves” of this heartache.

So right there, in the middle of a patch of oak trees, on a frigid day in February, I surrendered my love life to God. I gave him my broken heart and all the pieces of the past.

It was time.

The good news is that letting go doesn’t mean God leaves you with empty hands forever. As you let go, you also hold on. You hold on to hope, to Jesus, the One who loves you most—and you choose to embrace the life He has for you.

Spring always comes. And, in the fullness of time, little green shoots and new life appear again on oak trees. My hope is that springtime will come again in my heart.

And yours.


*Not his real name.

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