Fabric Hearts

This week I made a very important purchase. I bought a new journal. It’s cloth bound, and has not one, but TWO ribbons to keep your place, you know, just in case you’re writing two entries at a time. I bought it because my counselor said it might be a good idea to write down when I get triggered. Hearing about a friend’s Mom’s illness. A lady coming into the dessert shop wearing the same scarf and coat my Mom used to wear. A bad dream. Writing these moments down makes it a little better for me, because when I write it down I can control the story. No longer do these painful moments control the narrative. I get a choice with how I integrate them into my life. My life has two bookmarked ribbons, one is placed between the pages of the present keeping tabs on my daily ups and downs, and the other marks the future. Where I will be, what I will accomplish; many stories I don’t know the ending too.

Sometimes I see trauma or bad things that happen as if our hearts are made of stone. We get hit, and they seem to crack and almost break completely. And God comes to the scene of our wrecks and ruins and binds our hearts back together with brightly colored ribbon. Our hearts become soft, like fabric, but they are made hardier, stronger. Ripping seams can be more tedious than smashing concrete. They clothe our souls instead of keeping everyone out.

So if someone lets you in on their story, and shows you their fleshy and fabric heart, carry it gently. When I worked with kids, we called this trauma-informed care. It meant if a kid came to you upset, you didn’t yell right back at them. When I try to live this out in life, I call it compassion. Because you may find, like Jesus, your own heart breaks. But it’s not about you. No answers are needed. No advice asked for. Let the person be living and sharing a Psalm’s depth, from despair to joy. Don’t push them towards a Proverbs response, until they’re ready. We must live in that tension between David’s questions and Solomon’s wisdom. One was the father, the other was the son. Our questions give birth to answers, but it may take a generation.

It may not be a new journal for you, but take a risk my friend. Let your heart break, not over selfish gain or ambition, let it break into pieces so it can be rebuilt.

9“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

10“I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.

For the first time since her memorial service, I stood in front of a sanctuary of people and shared a little piece of my heart. I was talking about joining small groups and trying to inspire other people, but really I was more personally impacted than anyone sitting in the services. Isn’t it funny how the Lord often works that way? We think we’re doing a “great” thing for him and really he’s doing a great thing to our fallible hearts. Sometimes I really do wish for a stone heart. Something hard and incorruptible. Yet here I am with a very broken and woven heart.

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