There are few things universal to the human experience. Heartache is one of them. We may feel it differently, process it differently, react differently… but make no mistake, we’ve all experienced heartache.
And the thing about heartache is that no one wants to experience it, and we will do whatever we can to avoid experiencing it again once we’ve been through it before. We will run, deny, avoid, and even tell ourselves and others around us lies, all in some attempt to amputate the process of feeling the real hurt.
Yet there is no topic written or sung about more.
It happens. It just does. Heartache is one of the many things we want to have control over in life. But we don’t. Still we try to exercise control over it by trying to numb the pain with alcohol, food, sex… anything that will make us feel good, even if just for a little while. And to deal with heartache in this way can lead us to very scary places, places that attempt to detach us from real life and real pain.
I am not proud of this, because I am no longer a teenager. But I cried myself to sleep Saturday night. I did. I felt like a fool and a martyr and drama queen and a baby the whole time. But my heart hurt, and although I hadn’t cried myself to sleep since… I don’t know when, in that particular moment that was how my body chose to express that heartache. As I seek to write with more courage, I also seek to feel with more courage. Like my last post in this series on expectations, about feeling the disappointment, I was trying to feel my heartache rather than avoid it.
The human heart is fragile not only physiologically, but also when it comes to sin and emotions. There is a reason God warns us in Proverbs to guard our hearts against sin, and there is a reason the middle of our chest physically feels hurt during heartache. It is the wellspring of life. Our heart is our very center. Because our heart is our very center, to avoid and ignore heartache would be to stunt our emotional growth.
Batter My Heart
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to’another due,
Labor to’admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly’I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me,’untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you’enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
– John Donne
There is a promise to repair our heartache.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
I wish it was easier. I wish heartache wasn’t part of life and part of expectations. But just like every part of the Fall of man, God has made a way to redeem it. Don’t stop that redemption with your own ways. Allow God to batter your heart and make you new.