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Beyonce, feel your pain and let Jesus fill you up
Bryant told me that the song “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé was really more about the triumph of a woman kicking an adulterous man out of her house than a painful break. I think he’s right. (Although apprently, Neyo wrote the song for her. Here's his version. Some profanity is in this one, so you're warned.) But I think it also is a non-emotive song that is about someone who has been wronged. I think it’s better to express your emotion than to fake not having one.
First of all the song is called irreplaceable. And allegedly it’s about her boyfriend not being irreplaceable. Does she really believe that? She’s the one that brought it up! Of course he’s replaceable, why would you ever think he’s not? And why’s the song called that if he’s totally replaceable? Maybe replaceable would be a better title.
So I’m just not buying her refrain yet. Don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin’ you’re irreplaceable?
The truth is no matter how crappy the relationship is, breaking up is hard! It’s an incredibly painful process. You kind of just want to tell Beyoncé—hey, it’ll be OK. He is replaceable. You don’t even need to write a song about him. Let’s just feel it!
The Bible doesn’t talk a lot about breaking up. Dating wasn’t really a thing in Bible times. It was more about marriage, even then, the question of divorce for Jesus was laid out in the law. Jesus changes that. Whereas, previously it looked like it would be OK for a man to divorce his wife so long as there was some sort of certificate, Jesus (in Matthew 5, and Mark 10) says it’s wrong, except in the case of adultery. Both parties end up being adulterous if they divorce
Jesus thinks that marriage actually is a God-inspired act where male and female are made one flesh. Jesus is actually arguing that sex and marriage are an act of God where two people are joined.
This partnership that’s formed is lifelong. The basic framework that Jesus is working with is that sex is united and marriage means something for our whole lives.
Jesus’ argument then is if you tear apart that bond by having sex with someone else, well, the marriage is no longer in contact. You can’t really, nor ideally, be married to more one person.
Ultimately, it is better to stay together than to separate.
But the truth is that doesn’t always happen, does it? Even if we know that our connection to someone might be forever, usually it seems like breaking it is a better plan than not doing so! Usually we break up because there are unmet needs in a relationships, feelings of betrayal and hurt that can’t be sorted out or aren’t worth sorting it out, and the conflict gets too intense to handle. Sometimes abuse, adultery, and addiction are involved.
Many of the problems that are in our relationships come from ourselves and not the other person. This isn’t always true, I know. But we are generally responsible for our thoughts and emotions and we need to act that way.
Whether you stay in the relationship or leave it, give yourself the opportunity to do the self-exploration with Jesus to really figure out what went or is going wrong. It’s not an easy process and I hope I don’t make it too simplistic for you.
Even though I think we’re all responsible for ourselves, I think it’s really important to allow grace to saturate us before we try to solve any problems. Be gracious with yourself. Don’t beat up yourself up so quick when things aren’t going right. And resist blaming someone else for the troubles. Just try to love and to forgive. It’s too challenging to navigate relationships in a hostile environment.
But stay humble, sometimes we feel so entitled to our own grace that we forget that someone else is needs it too. Sometimes we think we’ve hurt, abused, and ignored ourselves for so long that we can’t bear to nut just loudly express our emotions in a hurtful or accusatory way. Sometimes we just blow up and we think we are justified. I don’t think we are. It might feel good at the time, but I don’t know what good it does ultimately. Especially to us.
Allow yourself the space, the energy, and the capacity to feel all of the pain that you need to feel. Resist the rebound. Feel the pain, know yourself through it, and try not to harbor resentment against someone else—as opposed to just dealing with the hurt that you are experiencing. That hurt that, whether or not it’s your fault or not, is important to experience.
Feel alone, feel the pain, and feel that Jesus did it too. Every trouble, trial, and tribulation that you experienced, the God of all felt. He is the ultimate sufferer. Don’t use the joy and the hope that Jesus offers you as an excuse to not be in touch with your pain. Feel it and know it.
In the Old Testament, there’s a story about a woman who was widowed. She loses her husband in this case and she’s going to lose her boys too because she doesn’t have the money it takes to pay her debts.
One moral of the story is to get in touch with our own poverty, our own emptiness, our own loneliness. Bring your empty vessels to Jesus and let him fill them up. He’s in you, even if it’s just as a small jar of olive oil. Becoming in touch with our emptiness will let that little jar fill you up. The work starts with ourselves.
We can’t change other people. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, I really think we can bring our best selves to relationships. Our spouses, significant others or lack thereof, will disappoint us. If the key to our happiness is always in them changing—will we ever be?
We are vessels that hold the Spirit of God. We’re the body of Christ and we hold Him and represent Him. Bring your best to every circumstance, and most notably bring it to the people you love. The break up might just end in self-justification, or you might read this and really hope your spouse reads it too, but I really think it starts with ourselves.
If you didn’t think this applies to you because you yourself are widowed or single or celibate, it still might. This is all about the pain of being human. Take advantage of the opportunity to feel the pain. Thank God for it, actually. You’re feeling something. It’s so hard to do that these days anyway. And use it to know yourself, connect closer to your Creator, and allow him to fill you.