This Heart is Alive

heart_with_sun_optThe heart is a funny thing.

It has great capacity for pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow.

It can be rejoiced in, delighted and treasured…
Ignored, stepped on, and squelched.

It can know gratitude, the joy of giving to others…
as well as the bitterness and helplessness bent on control and protection.

And it holds stories.  My, it is full of stories.

But one day, we wake up, and we cannot feel what we want to feel.
We don’t know how it happened, and we don’t know what to do about it.
But all we feel is empty. or a ache in our gut. or a jittery sensation that can’t rest.

And who would want to sit very long with those kinds of feelings?

So we fill our heart with other things.
Busy activities. Excess food.  Excess drink. Excess TV, social media, or entertainment. Things that temporarily satisfy, good gifts taken to a harmful extreme.

Or instead of filling, we empty, creating rules that make us feel safe.
No more alcohol.  Bring on another diet.  White-knuckle your way to a new you.

The ironic thing is that both filling and emptying can have the same effect–killing the heart. And the darned thing is that we can’t kill pain but keep joy.  They come together in the same package.  Toss sorrow out the window and delight disappears as well.

“This Heart is Alive.”  Can you say this of yourself?

I picture an army surgeon surveying the battlefield after a devastating fight, looking for signs of life.  Many hearts become casualties along the path of life.  “Quick–We’ve got a live one right here!” he shouts!  Nurses and medics rush over to bring care and comfort in the midst of pain.

This is similar to what a helpful counselor does.  Undaunted, she’s seen this before.  She surveys the wound and brings vital nourishment.  She doesn’t give up when discouragement reigns. She offers a hopeful vision for where the healing process is headed.  Sometimes it’s acute pain in the present.  Other times it’s long-buried scars from the past.  Or perhaps a confused and hopeless future. Either way, there are times for all of us when we need a skilled and compassionate guide to walk alongside and point the way for awhile.

If you’re like me, there are days when my heart plays dead.  Days when I prefer anesthesia.  But there are other days.  Days when delight and freedom win the day.  And if you’re like me, those days make you hungry for more.