It’s been a year and a half since I broke up with someone I loved. I can say in full assurance, it was one of the darkest times of my life. I literally thought I was going to die from the pain. Yet, it was one of the best, and most loving decisions I have made both for myself and the other person. This was the beginning of my journey to contentment as a 30 -something single.

I’ve read a lot of blogs over the years about contentment in singlehood, most were written by married women, writing from hindsight. By the very nature of the author’s relationship status I tended to think that the underlying message was, “once you learn to be content God will bring the right person.” This isn’t what God promises. He never promises changed circumstances. He promises,

Philip4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

I remember reading a blog by Scarlet Meyer, Why I broke up with someone I love. So much resounded with me as I grappled with the same questions,

“I always thought that if you loved your partner, everything else would just fall into place. I’ve learned (the very hard way), that that’s not always the case. You can love the person you’re with and be unhappy. You can love the person you’re with and leave. Those feelings aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Over the course of the last year and a half God took me on a journey of deep healing. Healing I was so unaware I needed. I learned, when God allows something painful in your life you can be sure he will use it for your ultimate good and draw you closer to Him. I had a much deeper issue in my heart than just the wounds caused by my break up. Those wounds were obvious, but hidden under the surface was the real cause of my pain. God was not sitting on the throne of my heart, my ex was. I had placed man above God. I could not honor and submit to an imperfect man when I didn’t trust and submit to Jesus, the perfect lover of my soul. There was a war for my heart and God was jealous over my devotion.

Dt4:24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

For years I was blinded to the fact that I idolized men. I worshiped how they made me feel, the attention they gave me, the comfort they sometimes provided. This was where I found my self-worth. I was a broken girl who grew up without a father, abandoned by her single mother, first emotionally and eventually physically. In turn, I searched for love and acceptance from men.

Clearing my heart of this idol was a process, as was truly addressing the wounds of my past. There was pressing temptation to fall into old sin. To jump into a new dating relationship to fill the void, to not deal with my childhood pain or prematurely proclaim that I was healed or over it. Surrendering over to God was excruciatingly painful and terrifying, yet I knew if I just kept going it would be worth it.

Is 61:3 (NIV) “and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

Our relationship with God and others are two sides of the same coin. My loving union with God should result in a loving union with people. My relationship exposed my lack of love, anger and judgment stemming from undealt with shame and pain. Self-protection is sin, God wasn’t having it.

I needed to learn to love myself the way Jesus loves me, to heal from the past that deemed me unworthy. I needed to let God heal my image of who He was, to truly mourn and forgive my past so I could embrace the present, instead of living in constant fear of the future. I had to learn how to suffer righteously, learning to submit to God when it’s uncomfortable or painful, to do the right thing not out of obligation or allegiance to Christ, but out of the overflow of trust in His unfathomable love for me. It is this loving Lord whose commands are trustworthy.

Our struggles become defining moments in our lives. Don’t ever waste your pain. I had to learn and embrace, “Jesus did not come to save us from pain and suffering but from meaninglessness.” Although I had been saved and redeemed for a long time I had not let God fill me adequately with His love in order to give out of it. Instead I gave out of myself. It was only once I let Jesus fill me that I was capable of love expressed through sacrifice and servanthood.

I’ll always remember when I truly felt freed from the heartache. I had come back from a weekend away, set up on a blind date by a friend. I went, knowing nothing about the weekend yet completely at peace. I was not calculating the future, stressing the unknown or grasping for control. I was able to enjoy, trust and be fully present in each moment. I was able to be my most authentic self. I hadn’t laughed and had so much fun in a long time. I had no expectations that hinged on my acceptance or rejection by the man I went on a date with. I had an amazing time, he was a great man and that was it. Other consecutive moments followed, at work and in other settings, where I was different, at peace, surrendered – contentment had come. Freedom and joy were now more consistently present in all circumstances.

Job 11:13-19 (NIV) “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.”

I’m beyond thankful for what God taught me and how he molded me during that season. It’s never easy but it’s worth it. Had he not pointed out the false refuge in my life, I would not be the woman I am today. I would still revert to the enslavement of control and perfectionism. I would still worship God, but He would not reign Sovereign in my life. God was merciful to bring to the surface sin I was unaware of. My breakup was a defining moment for me. It propelled me to fight for my faith and to allow God to change me. I learned to slow down, anchor in God’s love, and be what I could not be without the healing power of Christ, vulnerable and wholehearted.

Galatians 4:7 (NLT) “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

God has saved me from much heartache by allowing my heart to ache so that he could change me and use me to love others suffering in bondage to their sin and past. He has ignited a passion to love from a place of wholeness and acceptance. I am not too much, I am just right. I am the kind of woman who will inspire the man I end up with by who I am, not who I am now or how I make him feel. I know this, I am now better equipped to love and honor him, whoever he is, and every person God places in my life.

Whether God brings this person into my life or not, I pray He places me where He needs me. I pray he continues to mold me into a suitable helper, but most of all, I pray for those in need of Him around me. I can see them past myself now. I pray in gratitude for all He gives me, daily, and I pick up the fight, daily, to choose His Will over my plan. He is faithful. He is good.

Psalm 136:1 (ESV) “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”