“Leaver and Broken” a story

Something for a brother or sister in Christ to consider…

I write this story to help friends and loved ones understand what a person goes through in the situation explained here. If you’ve never been in this type of situation, it is indeed impossible to even begin to fathom or understand the feelings and emotions going through the heart and mind of someone in the midst of it. Please read with an open mind and an open heart. I am by not by any means a professional in any sort of counseling field. I am just someone who has experienced most all of this. With the help of a beloved friend, I gained understanding of some of the things I did not directly experience. My hope is that, in sharing this, others can understand a little bit and aid in the healing of the deep pain these situations cause.

A man and a woman are in a relationship. Both are part of the same congregation or group as you. Maybe they are just dating, maybe engaged or maybe even married. (For the sake of my story, let’s say no kids are involved.) From all outside perspectives, they seem to be the perfect couple, deeply in love and using what talents and skills they have to serve the Lord. You are friends with both and care for them as individuals and as a couple.

Now let’s imagine this – one of them decides they want to end the relationship. Let’s call that person the Leaver. The Leaver breaks things off, moves on and leaves the other person to pick up the shattered pieces of what is left of their heart. The person who did not make this decision – the decision to end the relationship – is devastated. They thought they would grow old with the Leaver, have a family and be together until one of them died. The Leaver breaking off their relationship is a huge shock. No matter what is said or done, they don’t want it to end. This person desires to continue this relationship believing they are supposed to be with this person forever. The end of this relationship causes actual physical illness. People think the one left is just being overly dramatic – even the Leaver says so and causes others to believe it’s just for attention. But it’s not. Let’s call this person, the one left to try and heal, the Broken.

Weight loss, lack of sleep and a mind that won’t shut off drive your friend to the brink of insanity. You pray, you listen and you might have to decide who to support, who to remain friends with. There is too much hurt for these two people to remain in contact and maintaining both friendships just won’t be possible. The Leaver seems to be doing fine, moving on and even happy in their decision to end what once seemed to be destined to be forever. The Broken is constantly sad, depressed and just plain miserable to be around. There are small glimmers of hope that the Broken might one day find the happy, joyful person they once were – but they are rare. You get irritated with the Broken. It’s hard to constantly be around someone who is just plain depressing. The Broken tries, but they for sure are not the same fun friend they once were. It sure doesn’t seem that the Leaver is having a hard time. You actually enjoy being around them.

Prayer, counseling and spending time with others doesn’t seem to be helping the Broken. The Broken ends up leaving and no longer being a part of the congregation or group you were all a part of together. You don’t understand why the Broken can’t stay there. Why should it matter if the Leaver is still there? They can do separate things still, right? It shouldn’t rip the heart out of the Broken to hear the voice of the Leaver… we are all adults, right? The Leaver seems to be okay with this all so why isn’t the Broken?

Then one day while spending time with the Broken, you snap. You are sick and tired of the whining, the complaining and the downright depressing manner of speech that has taken over your once joyful friend. You have run out of patience. Everything you try to do to cheer the Broken up only backfires. The Broken has an excuse for everything, a bulldozer for every building and a shoe to smash every bit of hope you try to offer. It’s been months! The Leaver is already moving on, dating again. Why can’t the Broken?! They are depressed and you are done… so you say “Can’t you just get over it already?!”

Wrong thing to say. The Broken shuts down. Maybe you feel that way – they need to just get over it– and I get that. It’s hard to be around someone who is constantly depressed. You just want to slap them, to cheer them up and to get away from them all at the same time. You don’t understand why the Broken can’t just move on. May I give you some perspective?

Let’s say that the Broken has only had one or two serious relationships. Ever. This end – this breakup – it’s HUGE. It’s more than just a breakup, it’s an entire shift in the life of the Broken. A shift they did not see. A shift they did not expect. A shift they did not want. A shift that the Broken had absolutely no say in. Nobody gave the Broken a choice. This is a huge shock. I’ve heard it said that it takes half or even sometimes the full length of the ended relationship for the Broken one to fully heal. One can not expect someone to heal from an ended relationship instantly. Especially when it wasn’t their idea. Your expectation for the Broken to move on and just be okay is unrealistic. As a brother or sister in Christ, listen. Love. Pray. Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. Unless you’ve been there – you have absolutely no idea of the deep, intense pain.

I would never EVER expect a parent to just “get over” the loss of a child. I would never expect a child to just “get over” the loss of a parent. (I understand that the death of a loved one is indeed different – while this case is not a death, it often feels as a death to the Broken.) Hearts need to heal. Hearts need time. It’s true that a new “normal” can and will be established, but it’s not an instant or overnight thing. If you are not in a place to offer the support and help that the Broken needs, then be honest and tell them that. Telling them to get over it or offering insincere help just adds to the hurt. Church and spiritual leadership needs to step in and walk alongside this person. Find someone who understands – someone who can listen. Sometimes the hurt just needs to be poured out (yes, even if it’s the same things over and over and over again) until there is room for some healing to come in.

The Broken has been abandoned by the Leaver and in many cases – by a lot of friends as well. They may have been included in each others families and have also lost all of those people as well – people they grew to love. Each abandonment makes the wound deeper. Their families, homes and possibly even work and church environments have been turned upside down. You may hear things from the Leaver and assume they are true. The Broken is too broken to defend what is being said or maybe isn’t aware of what is being told. Rumors, lies. They add to the wound of the Broken. A wound that is ripped open at every sighting of, every sound of and every mention of the Leaver. A wound that can’t properly heal because it’s not being cared for. There’s no telling what will cause a breakdown. It could be a song, the sight of an eating establishment, smell of a certain cologne or even a shirt seen on another person. Memories have triggers and memories can hurt.

Sometimes the Broken puts on a brave face and all seems okay, maybe even happy. But then something happens that rips open the wound. Again. You wonder why the Broken seems to just be getting worse, but your eyes are blinded to the wound. How can a wound heal if not properly cared for? I know we are not talking about a physical wound here, but think about it… any wound needs time. Even a paper cut. How can it heal if it’s not cared for? Then there are the extra hurts to consider. On top of the Leaver leaving, the Broken has the hurts of abandonment from losing other friends and family. The hurt of you (or someone else) making it clear that they don’t want to be around the Broken anymore. Another rejection, another abandonment. These hurts add salt to the wound, dirty it, and make healing more difficult. Maybe even causing the infection of bitterness to move in and take over.

As you watch the Broken struggle, you may be wondering about forgiveness. As believers we are supposed to forgive, right?! Right! We are. And the Broken has forgiven. The Broken has spent hours in prayer asking the Lord to help them to forgive the Leaver. That forgiveness has led to a certain amount of healing. However, just as burying a love one doesn’t release all of the hurt and pain of the loss, forgiving the Leaver doesn’t erase all the hurt and pain the Broken has felt. Maybe you feel that the Broken should be able to forgive and forget, to move on and to be a part of the old group with the Leaver, to be friends with them. While Jesus does ask us to forgive, I have never been able to find any example in scripture of Him requiring us to maintain friendship with or to trust someone who has hurt us in the past. Forgiveness is necessary. Trusting and maintaining a relationship with the Leaver is not. Asking the Broken to do this is definitely not acceptable or helpful to the situation.

Loneliness. This is something that plagues the Broken. Well intentioned friends invite the Broken over for dinner. They plan times out to see a new film, grab some dinner or maybe coffee. They meet for lunch. Share a bible study time or maybe go for a walk. These are wonderful things – and please don’t stop. The loneliness that the Broken is experiencing is so much deeper. It’s being lonely when you have nobody there to do nothing with. Nobody next to you as you watch the television in the evening. Nobody to comment to on the funny way the toothpaste looks on your toothbrush as you get ready for bed. Just being alone. This is something I myself have yet to conquer, but I know it’s very difficult. When the Broken tells you they are lonely, just listen. Pray for them. Pray that the Lord will help them fill the voids. They are huge voids. Even if the past relationship never led to marriage or was a lonely marriage, they are huge voids.

If the Broken is ever to heal, there needs to be friends who come alongside and just listen. Let the Broken vent, encourage the broken. You can be frustrated – that’s fine, but please, PLEASE be careful to not add to the wound, to make it bigger, to cause infection to set in. Protect the wound. Let’s not cause the heart of the Broken to need amputation, to cause this person to become heartless. With care and prayer, this heart can be restored and healed. A broken heart can be a beautiful thing if the healing has been carefully guarded. It may help to think of the Broken as healing or detoxing from an addiction. A lot of the same symptoms crop up with one who is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. The heart of the Broken needs to be carefully cared for and guarded. Exposure to the Leaver may indeed cause a sort of relapse or breakdown.

Leaders in the church need to be particularly careful. As a pastor, vicar, elder or other leader it is your job to shepherd this flock. Just as a shepherd wouldn’t ignore a sheep with a broken leg, you should not ignore or neglect the emotional wounds of the Broken. Let’s say that a pastor, elder or some other leader in the church should choose one person over the other. In this choice, one person is neglected – abandoned. Your job as a shepherd has failed. I know we are not perfect – we are flawed, sinful human beings – but do not abandon even one of your sheep! They are your calling!! Each and every one of them! If you are not equipped to help the Broken, if you don’t know what else to do – then please do all you can to find them the help they need.

This world is already so painful and broken. As brothers and sisters in the Lord, let’s do our best to take care of one another. We don’t need our churches to break and fall apart, too.
Sincerely,
a woman who has been the Broken
(with some help and input from a dear friend,
who has also been the Broken.)

Acts 20:28-30 (NKJV)
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

1 Peter 5:1-4 (NKJV)
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

About Alicia

Alicia is a Jesus loving, homeschooling, mini-van driving, food loving, gluten-free-cuz-I-have-to-be, fun loving, choir mamaing, bike riding, So Cal born and raised solo mama to 2 amazing kiddos with 3 cats, a ginormous dog and the 2 cutest nieces ever! She had a deep passion for cooking and baking that left with her Celiac disease diagnosis in 2013, but has now returned as she experiments with and tests recipes to make them delicious and enjoyable even without the gluten! You can find all sorts of random thoughts, ideas and whatever else pops into her completely random mind right here at Big Black Trash Bag!
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