My friend Mercedes posted this painfully true statement on my Facebook page recently as I was grasping about for subjects for my blog: “The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking.” Truth is often found in pain and though I haven’t asked what prompted Mercedes’ very profound statement, suffering rolls off of the words like the resonant soundings of an old piano. Love is like that, every note that we ring out brings the echoes of a thousand sacrifices mind; echoes of a thousand failures that we look back at with sorrow and sweetness; a thousand friends who would die for us but betrayed us, who healed us and injured us and healed us again. Sometimes it seems too much to handle and we build Sting’s famed fortress around our heart, or seek the wilderness, withdrawing from the things of man, like in Joe vs. The Volcano. It’s when you get back up and return, bleeding, to life that you make the realization: the scars have made you strong. Far from making incapable of loving, the heart grows with each break.
Each time we kneel down to pick up the shattered pieces of our hearts, the act itself is a prayer of hope. And as we put the shards back together, knitting them with tears, our heart expand to include things we never thought we could feel or do; make no mistake here, love is about the doing even more than the feeling. And the reality is, our hearts must grow. We spend our lives, if we are committed to overcoming our darkness, trying to recover from the selfishness we are born with. I know some of you who read this think of childhood as a time of purity and innocence, it is! It is also a time of self-focus while we learn how to live in the world around us. Some folks never grow out of it and that self-focus becomes selfishness. But every act of love breaks down the walls of selfishness a tiny bit. The greater the sacrifice, the more it breaks our selfishness to pieces.
The Bible tells us in Psalms 34:18 that God is close to the brokenhearted. I know that not everyone who reads this blog believes exactly as I do about Christ and the Bible, but I want you to see a couple of things from the book I reverence and maybe you can understand why. Look at these beautiful words about love from the Apostle Paul written to the Christian church in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 13
The Way of Love
1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. 12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love!
As you read through these words don’t you find yourself realizing that you can’t live, love, up to this standard without getting hurt? You will be beat up and bloodied, but of the things that remain that lead us towards the light, love is the greatest. In the gospels, Jesus dies for love, and the truth is, that is the pathway to a living heart. We reach out with wounded hands that are barely healed from the last experience and our heart breaks and breaks, on its own journey toward being a thing of beauty.
I hope your days are blessed and full of life, but if you must suffer today or tomorrow, suffer for love and let your broken heart live.