Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A heart affair

heart flowerLots of things have steered me toward the heart this week. I'm reading Spa for the Soul and found some thought-worthy quotes to share:
And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezek. 11:19)

The strength of vulnerability is a curious mix of discovering your heart and sharing your real self, as best you can, with the people God has put in your life. You can't shut down on the inside without quelling the very passion that makes the journey worthwhile. Those walls around the heart take buckets of energy to maintain, and God has better things for His children to do. When we close off our hearts we dishonor Him. As difficult as it is to live with a vulnerable heart, it is far easier than camping out behind a facade.
(Paula Rinehart, Strong Women, Soft Hearts)

According to heart specialist Dr. Dean Ornish, the real epidemic people face today is emotional and spiritual heart disease--loneliness and isolation. He says we are losing the relationships and intimacy necessary for survival and healing--the social support that provides us with a sense of connection and community and also the emotional support that gives us a sense of purpose, meaning, and belonging. (Dean Ornish, M.D., Love and Survival) When we close our hearts, we cut off all connection to others who may be helpful in our healing process. A closed heart lessens our risks but narrows our options.

I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart. (Jer. 24:7)

When God renews our hearts we no longer have to focus on what has kept us emotionally or spiritually clogged. Listen to one woman's declaration of independence: I am not a woman who is conformed to my pain, whose self definition is the litany of sins that has been commited against me, who would have little left if I were to lose it (my pain). No. I am a woman whose soul is forming to God. I cannot control how others treat me, but I can control my own response. I choose to relate to others based on my own character, not theirs. that is a tremendously freeing concept! My soul, formed in its becoming to the dimensions of God's love, can extend forgiveness, even when the other person is not worthy, never says the word 'sorry' or ever shows a grain of remorse. My offender has no power over me. I hurt, but do not become stuck there. I grow beyond the break and eventually past the power of the pain.

For out of this wellspring of our soul flows all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our hearts that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know Him and learn to live in His love. (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance)

I have walled off my heart and I have opened my heart. In my experience open is better. Open journeys with others and healing comes quicker. Open releases the pain, not the memory. Open enables me to feel your pain, offer hope and allow you to heal. There are still a couple of areas where I bump against the wall. Having the freedom to be honest with close friends helps. They know what those areas are and love me and pray for me and pray with me. They laugh with me and bring things back down to size. They want my best, which is to live without stoney walls and to have a heart of flesh. When I am not walled off my whole heart is free to fly to God, to trust Him and live in His love. A heart of stone is really heavy. I want to lose that weight!


Blogger Susan said...

Really, by opening our hearts, what do we have to lose? We have everything to gain.

We may become wounded, but how does that happen? We are never wounded by God. We may have a wrong done to us. We may have a wish unfulfilled. Or an image of ourselves that is not reflected back in the opinion of others. That's happened to me and yes, it's hard.

But to get over it I had to redirect my attention to the One who never disappoints. To what is permanent and consistent and dependable. To what endures beyond all circumstances. Easier said than done, but do-able all the same.

And in the meantime, with an open heart, I get to experience all the best and worst that life has to offer. Even when it isn't the best of times, I am connected and active and living. And in the best of times, I'm living vividly, getting big scoops of a joyful life. Not dulled. Not just shallowly or fearfully skimming the surface of joy.

9:46 PM  

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