Is It Time for a Clean Break? Knowing When It’s Time to Let Go…




Has there ever been someone in your life that you just can’t quit pining for no matter how hard you try? Like a drug, no matter how many times they can’t commit to you or no matter how many times they hurt you, you keep running back? You say things like “he’s just afraid of love,” or “I know her heart,” or “if we were to just kiss, he’d see how much he loved me.” Or you met in some seemingly supernatural or crazy way, which made you convinced that he or she was the one.

Let me ask you, what is the “fruit” of this relationship? How much space does this person occupy in your mind? In your conversations? Is it healthy? Would your friends say the relationship is healthy?

I had one of these relationships, and after years of tug-of-war and back-and-forth with this person and within my heart, God restored the relationship to its rightful place. What it took was laying the entire relationship down on the altar—more practically, making a clean break.

I mean, how would I ever have room in my heart for another if I was always secretly pining for “him,” thinking he was “the one”?

In all honesty, this “relationship” consumed not only my thought life but my friendship life as I spent so many hours trying to decipher it with my poor friends. This relationship had become an idol. Because I hung pretty much the whole relationship on “signs” and “fleeces” from God that he was “the one”—signs like us meeting on the day I threw out all the remnants of a previous ungodly relationship or fleeces like “If the UPS guy leaves a note on the door by the end of the day, we should date”—I disregarded all the practical indicators that this relationship was not healthy: the consuming nature of it, the back-and-forth, the constant uncertainty, the physical discomfort I felt, his wanting to grow closer emotionally but not date, and later the manipulation I displayed thinking that if only he’d kiss me, he would see that we should date. (Let me tell you, that didn’t change things. He still didn’t want to try dating, and it only led to further confusion and heartache. I know, this sounds like a bad soap opera. I own it.)

So finally, God said, “enough is enough, my child.” And then He spoke the clearest directive to my heart: “unfriend him on Facebook.” I’m serious. God speaks to us practically and knows our culture. He’s a cool daddy. Admittedly, clicking on “the one’s” page was happening just a little too much. So with trepidation, I unfriended Carl (let’s call him Carl) and then sent him an email as to why. And then I went to a café and put all the email messages I had saved from Carl into an unnamed folder. And then I put Carl’s things into my trunk to return them. Strangely, the item I returned to him was a backpack containing a book about packing light.

I’d like to say the next few days and weeks were easy, but I cried and grieved. But one day, not too long after, the clouds rolled away from the sun, and I felt lighter. I once told a close friend that I didn’t know how to let go of this relationship, how to quit this person, that this relationship felt like the tentacles of an octopus or those sticky suction cups that hold up your shower caddy.

But making this clean break not only set me free but set us BOTH free.

If God is directing you to let go, trust Him. It may hurt like heck for a while, but He will heal you, redirect you, and restore you.

Does This Post Bring Someone to Mind?

  • Would you call your thoughts about this person healthy or obsessive?
  • How has this relationship blessed your life? How has it negatively impacted your life? What is the larger list?
  • Do you feel this relationship is growing you spiritually or hindering you from running the race fully?
  • Ask trusted friends what they think about this relationship. Try not to react in defense, but seek to understand.
  • Is it time to make a clean break or shut the door? Ask God for His clear direction as to how to do this. You don’t have to make this break in an ugly or mean manner. You can do so in a respectful, loving way.  Trust that if this relationship is His true will for your life, He will restore it in a healthy form. I have seen a few friends end up with the ones they let go. For me, God took away the feelings, but I am still thankful. I don’t regret at all my choice to lay this relationship down on the altar and fully submit it to His will.

A few months later, Carl invited me to a dinner with a few friends. We had a nice time. I can honestly say that God has restored our relationship to health—wiped the computer clean and returned it to its factory settings. I no longer pine for Carl, and I see him as a brother. I enjoy seeing him at mutual friends’ functions where we can catch up a bit on each other’s lives. While we had relational ups and downs, I am thankful for all the ways he did bless me over the years, and I take full responsibility for the part I played in the confusion. But I know he would agree, because Carl’s honest and cool that way, that we are better now for our clean break.

And so are our significant others.

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

—Isaiah 43:18–19




  1. Reading I thought of how many times, I was in such a place. I know that this sort of mental relationship that feels so heartfelt is not healthy. How many times I wasted my emotions on a relationship that was not really anything much in reality but oh so much in my mind and yes heart. I hope I am wiser and will move on like you and allow a real relationship to enter into my life. Recently I found it is better to let go of old friends who are really not currently living within the parameters of a godly lifestyle. Yes, I suppose when one lets go, it might just be that the very one we let go of becomes right. Years ago I let go of a marriage and desired he would grow up and we could then work out our differences and grow so much in love like we were so many years before. Sometimes I see clearly and know in my heart of hearts, as the Bible questions, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” I suppose that isn’t the exact quote, but the meaning is very clear. Because I am devoted to my friends and those I love even more than friends, I do not clearly see when it is time to really let go. And walk in to the light to a new day. I like the quote by the Pastor I heard who said, “We are our best selves when we are laughing.” So unless I can laugh and cry together with my friends and loved ones, the relationship is very shallow and needs to end. And discuss things even when we do not agree. I had to put that in since it is election time and everyone is so sensitive and wants you to think just like them. And I doubt I will ever think just like anyone else–even if or when I am with my darling love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was a little afraid to read this because of who it could make me feel guilty about, but I’m glad I did. Your writing is getting better and better from post to post, and I felt God’s hand on this one. You definitely wrote on the right topic! I thought of J when I read it and realized he was my Carl albatross. Your words convinced me to question the motives of my heart and put distance between J and I. Thank you for listening to God and writing healing messages like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When a relationship is addictive and/or obsessive ending it can feel like going through detox. Someone told me to pray every day for help to let go of the unhealthy relationship. It worked, after a month, it was like waking up from a bad dream. But I was free to be me again.

    Liked by 1 person

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