Disclaimer: This is not a Christian commentary on the song by Ariana Grande, but a piece that reflects on how we could be genuinely grateful for a relationship that has ended, and come in to a lasting one.

Relationships are one of the best gifts that God has given us. They bring us joy, love, and excitement. Because of relationships, we get to share experiences with the ones we love and build memories together.

Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. There are relationships that drain our energy, suck our joy, and leave us practically lifeless. These toxic relationships can come in many forms. But since it’s February, let’s talk about it in the area of romance.

The Broken Root

Merriam-Webster defines toxic as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.”

In the case of relationships, it is defined as any relationship that poisons us by bringing us further away from being the person that God created us to be.

Toxic relationships can look like any of these:

  • A relationship that compromises purity and holiness. This isn’t limited to just physical intimacy, but includes other things—how you talk to each other, think of one another, or trust one another;
  • A relationship that operates under forced submission, where one or both parties are resigned to serve the other out of obligation (i.e. sakal);
  • A relationship that operates out of fear and drives one or both parties to perform for love (e.g. posting constantly on social media);
  • A relationship that isolates us from our key relationships (i.e. family, church community);
  • A relationship that prevents us from doing what God has called us to do (e.g. studying, pursuing a career)

The list could go on. But in all these, the clearest sign of any toxic relationship is one that doesn’t honor God.

But how does a relationship become toxic? First, we have to acknowledge the fact that we’re sinful. We are all flawed.

Relationships are only magnifiers of our own issues. They magnify anything that is sinful and broken in us. The wounds that we might have carried from our childhood, parents, or school are exposed within a relationship.

What this means is that even before we got into these toxic relationships, we ourselves were broken people who just brought in our issues into the relationship. And these issues come to the surface in different ways.

Despite this, we want to tell you that there is hope!

The Broken, Healed

The word “healing” is a verb that indicates progression, meaning the healing process is really a journey and never a one-time thing.

God wants to heal the wounds in our hearts, and sometimes the best way for us to receive healing is by being wounded through the situations that God allows to happen.

Think of it like an open-heart surgery where you need to be wounded on the outside to let God heal you from the inside.

Conflicts in relationships can be the first cut for us so we can discover the deeper wound inside.

In this case, God could very well be using this relationship to expose and heal a wound from our past. And once we are ready to embark on God’s healing process, He will begin to work His way into our broken lives.

With this, here are some tips for you as you go through your healing process:

  • Don’t give yourself a deadline to heal. We all have different timelines. Embrace God’s healing process and let Him do His job;
  • Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s healing story. Plagiarism is not God’s thing. He is writing your personal healing story, and He is in the process of writing your love story;
  • Guard your heart against the enemy’s lies. Women have the tendency to think that they aren’t worth fighting for or that they’re not not good enough to be pursued. Men, on the other hand, have the tendency to think that they failed in their leadership as a man;
  • Release all forms of bitterness. A dating relationship that ended, no matter how painful it had been, was a successful one. Dating is supposed to be a season where both parties get to know one another enough. It’s a season to hear from God if they’re both meant to take the relationship into another level — marriage. If it ends, God may lead you to either take a break so He can work in you individually, only to lead you back to each other again, or you will find Him leading you both to someone else;
  • Do not isolate yourself. Stay connected. Ask God how He wants you to maximize this season. Also, remember that healing cannot happen apart from a community. Relationships, in the context of community, stand a better chance of remaining healthy and God-honoring.

What we’ve discovered in our personal journeys with God is that the process of healing may take a while because He is preparing you for something greater in the future and He wants you to be a bit more whole and healed.

The Broken Whole

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

(Colossians 1:17)

God is before all things. He is the one who puts us in relationships, and He’s the only one who can hold all things—including relationships—together.

Apart from the grace and mercy of Jesus, all relationships are in the danger of becoming toxic. But because someone perfect is holding the relationship together, two broken people can stay in a whole relationship.

A relationship does not guarantee that your heart will never be broken again. A relationship will break your heart countless times, but when you’re with the one God has for you, they’re going to stick with you and help you mend what’s broken.

Many times, you will break their heart too. It would hurt, and it would hurt the both of you. But this time around, both of you will stay until you both get better. You will cry together, heal together, and get better together so you can love each other better. Together.