Why You Two Broke Up

I got a text from a friend last week, “Adam and I broke up.” It was too bad since last month I had drinks with her and Adam and they seemed to be really happy together. It just doesn’t make sense. It raises the question, “Why did this happen?”
I know what you’re going to say, “It just wasn’t meant to be.” When I hear people say that so easily I want to make them do something really difficult like eat a whole plate of spaghetti with a single chopstick. There has to be more to it than that and as a Christian I want to know what God thinks of the whole thing also. Going through Scripture and finding some time to think about it I came up with a few ideas.

~One of you kept the other from getting to heaven~

It’s pretty clear in Judeo-Christian theology God is a pretty jealous God when it comes to where we end up for eternity. He wants us with Him and nowhere else. It’s possible that one of you kept the other from doing that. I don’t mean that you were just annoying and made the other person frustrated, that kind of stuff gets people to heaven. It was probably something more substantial, a mistaken world vision, a philosophy of life that’s incompatible with Christianity or—hey, we’ve all got them—moral shortcomings. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul” (Mk 8:36) even if he was the world to you, it wasn’t worth it; and as St. Augustine so eloquently put it “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” If someone keeps you from the path to God it’s understandable that God will try to do you a favor and keep you from them.

~One of you took the other for granted~

This scenario is a little more direct but certainly possible. Western culture has a reputation for taking things for granted all the time: our health, our salary, our environment, our paved roads…. It’s plausible that we’ll also take fairly good people for granted, also. While a girl in Malawi is willing to date someone who can just come home in the evening and put meat on the table—literally—we need someone who fits a two-page psychological profile, above average income, at least 5’7 and always leaves the toilet seat down. We pass up many good people on the way.

A good person, like anything else good in our lives, is a gift and it’s pretty clear what happens in the Gospel when people take gifts for granted (Mt 21:33, Mt. 25:14). God may just take it away and give it to someone who will appreciate it; and if God has taken you from someone else that may just be his plan. Someone, or perhaps even several people, out there, need you and will appreciate you more. I remember after one break-up about 2 years ago I started reaching out to people in ways I normally would not have. For the next month, I made a lot of people happy and built some good memories from it. God took me from someone and gave me to others.

~Free will, man~

This is the last scenario and most jarring. You were both right for each other, you both appreciated each other, but for some reason one or both parties decide to not make it work. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it happens. That’s free will, as free as eating forbidden apples. It’s the oldest lesson in the book (Gn 3).

In this case, I have a pretty good deal, I have most of what I need but for some reason I just choose something different. Maybe the reason was that a relationship wasn’t a priority, I had a bucket list; I simply just wanted to try something new, like Adam and Eve. Even with a reason, though, it doesn’t make sense and that’s the beauty and curse of free will. We can make dumb decisions and God lets us. Years down the road, we can’t push the affair off to fate, “it just wasn’t meant to be”, or even “it wasn’t God’s will.” We’ll just have take responsibility that we used our free will to make a dumb decision in that moment, learn from it, and try to make better ones.

Fortunately, whatever the reason for you breaking up with someone or someone breaking up with you, it’s not the end of the world and God never abandons (Dt 31:6, Ps 111). As long as you’re breathing there’s probably other things you can do with life, which by the way, doesn’t last forever. You have a finite amount of time on planet earth and if it’s not meant to be with a particular someone, it’s probably meant to do greater things and shared with someone else.