Owner of a Broken Heart

I am. So are you. But healing is possible.

By Jesse Flores

Red felt heart broken into two halves on a pink background.

It is impossible to go through life unwounded, unscathed, unhurt.

That’s just the nature of living in a fallen world.

For some of us, the trauma is real and severe – abusive parents, sexual assault, the witnessing of murder, death, and destruction.

For others of us – particularly those blessed with good parents, good lives, good communities – the wounds may be less traumatic, but are still present.

In all cases, the wounds leave imprints in our heart.

Humans are great at learning. And we’re engineered to learn things that help us to survive – and thrive. After all, that’s how evolution works – you adapt to survive and thrive.

But sometimes, in an effort to adapt (or survive), we learn the wrong lessons. Expedient, maybe. But, still wrong.

When our hearts are wounded, that is often what happens.

Our hearts get wounded and so we put up a self-protective barrier that says, “Never again!”

Except, when we do that, we close off a little part of our heart to love.

Do that enough time and we get what we want – a self-protected heart. But, what do we give up in the process? The ability to give and receive love.

A Better Way

When our hearts are wounded, it hurts deeply.

And it should.

We are made for love – to give love and receive love – and when that part of our being is violated, it affects us at our core.

It may not seem like it at the time.

And others may tell us “it’s not a big deal.” Or to “get over it.” (Advice that usually comes from a wounded heart, itself, that doesn’t want to enter into the empathy/vulnerability that comes with connecting at that level with someone.)

But, it’s important to acknowledge the wound.

To name it.

And to offer it up for healing.

Take a moment and imagine that you get a cut on a rusty nail. What would you do?

I imagine that you would go, clean it out, but some hydrogen peroxide on it. Neosporin. Maybe get a tetanus shot.

But what you wouldn’t do is nothing. Pretend it doesn’t exist. “Get over it.”

If you were to do that, the chance of infection increases. The chance of healing decreases. And the pain only gets worse.

Our hearts aren’t fundamentally different, just less apparent.

Even ‘small’ wounds can become infected, if we don’t address the wound. Cleanse it. Allow it to heal. Get a (divine) tetanus shot.

This, more than anything else, is the healing that Jesus claims to offer. That God yearns for. The healing of our hearts, so that we can give and receive love.

Yes, the Bible is full of miraculous physical healings. And, yes, these healings still happen.

But, as Jesus reminds us:

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Matthew 15:18-20 NABRE

Our wounds don’t have to define us.

But, very often they do. Very often, they have outsized influence on our judgements, our decisions, and, ultimately, our character.

If you find yourself committed to a perspective that often leads you to be irritated, angry, or anxious, there’s a good chance that, at the root of the perspective, is a wound that needs healing. If you find yourself short-tempered, cynical, numb, or jaded, there’s a good chance that there’s a wound that needs healing. If you find yourself struggling with gratitude, joy, or peace, there’s probably a wound that needs healing.

Jesus came so that we could “have life and have it abundantly.” This doesn’t mean so that our lives can be carefree or free from suffering.

Our wounds don’t have to define us.

That’s unavoidable.

What it means is that we don’t have to live enslaved to our pain. Enslaved to our trauma. Enslaved to suffering. A victim, incapable of reaping the wonderful fruits life has to offer – fruits of love, friendship, gratitude, joy, and peace.

Healing the wounds may be painful.

You may need professional help.

You definitely need Jesus’ help.

So, I encourage you to think of something that gives you a negative emotional charge – politics, your kids not listening to you, the unreasonable demands of your spouse, whatever.

Then, ask Jesus to heal the heart wound that predicates that charge.

“Jesus, I trust that you can do all things, including healing my broken heart. I do not know what’s causing {insert behavior/feeling here}. Please reveal to me the wound in my heart that needs to heal. Then, please heal it. Thank you, Jesus for your kindness, love, and healing. Amen”

Do this as often as you find yourself agitated and you’ll start to see crooked paths become straight, lions lie down with lambs, and joy in your heart.

God bless you.

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