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How to Handle Your First Real Heartbreak

By: Bethany Beal

“Bethany, you’ve got to come to Bible study with me. I met this super cool guy and I think he might ask me out soon!!! Oh, and his best friend is awesome too. Maybe you could get to know him *wink wink*.” 

I was nineteen years old, carefree and enjoying my post high school freedom. A serious relationship wasn’t really on my mind at this point. I wasn’t interested in going to meet a guy for me, but, decided to go for my friend. If one of my close girl friends was interested in a guy, I wanted to see what the dude was all about.

First Serious Love

I remember walking through the church doors, spotting my friend and grabbing a seat next to her. I didn’t see the two guys she had texted me about but assumed we’d meet them afterwards.

As soon as the Bible study ended, Jordan and Bryan came right over. My friend introduced me to her possibly-soon-to-be-boyfriend, Jordan, and then to his friend Bryan.

The next year and a half of my life felt like a blur. Bryan and I instantly connected and became fast friends. He was cute, hilarious and clicked with my personality like no one had before. We could laugh like crazy. Talk for hours. Hang out with my siblings. Do Bible study together. And just enjoy each others presence.

Relationship Time 

I remember the day that I found out he actually liked me. Like really liked me. I was ecstatic. He called my dad and asked if he could pursue a serious relationship with me. It wasn’t long until Bryan and I were official and totally in love. Our relationship had its normal ups and downs, long discussions and working out differences.

I really liked this guy. The thought of it not working out honestly never crossed my mind. I was young and in love for the first time. I assumed we would most likely get married one day in the future.

I was shocked. 

A few months into our relationship I left town with my family for a vacation. I had no idea that during my time away everything would change.

It was the last day of my vacation when I asked Bryan the question, “Is everything okay?” Everything was not okay. Bryan said that he was having serious doubts about our relationship and needed to talk to me as soon as we got back.

In my heart I knew that it was over. 

The last day of our vacation was the most tragic, heart wrenching time of my life. I couldn’t imagine life without Bryan and felt like my insides were dying.

The drive home was long. I immediately met up with Bryan and He confirmed what I was feeling. He told me that after doing some serious thinking he felt like our convictions and lifestyles wouldn’t work longterm.

We talked through the differences and I agreed with him. I wasn’t willing to “loosen” up and he wasn’t willing to “tighten” up. We were done. He broke off the relationship and we both moved on in our separate directions.

My heart was broken. 

The days and weeks that followed our breakup felt like my heart was literally broken and dying. I cried and cried and cried. I sobbed at night into my pillow asking God, “Why did you bring him into my life if you knew he wouldn’t stay?” 

I had never experienced pain like this in my life. I felt like half of me had died and there was nothing I could do about it.

How I handled the following weeks and months. 

The pain was real. I had lost my best friend and the man I thought I was going to marry. I admit it. I cried a river of tears. It was hard.

Although the hardships were very true, I knew I couldn’t live in a depressed and broken state forever. I had to focus my mind on the truth and listen to the wise counsel around me.

I spent hours and hours pouring my mind over Scripture. I read incredible books. I talked with my parents and other wise women around me. I continued living life and kept busy

Thanking God for the heartbreak. 

As one month turned into two and then two into three, I slowly cried less and less. I slowly saw how God was using this ended relationship to stretch me and grow me. I saw how He was teaching me to fully rely on Him. I saw Him teaching me what true love was all about. I saw how He was using this situation for my good and for His glory.

How you can handle heartbreak. 

For those of you who have been through a heartbreak, I can understand. I’ve been through two and they were both extremely painful.

I can honestly say this and mean it with all my heart. I wouldn’t take back either of my heartbreaks. It was during those two relationships that God drew me closer to Himself in ways I’d never experienced before.

If you are willing to follow God, trust in His perfect plan, cling to His Word, pour out your heart to Him, He can use your heartbreak for good as well.

4 Truths to Help You Handle Heartbreak

1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. 

Never stop trusting in the Lord. The moment you doubt God’s goodness in your life is the moment you give the enemy an opening into your life. God is your refuge. Pour your heart out to Him and trust that His ways truly are the best. 

2. Surround yourself with godly wisdom. 

Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t surround yourself with only piers. In the midst of your heartbreak you need godly men and women to speak truth into your life. You need wisdom to help you focus on the truth. 

3. Fill your mind with truth. 

Spend hours and hours and hours in God’s Word. It will renew your heart in ways that nothing else can. It will feel like fresh water being poured over a dry dessert. I personally spent a ton of time in the Psalms and Proverbs. I read through passage after passage and reminded myself of who God is. It was healing. 

4. Keep Busy 

Don’t allow yourself to become a lonely, depressed and isolated person. Force yourself to be around people. Force yourself to get involved in a ministry or serving opportunity. After my breakup I started volunteering at a Pro Life Crisis Pregnancy Center. It was so helpful getting my mind on others problems and not my own. I still had plenty of time to deal with my heartbreak, but keeping busy was a lifesaver. 

Questions to consider 

  • Have you ever been through a heartbreak?
  • Do you believe that God can use your heartbreak for good?
  • How can you grow closer to Jesus through your heartbreak?
  • Which of the four points resonated with you? Why?

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How to Handle Your First Real Heartbrea

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28 Responses to How to Handle Your First Real Heartbreak

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I can relate to the four points you made. Somehow God got a hold of my heart to do those things and it was also after a guy disappointment. Girls, that’s why it’s slo important to save yourself physically AND emotionally. I know some of our emotional heartstrings get pulled, we cry, I know. But severe God and tell him your troubles!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Serve! Not severe. Silly automatic spelling! (:

    • GirlDefined says:

      Great thoughts Elizabeth! I love this, “Girls, that’s why it’s so important to save yourself physically AND emotionally.” That is so true! The heartache after an ended relationship will be so much less painful if their isn’t regret. Thanks for sharing <3

      • Elizabeth says:

        No problem! And thank you for not quoting my misspelled words! Haha
        I want to thank you for sharing the things you’ve learned and for giving us in the comment section, a chance to share some (hopefully) good advice from our own experiences. (:

      • I'mTrying says:

        How do you save yourself emotionally?

        • Elizabeth says:

          Good question! I’m sure Bethany has some good input on this question. As for myself, honestly, I did not save myself 100% emotionally. I let my heart get too attached, but God used that circumstance to teach me some valuable lessons that I will never forget. Some ideas would be…not to spend all your time and energy focusing on your crush or boy friend. If you have a boy friend to whom you have a healthy, committed, relationship, I would suggest investing some time and energy into him, but back to the crush. (= I know some girls who crush on every cute guy they see. When doing that, they are letting bits and pieces of their heart be attached to the guy they have a crush on. I believe it’s really a matter of what your focus is on. Me or God? You might be thinking if you have a crush your focus is on the “cute guy”. But from my experiences, that is not the case. Usually girls are focused on what THEY could get out of a relationship and start dreaming about sweet things the guys might do, how they will act when they see him next, etc. Evaluate each decision before God, is it honoring to Him?
          Hope this helps! I have found that a healthy relationship with God is the best way to mend a broken heart and have hope for the future. I have hope, because Jesus loves me!
          Colossians 2:2&3

  2. Bethany says:

    Prayer is the biggest help to me after a heartbreak. Instead resenting the guy for leaving and becoming bitter and angry, praying for him is the best way to get over it. Praying that his walk in the LORD would become stronger, that he would follow the LORD’s leading, and that in our LORD’s perfect plan he would meet the right person to marry (even if that wasn’t you!).

  3. Elizabeth Williams says:

    That is so sad! I had heard you talk about your past relationships before, but didn’t know the relationships were that serious. It’s kinda scary because everything with your relationship sounded perfect from the start. Can you look back now and see where there were red flags or anything like that? I am still single and haven’t been in a relationship yet but I was wondering, if you could look back and give your 19 year old self advice, what would it have been? Volunteering at the pro-life pregnancy place sounds like an awesome opportunity!

    • Quite Distinguished says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I’m not Bethany, but I think your question is a good one,
      so I wanted to share some of the red-flags that arose in a relationship that I
      ultimately had to break off. (Full disclosure here: I was not blameless in this
      relationship either. There were signs that my heart wasn’t right, and those were the red-flags that I didn’t see until after the relationship was over.) Mercifully,
      God used the red-flags about “Ted” to break my heart to follow God’s path. First I’ll mention red-flags about Ted, then I’ll list the red-flags about my heart condition.

      Ted: (1) He started pushing the established boundaries: At the beginning of the relationship, we established strict boundaries for our physical and emotional protection. My parents had a curfew set for us, and Ted continually either overstayed that time (when at my house), or brought me home past curfew (if we’d gone out). He also pushed the physical boundaries, sitting as close to me as possible, suggesting we pray together—as an excuse to hold my hand, not really for prayer…etc. (2) He became possessive of me and monopolized
      my time: For example, our church college group went to a conference, and he would not leave my side—ever. He didn’t see or understand that I needed,
      and wanted, space to be with other people (including my family) without him
      around. (3) He was overly aware of my appearance: I know this may sound like
      an odd red-flag. Looking back, I can see that he placed excessive importance on what I looked like. He constantly told me I was beautiful—to the point he even made a hurtful comment about my sister’s looks in comparison with mine.
      That he was willing to tear down my family—to my face—in order to compliment me…..BIG problem.

      Me: (1) I wanted attention—especially from a man: I wanted to be thought beautiful. I wanted to be desired. My heart was focused on Me Me ME. He made me feel beautiful by his stares, compliments, and constantly wanting to be with me. He satisfied the idol of my heart. (2) I resisted counsel: My sisters had misgivings about the relationship—though they couldn’t put their finger on the specifics of “why.” However, they were afraid to say anything to me
      because I would lash out at them in anger. Anytime anger is a response to counsel, it’s an indication there is a heart issue going on. (3) I placed my value in whether or not a man would want me: Though I genuinely believe I was already a Christian at the time, I did not understand the full extent of the Gospel. I did not know (heart knowledge) my value in Christ. HE is the one who determines value. He loved me when I wasn’t lovely….when my heart was black and hard with sin. God’s approval is the ONLY approval I need, and the only approval that can ever satisfy the longing of my heart—and that can’t EVER be gained through my appearance or good deeds. God’s approval of me rests solely on the work of His Son Jesus shedding His blood to cover my sin. I can only know His value of me when my eyes are opened to see that He took my blackened, hardened heart of stone, washed and cleansed it in His blood transforming it into a heart of flesh, and turning it toward Himself so that I cry out to Him in repentance….. The ultimate “heart-break” if you will.

      Sorry this is so long….but I pray this may help you identify your own
      heart, and preserve you from some of the same mistakes I made.

      • Allie says:

        Wow! Thank you for sharing this!
        It so true what you say about anger and counsel.

        And thank you for reminding us what Jesus did for us out of His love and mercy!

        The Lord is good to all,
        And His mercies are over all His works.

        Psalm 145:9

      • Elizabeth Williams says:

        Thanks so much for sharing this with me! You have good insights!

    • GirlDefined says:

      @disqus_5YpbXzg7FS:disqus Thanks for jumping into the conversation! 🙂 If I could look back in time and give my 19 year old self advice, it would be this:

      1. Don’t assume that everything will just “work out.” Don’t assume that your differences will just “work out.” Don’t assume that everything will be okay. Don’t assume the best in him every time you see something negative. Be willing to be honest about his faults and your own. Be willing to look at the issues honestly and see the potential problems they could cause.

      2. Think of your life 5-10 years down the road. Where will he be taking you? How will he be leading you spiritually? How will he train up your children?

      3. Look at the people he surrounded himself with before he met you. Those are the people he has chosen as his closest friends. Is that the kind of group you want to be a part of? Is that the kind of person you want to marry?

      4. Ask your dad to openly share with you all of his thoughts and opinions on the relationship. Talk to him regularly and pray over the relationship regularly. Be willing to listen to his advice even if it doesn’t feel good.

      5. Don’t marry him just because he is nice and likes you. There are a lot of nice guys in the world. You need a man who will lead you spiritually. A man who has a vision for advancing the kingdom of God.

      Those are a few thoughts in a nut shell!

      • Elizabeth Williams says:

        Thanks so much for replying! That’s great advice. Usually any time someone has a breakup like that, after some time and reflection, they can look back and see where there were red flags that they ignored, and so I was just wondering if you had any.

      • Elyonara Borges says:

        I loved these words!! Thank you so much!!!

        You’re completely right. I agree with you.

        These words are helping me so much.

        May God bless you!

  4. Mykaela says:

    I went through a terrible heartbreak last year. My situation sounded very similar to yours, except that how things ended was different. Basically, aspects of his character started seeping through that my parents were deeply concerned about, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t see because of my love for the man I thought he was. He did and said some very wrong things, and my parents stepped in and ended it. I trusted their judgement, but for months I broke my heart over him. It wasn’t until a long time afterwards that I heard of some things he had been doing and finally saw him for who he was. How thankful I am now that my parents had the wisdom to see what I could not and take me away from him, and him from me!! And though I wish that hadn’t been my first experience with love, I know that God had a plan through it all…even if I may not see it yet. Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story! It was truly a blessing.

    • GirlDefined says:

      Mykaele, Thanks so much for sharing a piece of your story. What a blessing to have parents who love you enough to do that for you. I can only imagine how hard that must have been. You are so right, God does have a plan and can use that experience in your life to draw you closer to Himself. Praying you continue to seek Him above all else. <3

  5. SavedbyGrace says:

    Hi Bethany! I had a very similar experience to yours. This guy and I, were friends,and then became really good friends! He’d always told people about me, and had always been very sweet, funny, always complimenting me, ect. It wasn’t nessessarily a serious relationship (like us going out by ourselves, or anything) but more of just seeing eachother all the time in church group settings. We always talked, and we were close. His family loved me, ect. There were quite a few things i didnt agree with him on, but bc i loved him, i was blinded by his weaknesses. This went on for four years of my life. Needless to say, we found out that we really just didn’t agree on the real important things in life. Well, long story short, because I knew he didn’t believe what I believed, I knew in my heart I had to let him go. God kept laying it on my heart for some reason, that this relationship was not right in so many areas. The night I made this decision, killed me on the inside. I remember crying my eyes out on my pillow because I really loved this guy. I don’t think he loved me, that’s partially why I needed to let go. But it hurt so much, my heart was crushed, and I couldn’t find a way to stop the tears from rolling down my face. A month after I stopped talking to him, he came to church with another girl:( it was a big slap in the face to see the guy that was mine, with someone else. My heart was unfortunately, in a lot of anger with God. I asked Him the same question Bethany did. Why did God bring this guy in my life if he wasn’t the one for me? Why did all if this happen to me? And now the guy I loved didn’t even care for me at all. God really must have had something up His sleeve if He wanted me to endure all that pain. Well, here I am two years later, and everything that I didn’t understand then, all makes perfect sense now! Turns out that the guy told his siblings and friends that I was just part of a game he was playing. He also wasn’t everything he told me he was. He lied to me about most of the things he said, and he used me! God showed me every reason for why this guy had to be cut from my life. I still live with regret for falling for this dude’s game. But the positive side is now my savior has shown me where I need to be stronger. And in so many ways God has given strength to face life again. And Bethany, you’re right about not letting yourself be secluded and depressed. I should have been around more people, but I wasn’t and that made my case worse. Thankfully, after a pastor told me I had to be around others, God slowly started to heal my broken heart! I’m so thankful for that heartbreak. It was my first, and I pray my last. But if I were faced with another situation like this, I know now, that I don’t have to go through it alone. And that God’s plan for me is far greater than my plans for me.

    • GirlDefined says:

      @SavedbyGrace Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad to hear that you are able to see the situation for what it truly is. What a blessing to have that clarity! God is soooo good and uses these hardships to teach us and draw us closer to Himself. Praying God continues to work in your life as you seek to glorify Him. <3

  6. Allie says:

    I´m going through a heart-break. He is my best friend. Sometimes I wish I could just run away from him, but I can´t. Actually he seeks to talk with me and have deep theological conversations… And to tell me his plans about the future, which do not include me, but include another girl…
    The Lord has been teaching me a lot through this. This has made me run to the Lord for strength, wisdom and comfort. He has shown me many things about my pride, and fear of men. And this has taught me about how easily you can get attached to a guy (it is easier if he is so wonderful).
    It´s been hard, but something that has really helped me is filling my mind with the truth. I´m trying to memorize entire books from the Scriptures, to stay focused on the truth. And everytime I start thinking about him, I redirect my mid to the Bible. I also talk a lot with God, constantly, I confess, I cry, and ask Him to show me how precious and sufficient He truly is. I know it, but I want to believe it and live it…
    Talking about it with my mom also has helped a lot. And when he is around I try to focus in the things I have to do. It is easy to stop and start an interesting conversation with him, and it is more tempting when that other girl is around… But focusing on serving others and on teh things that must be done is helpful and is what I must do.
    I´ve also prayed a lot asking the Lord to remove everything that may be between us. And through this He has shown me many things besides the guy…
    So it´s hard, it will be harder, but I wouldn’t change it. The Lord has become so real, so precious. His Word is so comforting and encouraging and purifying, and challenging. And it makes me desire with all my heart to be with my Jesus, who is perfect and loves me perfectly….

    • GirlDefined says:

      Allie, I can only imagine how difficult your current situation must be. It sounds like you are trying really hard to do the right thing. I would highly encourage you to check out the book, “Idols of the Heart” by: Elyse Fitzpatrick. I read it during a hard relationship situation and it helped me a ton! I think it would be a huge blessing to you during this time. Praying God can open your eyes to truth! <3

  7. Quite Distinguished says:

    Bethany! God has sure used some difficult situations to refine your faith, and through that to bless others. Praise God that He loves you so much that He walked you through both of those heartbreaks. Isn’t it interesting how an item that is broken and then mended is usually weaker because of the break….yet, when GOD heals a broken heart, that heart becomes stronger instead of weaker? The strength isn’t derived from ourselves….and it’s not a strength that “can withstand anything the world throws at me,” but a God-given strength of faith and hope in the character of God, and a rest in His goodness (even when it doesn’t feel good). I have walked the road of
    heartbreak as well (as I’m sure many more have, and will)—and in my case, I was
    the one to break it off. Close to engagement, God mercifully brought circumstances into my life that revealed the true character of the man I was seeing. I praise God for those red-flags…and for wise parents who counseled and supported me in that difficult decision…and especially for the strength of my father who stood in the gap for me (the young man did not agree with my decision to break things off, and continued to pursue me). The Lord also used several dear friends to remind me to “praise the Lord, even in this.” He is good, and the Healer of the broken hearted. He will turn
    their mourning into gladness, and give them comfort and joy (paraphrase of Jeremiah

    • GirlDefined says:

      Thank you so much for sharing with us. Praise the Lord that God opened your eyes to the truth about that man before you married him. I’m so impressed that you were able to let go of that relationship. That is so hard to do. I love this, “He is good, and the Healer of the broken hearted. He will turntheir mourning into gladness, and give them comfort and joy (paraphrase of Jeremiah 31:13)” Such a great reminder!

  8. Taylor says:

    Wow, incredibly timely. You posted this on the second “anniversary” of my first heartbreak. Just today I was pondering how to handle the feelings I have stifled for so long in a godly manner and couldn’t believe it when I saw your post title. Thank you for this encouragement to lift my eyes to my Savior! Blessings to you!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I wouldn’t trade my heart break for the world, either!!!! I remember the day so well when all I could do was just sit and cry. My heart was not completely right then, and I’m still a work in progress. But through that situation God has taught me some VERY valuable lessons.

  10. Eric says:

    This was perfect timing. My relationship just ended last night and I’m heartbroken. We had plans to get married soon, but things suddenly changed and she broke up with me. I’m trying to stay busy and surround myself with godly people, but even that’s hard because of a recent motorcycle accident. Thank you for writing this.

  11. For someone who has never gone through heartbreak, is there anything you would counsel them to do differently to avoid it?

  12. Elyonara Borges says:

    Thank you sooooooooo much for sharing your heartbreak. I’m experiencing one too. It’s hard, but I know that God is on control, I can trust Him with all my heart. Everything is gonna be alright, for He is with me in this hard time. His will is better than mine, I know it!

    “He can use your heartbreak for good as well.” Amen, I believe it!

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