Category: Prayer

How to Heal a Broken Heart

People disappoint us. We give them our time, our trust, and maybe even our secrets, and sometimes, they don’t protect it like it deserves to be protected.

People are true too. They are loving and devoted, generous and tender. But the ugly and beautiful aren’t always distinguishable on the outside. Or maybe its that each of us are a mosaic blend of ugly and beautiful fragments..

When we entrust the beautiful parts of ourselves to people who are careless, our hearts can feel beat up, broken, or even hardened.

God thinks out hearts are pretty important. So important that, “from (them) flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Rejection has a way of bruising my heart. Intentional or unintentional hurtful words burrow in like thorns that cause sharp and unexpected pain. Sometimes I know why my heart is hurting, but I’ve let the pain grow so deep, that I have trouble figuring out exactly where it started, like finding a splinter in a callused foot. My heart can start to get callused from wear and tear, pain forming a barrier that makes me feel less and less.

A once fleshy hearts can become so solid and impervious that it repels instead of absorbs. It can build layer after layer of self protection that shields from feeling any emotion. It fortresses itself against life, instead of being a pipeline of love to the surrounding world.

God knows the condition of our hearts. He knows that we need His grace poured into our heart cups—that we pour that grace into each others heart cups to be whole again.  His grace is the antidote to a hardened heart. It is the elixir we need to be able to love.

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I use to admire the people who let tragedy, disappointment, and rejection ping off them like the flat rocks that skid across smooth water. My life would be so much less complicated if I cared less; if I felt less.

But God calls us to experience the world through loving hearts that feel, and hurt. He wants our hearts to beat and break for the community around us. A heart too tough to absorb the pain, may mean we need a heart transplant. We need God to remove the hearts that have curled in on themselves and hardened. Because tender hearts that hurt and feel, are sensitive to God’s molding and shaping, refining and defining as we engage our worlds with vulnerable hearts, willing to be known.

As a kid, I always felt ashamed when an unkind word or mean glance caused me to cry in front of my peers. At some point, we learn that being tender hearted is a bad thing.

My four year old is starting Pre-K. I’m feeling typical mommy nerves over what this year holds in store for her. But I think my biggest fear is that my daughter will begin to learn that she can’t wear her heart entirely on her sleeve. Her heart is so visible, pulsing through every inch of her little body and pouring out of her intensely blue eyes. Her heart is open and tender, and untouched by the world’s wounds. I love that her heart is like a vibrant paint, that spills and colors every part of her life with intensity and feeling. When she cries, it is with earth shaking sobs and big gliding tears. Her anger curls with a hook in her brow over great betrayal and injustices. Her joy, is so intense that it beams from her face like sunlight that brightens a dark room and helps you to see. When she loves, it is a passionate, kisses all over my face, look me deeply in my eyes, kind of love, that I know she feels with every fiber of her being.

As adults we learn to stuff, swallow, or hide emotions. We don’t want to feel too sad, so we numb it with pleasant distractions. Nor do we want to feel too happy, it could lead to disappointment. So we are divided by happiness, and anticipation, as we wait for the other shoe to drop. We don’t give ourselves over to the throws of anger, even at injustice, because adults are suppose to stay even tempered. And love, well love seems okay as long as it is returned to us in equal amounts. If we love more than we’re loved in return, then the imbalance can pose a risk—and rational adults don’t like to gamble with their hearts.

But then there is God. A God that whose heart is pure, passionate, and pursuing. He rages over injustice, cries out and weeps, He loves and longs for us like His bride.

God takes risks in relationships. He meets us more than halfway. He gives more than we can ever repay. He loves and forgives when we don’t deserve it.

Callused hearts are rendered useless by unforgiven hurts, dark and unmet longings, and deep seeded pains that can’t ever be completely unrooted or explained.

A world without God makes our hearts harder and less feeling. But God makes our hearts beat like new again. He replaces the heart that is twisted and scarred and knows too much, with a new heart of flesh that beats supernaturally for a world that needs more of us—a world that needs more of Him–a world that needs love.

Gratitude is a lot Like Raspberries

 

raspberries gratitude in motherhood

I hesitate to take the thin plastic container from the fridge. I bought them for eating, but then there’s the matter of rinsing them clean. They’re not always the easiest fruit to snack on either. Somehow my kids find a way to spread the pink juice on their fingers and around the corners of their mouth. My grown up toddler smashes them on her tray and then runs her sleeves in it.

Raspberries. They’re even spelled differently to emphasize their explosive nature. They look like innocent pink clumps, but under a bit of pressure they burst. Eating them is a sensory overload of texture and taste. Tart, sweet, crunchy, juicy, messy…yes…raspberries.

This morning as my kids popped them in their mouths, pleasure spreads like gratitude, all over their hands and faces…

Finish reading this post over at Fresh Hope for Mental Health!

 

Watching You Grow with “No” and “I Love You”

Disciplining in Love

Disciplining in Love

Your smile eclipses your face with sunshine. I want every day to be sunshine, filled with secret giggles as our heads share a pillow; filled with drawing Crayola hearts and walking with your hand in mine, with shared baths overflowing with bubbles and your face poking around every corner asking “mommy whatcha doing?”

I anticipate years ahead when we will go out to lunch and share french fries and inside jokes. When I will squeeze in the dressing room with you and zip up dozens of prom dresses to find the perfect one, and the late nights we’ll sit on the kitchen counter, barefoot in our pj’s as we eat chocolate chip cookies from the pan as you tell me about boys, and mean girls, and teachers with smelly breath.

I dream of the day you call to tell me that you met the man you are going to marry, and the day you dial my number with trembling fingers because you’re holding a test with two pink lines.

Right now I see a little girl smile with baby teeth and chubby cheeks, but I know that the radiance of your smile won’t fade as your face softens into the angles of an elegant woman.

But as much as I relish your brilliant smile, I know even now, that every day can’t be all sunshine.

I realized in that moment, that this is just the beginning of our game of tug of war as mother and daughter.
I look back on earlier this evening when I yelled at you for plucking every dress off the hanger and piling them into a messy heap of pink tulle and lace on the floor. Your little body pantomimed a perfect pout, with your arms crossed and lower lip jutting out. As my gaze traced a tear running down your face,  you pelted my chest with the wounded words, “Mommy, you make me so sad.”

I realized in that moment, that this is just the beginning of our game of tug of war as mother and daughter.

There will be days when I say “no” more times than I can count. When you will think I am the meanest mom in the world. When you will keep secrets from me. There will be days when we will fight and you’ll throw hard, angry words at me.

I remember, with a lump in my throat, the harsh, jagged words I launched at my mother. Words like “you’re stupid,” and “I hate you.”

Despite your sadness and anger, I will need to set boundaries that guide and protect you.

But no matter how many times I tell you I love you, the NO’s will echo louder, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated.
Right now, you want to eat chapstick and wear the same Minnie Mouse dress until I peel it off your sweaty body. At six you’ll probably want to subsist on Doritos and Pop Tarts. At 13 you may want to wear short skirts and watch R movies. Maybe at 17, you’ll want to stay out past curfew with a boy or drink a beer at a party.

And as your Mom I’ll shout and whisper “No!” and “I love you.” and “No!” and “No!”and “No!” and “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.

But no matter how many times I tell you I love you, the NO’s will echo louder, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated.

But when you want to turn on the music and drowned me out, just remember the persistent whisper, “I love you.” And when it feels like my “no’s” are like  the bricks of a cement wall, also know that I don’t want to wall you in, but to protect you from decisions that will take away your freedom.

If your smile fills my heart with light, then your sadness creates the dark clouds that threaten the sky on a rainy day; .your tears have a way of pounding on my chest with a dull, persistent ache. But as much as I hate to see your tears, I know that without them you wouldn’t grow.

In the same way, God delights in our smiles and laughter, but He loves us enough to also allow seasons of struggle and tears that help us to grow.

In shouts and whispers, He answers our prayers with “no’s” and “not right now,” and “wait.” We become frustrated at a God that loves us too much to let us subsist on mediocrity and compromises.

But in the quiet moments as we struggle with a tug of war in our heart whether to trust in what He is doing, we hear His quiet, persistent whispers “I love you,” “I love you,” “I love you.”

 

Thank you for reading “Disciplining in Love.” This is one in a series of letters I am writing to my daughter with the goal of compiling them into a book. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is crap. You can do better.”

 


reflection

dear b“No! Let go of my necklace,” I yelled as I yanked my favorite turquoise beads out of your fisted hands. Your face crumpled like a used tissue and tears erupted from your eyes. I tucked my necklace back safely into the jewelry box that you had been pilfering, as guilt flooded my chest.

I knew I’d been too harsh, but so much of my jewelry had already become your casualties.

Then, I remember the day before when a wobbly baby had toddled over to you with open hands and a wide smile, grabbing curiously at the teapot you played contentedly with.

As the baby approached, you clutched the candy pink plastic to your chest, swinging your other hand around in protective circles, and screeched, “No! Mine!” I had been embarrassed at your behavior, explaining that you needed to be kind and gentle to babies.

“She’s younger than you, and she doesn’t know any better.” The words resound in my ears as I shamefully look into your hurt, tearful eyes.

You are a reflection of me.

So often those words become stale in my mouth from overuse, but as I sit with them now, they resonate as valuable truth: you..are..a reflection..of me.

When I first entered college I had to pass a test called the Subject A Exam which assessed my ability to write an effective essay. I have always loved writing, but in high school, my teachers focused on teaching me the conventions of writing rather than the art. Mixed with test anxiety, the Subject A and I did not hit it off.

After my third failed attempt, the university mandated that I take a Subject A prep class. I showed up the first day feeling as indignant as a two year old who’s forced into taking nap.

Over the first weeks of class, I stubbornly decided that no matter what, I would despise and resent the class. The teacher, Ms. Gypsum, was young, and carefree. She wore boldly printed scarves and blue rectangular glasses that were disarming with their quirky charm. But I held my resolve.

She had us read books and articles that were actually interesting. She would return our essays covered in her inky cursive with thoughtful feedback and questions. We would sit in class with our cups of coffee doused liberally with cream and sugar, and she would encourage us to have thoughtful and worthwhile conversation.

Despite her attempts to connect with me, the first half of the class I skated by with little effort or dedication. Until Ms. Gypsum handed me back my midterm essay, and across the top of the page, seven words were scrolled beside the big red letter D: “This is crap. You can do better.”

She’d taken three weeks to show me who she was, as a writer, as a teacher, and as a person, and now, she was standing face to face with me and challenging me to show what I was capable of. Her words took me off guard, they knocked me off my pedestal and infuriated me.

But then, they forced me to look in the mirror– and I realized that I didn’t like what I saw. What was my self righteous attitude about anyways? I thought I was such a great writer, but what was I producing besides bitterness and mediocre work?

Too many times in my life I have let my ego decide who I am and not my actions. Sometimes I need to be knocked off my pedestal and told: “This is crap. You can do better.”

Because as I seek to discipline you, God is disciplining me to become a better person and a better mom. After all, the word discipline actually means “to train.”

In order to be the kind of mom I want to be, I first need to be a student. I need to learn how to be patient, humble, selfless, kind, and generous. I need to say please: please God give me strength. I need to say thank you: thank you God for your abundant blessings. I need to say I’m sorry: forgive me God for falling short.

As your hurt eyes peered into mine I put my hands on your shoulders, “I am so sorry I yelled at you like that,” and I pulled you close in an embrace.

How Often Do We Ask for What We Want?

After two days of battling naps and bedtime with my two year old, I was fried. That afternoon I’d walked nearly a marathon pushing a stroller (minus 25 miles) trying to get B to go down for a nap. Finally, tired and frustrated, I looked her in the eye. I said “Mommy really needs time away from you. I’m going to put you in your bed with a bottle of milk, and your job is to fall asleep.” She looked at me earnestly and said, “otay.” I layed her down, left the room, and a miracle happened…. she fell asleep.

It occurred to me then, how often do we ask for what we want? So often we either play the martyr by going without, or we expect others to be mind readers and meet our needs without communicating our expectations.

How often do we ask God for things we want? He may be better than a husband, He can read minds, but God still calls us to pray to him about our wants and needs.