By Emilee Burroughs
It was at midnight the Wednesday before graduation when my then-boyfriend called me and broke up with me. To say I was devastated would be a huge understatement. I was looking forward to seeing him on one of the biggest days of my life to help me celebrate my graduation from college. Three days away from this huge milestone, I was laying in my bed sobbing while my friend hugged me.
Even as I write this two months after that night, I still feel a sharp pang when I think about how heartbroken I was. He was the first man I had ever loved. I felt so free to be myself when I was with him — I could be goofy and completely let my walls down. I felt like I could speak my mind around him, that is until I realized I couldn’t.
He broke up with me because I dared to have an opinion that was different from his. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was controlling of my emotions. We would go weeks where everything seemed fine, but I knew it was only a matter of time before he would blow up about something I had unknowingly said or did. He would become so angry with me that I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around him.
I cannot tell you how many tears I’ve shed over him because he would ignore me. I had anxiety attacks and sleepless nights because of him. It wasn’t healthy, and I knew that we needed to break up. I had gone from being a confident woman about to graduate from college to a girl scared that her boyfriend would leave her because she said something he didn’t like. And then one day he did.
He did apologize after we broke up for some of things he had said and done, but there was so much more that happened that he didn’t own up to. It took me awhile to learn to forgive him — and myself — for what happened. I had to stop blaming myself for what had happened and for the poor decisions I had made in our relationship. I had to turn to Jesus and allow for Him to heal me.
Kesha’s single “Praying” just came out a few days before I decided to write this. I have her song on repeat because it speaks to me. It’s a song that talks about healing from an abusive relationship and realizing your strength. It’s also about learning to forgive the person who hurt you.
“I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying. / I hope your soul is changing, changing. / I hope you find your peace/ Falling on your knees, praying. / Oh, sometimes, I pray for you at night / Oh, someday, maybe you’ll see the light” are my favorite lyrics from this song. Like Kesha, I prayed for my ex. The only way I could fully heal was to learn to forgive him, and prayer was one way for me to do exactly that.
In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (New International Version). Jesus instructs us to forgive the very people who hurt us. The world tells us to hang on to our hatred, to play the victim, and to never forgive the person that had hurt us. But all that does is make you feel miserable. Praying for those who have wronged you does miraculous things: it gives you empathy and peace and draws you closer to the ultimate Healer.
Forgiving my ex was difficult. For months after our breakup, I replayed moments from our relationship in my head to the point that I was tormenting myself by dwelling in the past and allowing resentment to build up. I do not want to sound like I’m victimizing myself—far from it. I did and said stuff that I’m not proud of, and like in any relationship, I wasn’t perfect, either. But that doesn’t excuse his treatment of me. However, I had to realize that his anger came from a place of mistrust and hurt from his past. He, like me, is a broken person in need of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, he didn’t allow Jesus to heal him.
So, I pray for him daily, asking Jesus to heal his heart. I pray for him to become the man that God wants him to be. I pray that he will grow closer to the Lord.
I realized that the only way for me to ever find peace was by “falling on my knees / praying.” I had to let go of my shame, I had to let go of the past, and I ultimately had to let go of my resentment towards my ex.
I’m far from being completely healed. It still hurts really bad whenever I think about him. I still love him because I saw the good in him. He’s a good man, but he needs Jesus to make him into a better one. And I need Jesus, too, to make me into a better woman. We all need God’s forgiveness and healing.
So, while my heart is still in pain, I’m healing, one prayer at a time. And you, sweet reader, will heal, too. Let Jesus heal your heart, and the best way to let Him start doing that is by praying for the one that hurt you. Because they need healing, too.