When I sat down to write this blog post about “opening our hurting hearts to love,” I really struggled. I even put a call into a fellow member of our team looking for some inspiration. Usually writing a blog post for me is about finding the time in my schedule to write what is on my heart, but this post has been different. Multiple times, I sat in front of my computer but just felt like I had nothing to offer, I guess largely because I felt like I had already written this post a few weeks ago.
However, at the time of writing this, the deadline for this post is past due. I sat down with the Lord last night and prayed, “Show me what I am missing” as I was trying to be obedient to our editor and the focus of this post. I believe the Lord is asking me to change my perspective and share a different insight.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the power of forgiveness and how the Lord desires to heal the wounded parts of our hearts. It was the story about a powerful encounter that I had with the Lord on a retreat. You can read that post here.
Although I loved sharing that story, it is a one day “glimpse” of restoration. It does not showcase years of hurt and struggle. It is the “end of the story,” and not the journey.
We hear so many times that “sometimes the best part of any adventure is the journey it takes to get there.”
And while God can work powerfully in our lives very quickly, there is power in reflecting on our journey and how God has walked with us throughout.
Everyday God was working within me preparing me to arrive at that day of restoration.
He is a Way Maker. He is always working. He knew that this moment of restoration was coming with every decision that I made. From the purchasing of my ticket for the retreat I wrote about in my last post, to the Wawa stop for snacks for the car ride to Maryland.
Every decision passed through His hands to work for my good.
Not every part of my journey was easy, but He can “work everything for our good” (Romans 8:28).
There is so much grace when we embrace the struggle to love.
How many relationships would we miss out on if we waited until we were whole? How many people does the Lord place in our life to help us heal from other relationships that have hurt us?
What happens when we are living with hurting hearts? Are we to believe that we can only love when our hearts are made whole?
No… our hearts were made to love. Jesus models this for us in the way that he loved the apostles.
He called them out from their ordinary lives to walk with Him. He showed us how to walk in friendship and love even with those who will deny us, hurt us and struggle to “get” us.
Scripture tells us, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we were created “to know, love and serve the Lord.” It is His love within us that leads us to desire to love others.
However, the more time we spend with others, the more we experience the hurt and pain that comes with original sin. People will allow sin to make them angry, envious, jealous, and selfish. They will choose their own selfish desires over what is spiritually best for them. These vices will lead to hurt, disappointment, and pain in the lives of those around them.
The very people who we want to love us will cause us pain.
In our fallen nature, we will continually choose to guard our own desires, instead of looking after someone else.
So do we just close our hearts to love? Do we protect others from our love which may, in fact, cause them pain?
Whenever our hearts have been hurt, there is a hesitancy to open our hearts to love again. We can fear the unknown. Fear getting hurt again and fear hurting again.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
We will not obtain perfection in love until we are reunited with the Source of love, in eternity. We do not seek perfection in love, but a willingness to offer ourselves to love. We can step into the grace that the Lord offers us through the Holy Spirit, to embrace every moment and situation with open hearts.
Our battle is constantly one of the spiritual realm. We must decrease so that He can increase within us. We must battle the desires of the flesh that are so prone to backsliding into our sinful natures, and instead seek the higher call of holiness that a life with the Lord offers us.
Our battle is not against the flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”Ephesians 6:12
Jesus has given us such a beautiful model of how to live. We can seek His most Sacred Heart as a place of refuge when life seems too difficult. When loving those around us can feel so unbearable, we can ask Him to give us His heart for those people in our life.
There is also vulnerability in our emotions. Jesus modeled that for us as well. In the Scriptures, we learn of the death of Lazarus, who was the brother of Martha and Mary.
Lazarus is often referred to as the “one He loved” in Scripture. John shares with us how emotionally hard it was on Mary and Martha, who greeted Jesus in pain and hurt with the news of the death of their brother. Their faith in who Jesus was is so evident when they say, “If you would have been here, he would not have died.” Jesus allows Himself to experience the emotional hurt and grief that death brings. Jesus models for us the rawness of human nature. Fully God, he was aware that he was going to give glory to God in resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. However, John 11:35-36 tells us, “And Jesus wept.” So the Jews said, “See how He loved him.” Jesus’s grief over the grip that death had on Lazarus was quickly overcome by the joy of his resurrection from the dead. Jesus reminds us that in any “death,” He can resurrect new life within us. When our soul is “dead” to sin, He offers us “new life” through the sacrament of Confession.
Jesus stayed with Martha and Mary in their grief, and He brought resurrection. Jesus can do the same for you and I. He walks with us in our moments of grief, in our moments of sadness, and in our struggles. He never leaves us to battle on our own.
The Lord walks carefully with the journey of every heart. Scripture tells us that we are all in the “palm of his hand.” He never leaves us on our own. We can feel alone in our struggles, but the reality of Who God is, is unchanging. “I will be their God and they will be my people.”
Do you feel weak? Are you unsure of how to love those that God has place in your life? Do you struggle to find the strength and grace to make a difference in your family, in your friendships or even within your own heart?
Then give the work over to Him. When we begin to realize that we can not do anything without His grace, then we allow His grace to work deeply within us. When we open our hearts to love, we open our hearts to be transformed, restored and renewed. As He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).