The best fortune from a fortune cookie I've ever seen (which wasn't actually a fortune, but are they ever these days?) is one an old roommate of mine had taped on our bathroom mirror. It read: God can heal your broken heart, but you have to give Him all the pieces.
I just love it. Words to live by.
This has been a season of heartbreak. Day in and day out, I've been sustaining fresh wounds or watching as old, buried ones have risen to the surface. It's been a perfect storm of grief and trauma and gosh it's exhausting.
But you know something crazy? I don't mind. I don't go looking for suffering, of course; in fact, I often try to avoid it like the plague. Yet it's just impossible to elude in this valley of tears we inhabit. I think one natural consequence of compounded heartbreak is that we curl up, close up, ward off any more impending pain by hardening our heart, even ever so slightly. But that's no way to live an abundant life, which is all I'm really after. Yes, my heart has been broken again and again. I've undergone the sharpest of pains and the gravest of losses. Yet, only by the wild and mysterious grace of God, I've kept my heart—wounded and fragile and raw as it is—open. Wide open. Fleshy and soft and ready to love and be loved.
There's something beautiful about living with a wide-open heart. I'm readily moved to tears. I am happy to tell my friends how much they mean to me. I purposefully dream big. I gladly ask people I've just met if they'd like to get together for coffee. I welcome questions—about my dad's death, about leaving the convent, about the wild ride I've been on since.
It's not an easy way to live. For most of my life, it has not come naturally to me. But God has broken open my heart in awful (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) way, and I'm content these days to ride the waves of grace that move me along this path of deep suffering and deep love, closer and closer to the very heart of God.
Jesus lived every day of His earthly life with an open heart. He had not a single defense mechanism. No calculations in His love. No notions of self-preservation or mitigating risk. A heart wide open to this world full of sinners, and arms wide open to save them, to save us, on the cross.
We hear of His heart just once in Scripture, when He tells us this:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I wonder: could it be that His yoke is His open heart? A heart ready to be pierced at any moment, not just by a soldier's lance as He hangs on the cross, but by every rejection and hard heart and sin He encounters? It is only a perfectly open heart that can love perfectly. Only an open heart that can truly welcome, be a place of refuge and solace, provide life and light and joy.
It is only in the heart of Jesus, the openest of hearts, where I find rest for my own. And it is only by resting in that heart that I am safe to bring forth piece after piece of my own broken heart, from the tiniest splinter to the most excruciating of pains. Only in His that mine is at home.
God can heal my broken heart, and yours too. Let's keep our hearts wide open, sensitive and soft and breakable, too.
And let's give Him all the pieces.