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When breaking up is hard to do

From the March 2006 issue of The Christian Science Journal

You're breaking up with me?

I couldn't believe it. I had never been dumped before, and it stung. But what hurt more was that this was a guy I really cared about. I was so devastated that some mornings it was hard to get up and get through the day.

At first I was so absorbed in the emotion of it all that I didn't even think I could turn to God or to Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures the way I usually do when something's not going right. But feelings of rejection and missing this guy went on for too long, so I called a Christian Science practitioner. I guess I wanted more than just to get over my ex-boyfriend. Deep down I knew that what I really wanted was to feel closer to God.

During our phone call, I told the practitioner a little bit about this guy, our relationship, and about how awful I was feeling. Then came the surprise. "Molly," she said, "God was saving you from that relationship."

Saving me from the relationship?

I have to admit that I was a little doubtful at first—and not just because it wasn't what I'd expected to hear. I had cared very much for this guy, and we'd been committed to each other—in what seemed to be a good relationship—for quite while.

And yet, her words really hit me, because on some level I knew she was right when she said that God had saved me from the relationship, and I realized that I was being given a very practical piece of information about God's protection. What the practitioner meant was that God, who is our Father and Mother, quite literally removes us, His children, from harmful situations.

Not that the relationship had been harmful in any obvious way. But as I thought more about the practitioner's words, I realized it hadn't been good for me. Here's why: I'd been approaching the relationship from a human perspective, instead of from God's.

The guy I had been dating was in many ways "popular," and I had always been really impressed by him. He was attractive. Successful in his field of work. He even lived in a hip neighborhood. And, yes, there was a part of me that had liked being with him for those reasons. It kind of caught me off guard to realize that—to recognize that I had been motivated more by my own sense of things than by God's.

Through Christian Science, I've learned what makes for a real, lasting, and satisfying relationship. It's one based on Spirit—where spiritual qualities come first and God is at the center. Not that everything about this relationship had been superficial. But in hindsight I could see that in many ways it hadn't been the real me involved with this guy at all, because the real me, the real each of us, connects with others on a spiritual level. Popularity, success—all the material measurements of someone's worth—don't really figure into the equation.

As I prayed and got more help from the practitioner, I began to see that the process of getting over this relationship was so hard because it was really part of the bigger struggle of rejecting what's "popular" or "accepted" —what you could call a material or false concept of things—in favor of all the good God is giving His children. Through it all, though, God was holding my hand and comforting me. The breakup wasn't a punishment—it was actually just God gently revealing that He had something better for both of us.

Through Christian Science, I've learned what makes for a real, lasting, and satisfying relationship. It's one based on Spirit—where spiritual qualities come first and God is at the center.

I was starting to realize that moving on didn't have to be painful or miserable, but instead could be freeing, even happy. Instead of feeling that emptiness inside of me—like I was missing someone—I was growing more grateful for my closer relationship with God. Instead of obsessing over the breakup, I became aware that I was experiencing a small success against a form of error and matter—that through my prayers, what I was really doing was pushing through what is unreal to the spiritual reality I hadn't seen before.

These were very helpful and healing insights, but I still didn't feel like I would ever completely get over this ex-boyfriend. And in spite of the fact that I could now clearly see how various aspects of our relationship had been unhealthy and unproductive, a tiny part of me was still secretly wishing we would get back together.

Then one evening, about a month after the breakup, I was driving home from a new friend's house when I felt a freedom I'd never really experienced before. This friend was someone I had met in the new city where I was living, and although the relationship wasn't romantic, it was a really meaningful friendship based on shared interests and an appreciation of spiritual qualities.

To be honest, I had never thought I could enjoy being with another guy again without thinking of my past boyfriend. But I realized during that drive that I had just spent a whole day with this guy friend and never once pined for my ex. That friendship was proof that God always gives us the exact companionship we need, right when we need it. I felt so happy, so close to God, and so free of the past pain and depression. It was liberating! And I knew I was healed. As if to emphasize the healing, there was a rainbow outside my window as I drove home. I could hardly believe what a perfect symbol it was of what had happened — a peaceful calm after the storm, hope and restoration in place of sadness.

What has really stuck with me from this healing is the fact that even situations that initially leave us devastated are actually opportunities to find greater joy and satisfaction. Some people might call it the school of hard knocks—learning a lesson from a tough experience. But Christian Science promises much more than that. The challenges that come up aren't there to defeat or discourage us, but rather to help us move on to higher joys.

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