I watched him drive away in my rear-view mirror. He was gone, for the last time.
The grief washed over me as I thought: What have I done?! Did I make the right decision? What if I never find someone better? What if he was the best I could get, despite our issues and despite the lack of peace in my heart?
I went home and felt like the loneliness was already suffocating me. Curling up on my bed, I cried and cried.
What I didn’t know that night was that my Father-God had something so much better in store. Someone so much better for me. And an adventure to fulfill during my singleness. I wasn’t sure yet if I was really better off without my boyfriend, but someday I would learn that I was.
So if you, too, are going through a breakup…or if you’ve just found out your crush is interested in your friend…or if a guy was pursuing you but suddenly decided he just wants to be friends…then this is for you.
Here’s why you’re better off without him.
1. There’s someone who’s a better fit for you.
I’ll never forget the first time a guy dumped me. I was so mad! How dare HE dump ME? If I’d known it was coming, I would have dumped him the day before just so I didn’t have to be rejected! (I know, what a mature response.)
A few months later, after God had been working on my heart for a while, a friend of mine said, “I still can’t believe he dumped you! Someday he’ll realize what he was missing.” And then the most surprising words came out of my mouth:
“You know, I don’t think he will. If we weren’t right for each other, then no one is missing out on anything.”
Even as I said it, I had no idea how true it was.
Now that I’m with my husband, James, I am so relieved I didn’t marry any of my ex-boyfriends. Not because there was something wrong with them; in fact, some of them were amazing guys, but we just weren’t right for each other (our life goals didn’t line up, or I didn’t have peace in my heart about the relationship, or the way we handled finances already created tension…and so on). It almost scares me to think about how difficult marriage would have been if I had chosen one of my exes simply because I was afraid of being alone.
James, on the other hand, is such a good fit for me that marriage is almost easy. We definitely have our difficulties and struggles, like any married couple does, but our marriage also feels natural. It’s so right. Our personalities, goals and values are beautifully suited to each other.
If I were to do it all over again, I would make exactly the same choices I made, except I’d probably break up with those boyfriends a whole lot sooner—as soon as I saw the red flags—instead of staying with them because I was afraid of being single.
So in this moment, remember: God has good plans in store for you, something that’s an even better fit than the relationship you envisioned.
2. God is offering you a gift, even in the pain.
Recently I was pregnant with my first child, only to miscarry. The grief felt like it was crashing over me as my heart broke in two. But in the subsequent weeks, I realized God was offering me two extravagant gifts as I walked through the pain.
One was a new sense of closeness with Him. He was walking right beside me, crying with me, holding me in the heartbreak. In fact, I had the same experience when I broke up with my first boyfriend (who I thought I was going to marry). God came so close to me, it was like I was breathing Him in with each breath. It was so beautiful, such a gift. I think sometimes in the hard seasons, God invites us into a deeper sense of intimacy and awareness of His extravagant love.
The second gift was greater compassion and empathy. I felt like the grief of my miscarriage made me more fully human, just as my first breakup did years ago. I was able to relate in a new way to people who’d been through suffering and loss.
I once heard a speaker say that diamonds are displayed on black cases because they shine all the brighter there. She said that God, too, hides extravagant gifts in our darkest seasons. Start asking God what gifts He’s hiding for you in this season.
3. Even rejection can be a form of God’s direction.
Remember that first time I got dumped? Well, right after that, a friend gave me some wise advice. He said, “Tiffany, if I had to choose out of every person in the world who I would marry, I’d never be able to make the decision. Just look at this as God narrowing down your options. This is God directing you.”
That blew my mind: Rejection can be God’s direction.
Since then, I’ve been rejected many, many times. Not only by guys, but also by jobs that didn’t accept me and people who didn’t approve of me. Rejection hurts like nothing else, but each time I’ve been able to look back and see God’s hand at work. For reasons I couldn’t understand at the time, that job or that guy or that friend simply wasn’t a good fit for me. God had other plans in store—and they were good plans.
4. You have more time to do what you love.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve already pulled up your ex’s Facebook page, looking for every dumb thing he’s ever posted, or enlisted your girlfriends to remind you of every single negative quality he possessed. That can feel good for a hot minute, but it doesn’t help anything in the long run. It actually backfires because you’re still thinking about him. You’re focusing on why you don’t like him anymore, which means you’re still focusing on him, which makes it even harder to get over him. Instead, focus on something else.
I think in the hard times, when our minds are playing the past on repeat, it’s an amazing opportunity to step outside of ourselves and serve other people. Maybe you can volunteer at your local soup kitchen or in Sunday school, or help out a new mom. Find someone you can serve and you’ll find a way to take your eyes off of your ex for a little while.
When you’re single, you often have more time to pursue the things in your heart. That could be playing sports, serving, mission work or investing in friendships. One of the dreams in my heart was to travel and speak around the world. While I was single, I got to travel and speak all over the United States. I’m so glad I used my single time wisely and can look back with joy on all the adventures I got to have with my Father-God.
It’s easy to live our entire lives always looking for the next thing: for marriage, then for kids, then for that promotion, then for retirement and so on. But if we live that way, we’ll look back and realize we never lived at all. So even as you’re waiting on God, use this single time wisely and live it to the fullest.
5. Your worth is unchangeable.
I often felt as though all the kind and beautiful girls had boyfriends. I figured that if I didn’t have a boyfriend, it meant something was wrong with me. So any time I was single (75 percent of my teens and 20s), I felt like I was worth less than everyone else. Or as though somehow I would be worth more if I had a ring on my finger.
But our worth is unchangeable, because it doesn’t come from boys. It comes from a God who loved us so much that He went to every length to win our hearts. Not only dying on the cross, but also in the way He pursues us even now.
I once saw a speaker use the analogy of a dollar bill. He held it up and asked, “How much is this worth?” The answer was clear. Then he had a student come up and stamp on the dollar bill, pour water over it and crush it in the dirt. Then he held it up again and asked, “Now how much is it worth?”
The same is true of you and me. We may feel as though our hearts have been crushed, or that we are dirty and invisible and not beautiful enough, or that we’re too far gone. But our worth has never changed. There is only One who can define our worth, and He says we are worth the life of His own Son.
Whether we’re single or married, we will always find a reason to feel unworthy unless we finally come to believe, at our core, that we are defined by God’s love. So even now while you’re single, begin to base your life on how God sees you.
6. God is a good father.
That’s the lesson that changed everything in my singleness. During the first half of my 20s, I was desperate for a relationship, afraid that all the good guys would soon be out of stock. In the second half of my 20s, I started to believe that God was a good Father. And as I was faithful to follow His guidance, and also open to relationships and meeting new guys (see an article all about that here), I trusted that He would guide me, and that He loved me. And that even if I ended up single for another decade or forever, we’d take it one day at a time, and it would be okay.
My friend Joel once told me: “Tiffany, God hasn’t called you to walk by fear; He’s called you to walk by faith. Faith that He loves you and that He’s a good Father.”
I took his advice. And now, looking back, I am so glad I did. I feel so grateful that I got to share my single 20s with my Father-God (see an article on that here). Those single years became some of the most beautiful years of my life thus far.
One final note: Even as you remember why you’re better off without your ex, don’t forget to allow yourself time and space to grieve.
It’s okay and even important to allow yourself to grieve the loss of a relationship, or potential relationship. If you stuff all the emotions inside and never feel or face them, they will turn into bitterness and become toxic.
There’s no time limit on how long you should or shouldn’t feel sad. For some people the sadness lasts a few hours, and for others it can last months or even years, just depending on how serious and long the relationship was. It’s okay to feel that sadness. The important thing is to experience it all with God, knowing He’s right beside you, and with people you trust, whether that be mentors or wise friends. Stay in community and stay close to God, but allow yourself to grieve, so that one day you can heal.
And then you, too, will see why you’re better off without him.