What Does a Hurting Heart Really Need?
Because we all live in a fallen world, every one of us has hurts and wounds. We are foolish to think that our story is worse than the next and we are the only ones hurting the way we do. Jesus promised us there would be trials and experience proves that promise to us. Experience also proves to us that working through the hurting residue of the trials is not easy. However, it is possible, "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37, NLT).
This verse is not something to throw around because we want a new car or a higher paying job, but it's something we can cling tightly to when we are in our midnight hour. When our chronic illness seems to hold our spirits captive or depression lingers like a ghost and we don't want to go on living. Or someone we love betrays us, deeply. This is the truth that carries us through and will carry us through. But after it's through, then what? What do we do with the wounds that can't seem to be shaken and seem to be tattooed into our souls?
We forgive, a situation passes, and we might even go to therapy where we learn better ways of thinking and behaving. We tell our wounds, "It's over now. Time to move on" or "That person didn't know any better. They had a hard life too" or "I just need to redirect my thoughts or do something to distract myself." Let me tell you something about the heart. It does not understand the language of logic. You cannot reason your wounds away.
We were born for one thing- to love and be loved. Love is the only language the heart understands and responds positively to. When we are treated in an unloving way, the usual and instinctive response of the heart is confusion and the inability to understand what is happening. Thereafter, we react with anger and defensiveness, but those are only coping mechanisms we use to protect our fragile and vulnerable condition. If we go to therapy, we are told to consider this and consider that, but these perspectives are merely speaking to our minds, but it is the heart that is wounded. Our hearts wrestle and grapple with what we keep telling ourselves, but it's like trying to interpret a completely foreign language without a translator.
We get frustrated with ourselves for not getting it. "Why can't I just move on?" we chastise ourselves. The reasoning is there, but the healing is not. This morning I entered my daily time with the Lord, and the Holy Spirit brought up something to me that I don't think about very often, my dad. Oh, how deep are the wounds of the father. And, oh how loving and kind is the Father to step in and nurture that, renew it, and speak tenderly to them. But lately, when I thought of him, I caught myself reasoning, which told me that something else was there. Something else was banging inside my chest that did not understand why dad did what he did. I would let the mind speak to the heart saying, "That was a long time ago, and he didn't know any better because he didn't have a father," but the heart doesn't buy into excuses. It is the most truth craving thing in the world. And the truth is Jesus. Simply Him. There is no other way to explain it. No extravagant words will do, but the heart is starving for Him. Some areas more than others, but it always will get hungry, just like our bodies do. We need, "...the one who existed from the beginning" (1 John 1:1).
I am completely against the teachings that tell us that our faith and our relationship with the Lord cannot be measured by experience and not to live by feelings. Last time I checked, life is one big thread of experiences- good, bad, neutral, whatever. And it is through these experiences that we grow, learn, develop perspectives, pick up wounds, and even see the face of Jesus. My day was filled with experiences-small and big. I woke up, experience number one. I spent time in the Word. I drove my car. I went to the store. These were all things I experienced with my body, mind, soul, senses, and spirit. How do we end up wounded? Through experience. Someone says something, does something, or doesn't do something. We go through an experience or sometimes a series of experiences. Now, as we grow in the Lord, we grow in our security in Him and the knowledge of His love, teaching our hearts to respond differently to negative experiences, but that's not what I'm talking about now. I'm talking about where we are right now when an experience has left us wounded. What will bring the healing? What does our heart need?
If woundedness comes through experience, then so must healing. The one source of healing is the love of Christ. Nowhere else, nothing else, no one else. I'm not saying not to invest in counseling in times of need, but you are spinning your wheels and wasting time if what is being said and done in your sessions is not pointing and guiding you toward the love of Christ. Paul prays that the Ephesians will, "...experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully" (Ephesians 3:19, NLT). Experiencing the love of Christ is quite different from hearing about the love of Christ, reading about the love of Christ, or quoting scripture over and over as some religious denominations suggest you do in order to overcome personal wounds. It's not there. Been there, done it, and bought the T-shirt. Walked in shame and despair because the formula didn't work for me. What was wrong with me? Absolutely nothing. The formula was wrong. Jesus Christ is a person; a person that if known by you will radiate His love into your heart bit by bit. No one was leading me to Him and His kindness, compassion, power, and love that will transform our deepest wounds. Notice that Paul says the love of Christ is not something to understand fully. There it is again, that mind trying to tell us about something that it has no business doing. Stop telling yourself this and that about Jesus and what the Bible says and let your heart experience the Lord Jesus Christ and everything He is!
Let's look at this word "experience" as used in the Ephesian 3:19 verse. In it's purest Greek form it means, "to know, perceive, to feel." And guess what? It is the Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. What?! True story. Sex involves all of a person's mind, body, soul, and spirit. It is supposed to be the most intimate experience that a husband and wife can have. The Lord wants us to become so enmeshed in His love through experience that you can't tell where you end and His love begins. Wow! Let me clarify that I am not necessarily referring to an external experience, either. While revelation of God's love can come from external experiences speaking to us internally, I am more so referring to an internal experience where our hearts collide with Him.
How do we get there? Well, I don't know what journey the Lord has you on in order for you to know Him more deeply, but there are a few necessities that I can point out. First, be in your Word. Yes, reading about and experiencing Jesus are two different things, but allow the Word to paint a heart picture for you of who Jesus is and ask Him to show you who He is through His Word. Also, spend time with Him in prayer and listening. Jesus is a person, don't forget. You can be honest with Him and real with Him about what you are going through and what you feel. Don't forget to listen, that's usually where the healing takes place. If you have to sit there in silence for ten minutes before your mind quiets down enough for your heart's trueness (is that a word) to come to the surface and to hear His voice, that's what you need to do. I personally hate the sitting there, because it's so restless and vulnerable feeling. What if He doesn't say anything or do anything, then what? Keep seeking. Don't give up. He is for you and wants you to be "complete in Him through the fullness of the life and power that comes from God." This is the second part of verse 19. Experience his love, then be complete in the fullness of His life and power. Isn't this wonderful? It's a journey, sometimes a very hard and dark one, but He will always show Himself. I hope you are encouraged to press on to know Him. Feel free to share any "experiences of His love" in the comments section.