You know it’s time to go your separate ways.
Fill in the blank: Breaking up is _________. Needed. The answer is needed. Breaking up is needed.
I know, most of you thought breaking up is hard to do. And because it’s such a popular saying, we’ve come to believe it’s true. But it doesn’t have to be. Breaking up can be the best, not hardest, thing you’ll ever do.
Because my teenage daughter takes multiple dance and Tae Kwon Do classes, I find myself traveling 20 miles, one way, four days a week. While she’s at her classes, my husband and I often spend that time at a nearby man-made dam. While there each spring, we excitedly scan the long-standing eagle’s nest for eaglets. This year there were two.
And every year, camera in hand, I capture the eagles—in the nest, perched on another tree limb or fence post, and soaring. Oh, the soaring! I long to mount up and soar with wings as eagles. I think we all do, really. And yet we remain bound to the things of this world. But God invites us upward and onward, above and beyond our present circumstances, our faulty beliefs, and our complacency. He invites us into the realm of freedom.
What is required for such freedom? Breaking up. We must break up with the mindsets that lead to faulty thinking, the attitudes that pull us down, the sins that hinder us, and the habits that hold us back. Like a bungee cord that whips us back into the nest, we are unable to soar as we’re meant to do.
This breaking up begins with some deep honesty within us, because let’s face it: some things we just don’t want to deal with. It’s easier (but not better) to go through our days on auto pilot. Been there, done that, dripped the chip dip on the t-shirt.
I don’t know about you, but I want to break up with myself.
More specifically, I want to break up with the person I’ve become but never truly wanted to be.
Increasingly, I’ve been feeling like the skin I’m in isn’t really mine, metaphorically speaking, of course. And so, it’s time to break up. Here are some things I’m breaking up with:
Whose opinions matter too much to me? Pretty much everyone’s. (I did say this requires deep honesty.) And on the honesty note, here’s something you don’t know about me: I hide my bingo wings in near elbow length sleeves every sizzling summer—that’s how concerned I am about other people’s opinions of me. Complete strangers, no less. Not feeling at ease in my own skin starts right here, folks.
Right here is also where it needs to end. I’ve decided to camp out in Proverbs 29:25 (GNT) for a while: “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the LORD, you are safe.”
I mean, does it really matter in light of eternity what someone thinks of my underarm flab? Caring too much about the opinions of others is essentially placing them above God. So collectively, let’s just agree right now that the only opinion that truly matters is God’s—and He thinks we’re awesome, right where we are on the way to where we’re going.
What mindsets do I have that need to be changed? After further introspection related to multiple mistaken mindsets, I can easily see that there’s a singular conjoined root: I’m not good enough. Every faulty mindset can be traced back to this core belief that took root in my early childhood. For clarification, a mindset is an established set of attitudes held by someone. Our core mindset takes shape in childhood, and unless we’ve already been thoroughly transformed by the renewing of our mind in accordance with Romans 12:2, we probably need to break the mold and start fresh. Breaking up with unhealthy mindsets will enable us to overcome a plethora of limitations that have been holding us back.
What fears are preventing me from moving forward? While I am afraid of failing, I think my greatest fear is the fear of man—laughing at me, rejecting me, mocking me, or hurting me.
Rightly so, the Bible relates the fear of man in terms of a trap: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV).
When we’re living in fear of man, we’re basically trapped, unable to live freely.
No matter the fear, it’s okay to feel fear, but it’s what we do with that fear that matters. We can allow it to paralyze us, or we can take a deep breath, trust God, and keep moving forward. Fear is a narcissistic controller, and we don’t need to be in that kind of relationship. Fear of the Lord—now I’m all for that.
What unhealthy attachments need to go? Sadly, this was far too easy for me to answer: emotional eating. Stressed. Bored. Angry. You name it. Whatever the emotion, I tend to turn to food and don’t even realize I’m doing it. Because it’s an attachment that latched on in childhood, I know now that it’s still attached simply because I never proactively broke up with it. Well, that’s changing.
Any attachment that is ungodly in nature or puts itself above God in our lives will hinder our relationship with God and with others. According to Scripture, we’re to be attached to God alone (see Exodus 20:3 and John 15:4-5). As we decide to put Christ first and abide in Him at all times, unhealthy attachments will be easy to break up with.
Where in my life do I continue to repeat a cycle that results in me feeling “less than”? For me, it’s the cycle of “stare and compare.” In relation to the whole not-comfortable-in-my-own-skin matter, I more often than not find myself staring at other women and comparing myself to them—and coming up short, literally and on every other level imaginable.
After years of the stare and compare game, I’m ready to break up. Stare plus compare equals despair. Nothing good has ever come from it. Staring and comparing is a destructive cycle that prevents me from being my own brand of beautiful. It causes discontent and ungratefulness and is essentially saying God made a mistake; He didn’t. I am, in fact, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
Whatever negative, destructive cycle you find yourself in, it can be broken. No matter the struggle, God is greater. As we turn off the auto pilot and begin living intentionally, these cycles will be easy to recognize—and break up with.
What habits are hindering my progress? When something pops up, big or small, I tend to immediately zone in on it, analyze it, try to figure it out. I focus exclusively on what is right in front of me, whether it’s an unexpected change of plans or the death of a loved one and all the ensuing implications. In my pre-Christ years this was my default; post-Christ, it’s been a difficult habit to break.
But thankfully, any habit can be changed. Breaking up with this habit requires that I look to Jesus first, that I go to Him before trying to process anything. Allowing any problem, situation, or circumstance to become a distraction prevents effective processing and resolution. What I see with my physical eyes is not my reality; Jesus is.
Maybe the habit you need to break up with is yelling at your kids, interrupting others, or presuming to know someone’s motives or thoughts. Whatever it is, determination and a reliance on God means change is on the horizon. No longer does any habit have to trip you up—break up and be free to soar.
Because remember, breaking up is needed.