On Broken Hearts and Great Stone Walls

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“It feels like there’s a gaping hole in my heart,” she says.

“It feels like someone shot me through with a cannon,” he writes.

And on and on the descriptions go. Our broken hearts can feel so many ways. But when tragedy strikes, when what we love most is taken, then we feel this unendurable ache. Maybe there is a gaping hole in your heart. Or maybe there’s a better story to explain the hurt.

Over the course of our lives, we have erected walls around our hearts, closing ourselves off from the community until it is just me. Some pains just added a brick. Others constructed thick walls, fully formed within moments. Broken friendships, uncertain surgeries, unexpected deaths. School troubles, relationship issues, family problems. All these and more afflicted our hearts. As as time went on, we noticed someone trying to break in through the walls we had built for our heart’s protection. Terrified of the invasion, we threw up new walls as quickly as possible. The work wasn’t shabby either. We were practiced in our art of isolation.

But we had a problem.

The more walls we threw up to protect ourselves, the less room our hearts had to live and grow. Finally, as we experience the most recent hurt, we find that we have built the walls so close to our hearts that every blood-pumping beat pounds the walls. But our weak hearts are too frail to make an impact. The walls remain, standing firm after years of effort to build and maintain them. The beating heart scrapes the wall but makes a poor battering ram. We are too tired. The walls remain.

Except now–once again–we hear the intruder outside the walls. Only now we have a choice. Do we look out and see who he might be? I do.

Only now, I see that he is You. And I try to scream for help, but no words come. Yet You hear my groans, my cries echoing up between years of walls. Upon hearing my tears, You begin ripping down years of walls. The walls are a part of me, though, and Your work is agony for me. Combined with the ache of my throbbing heart repeatedly rebounding off the stone walls, it is almost too much to bear! But You must tear down the walls if I am to be rescued. So in my immeasurable pain, I seek Your strength. I collapse, weak and seemingly alone, locked in a prison of my own creation. All the while, You are tearing down the walls with an incomparable fervor. Someday–and I pray it is soon!–You will tear down the final wall and comfort my freed aching heart. Jesus, how I need you!

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