Hearts are everywhere in the month of February. As if “Singles Awareness Month” isn’t ostentatious enough, cute little hearts are plastered across the retail landscape ready to slap you in the face when you’re not looking. Hearts denote love, but the connotation of the hearts of man do not compare to the connection of the Father.
Love is not as shallow or fleeting as the world paints. In reality, our beating heart was designed with tender care by a loving Creator. This heart feels pain and sadness, yet also has the capacity to emote rejoicing and celebration. Our hearts are the Swiss Army Knife of our soul; able to adapt to every situation that requires an emotional response.
Human hearts are the largest target for the enemy. He plots and plans to crush the hearts of little children, to inflict life-long damage to the heartbeat, and hopes we will carry our hurts for the duration of our lives. He often succeeds, and the scars we acquired as children, are scars we carry as adults. We cope with emotional limps to hide our wounds, but they remain reminders of our failures and injuries of the past.
Emotional scabs may be thick and crusted with years of self-protection. Or they may be oozing with green pus, reminding us daily of their pain, yet refuse to heal. Even if we pretend the scars and scabs aren’t there anymore, when someone bumps into us with words from our past, or a reminder of failure, we howl with pain and the wound is made fresh again.
When I was growing up, one of my siblings was an emotional terrorist. As a child, I could not process the “why” behind his outbursts of rage. Living in the same house as him was like sleeping on a bed of broken glass, never fully resting because his verbal explosions were always lurking around every corner, waiting to jump out and scare me into submission. He held the reins of the house, yanking to the right if he was angry, pulling the bits in our mouths to obey or there would be hell to pay. His words would fly out of his mouth like a fiery-tornado of rage. As a young child, I would express my hurt with tears to which he would shame me by saying, “You’re so sensitive, what are you going to do when a real crisis comes?” So I shut down my sensitivity and equated tears to weakness. I locked my emotions away in the deepest recesses of my soul and told them not to surface again.
But then God came knocking on my carefully callused heart.
God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.” — Deuteronomy 30:6 (MSG)
God spoke gently to me and asked if He could cut away the calluses of my heart.
He showed me what life could be like if my heart could beat for Him without hindrance.
I pleaded and tried to convince Him that my walls were there for my protection. I had hurt too deeply and didn’t want to experience pain again.
But like a gentle Father slowly peeling back a Band-Aid, he sat with me until I calmed down and asked me to trust Him.
Little by little, the calluses were cut away, oftentimes with me writhing in discomfort as a torrent of emotions came bursting past the gates. But I trusted my Father, so the careful cutting away continued. It was a slow, agonizing process, but finally the last callus was peeled away revealing the tender fruit underneath.
I felt exposed and unprotected as I surveyed the rubble of the walls I had constructed out of self-protection. I felt grief for all the years wasted. But the Lord quickly poured out His healing balm on my heart and protected me with His love.
Finally my heart was free to pulsate deeply, to mimic the heart of the Father and beat for what moves Him with compassion and love.
“Let his banner over me be love” (Song of Solomon 2:4 NIV).