Fix Your Broken Heart This Way
Updated: May 2
When I was little, I learned early not to disturb the equilibrium. Expressing myself in any way other than quiet play or a normal talking was too much and was immediately cut off to keep peace in the home. My story is probably pretty typical. It may even be yours.
Emotions rocked the boat, so I learned to suppress them because showing those--whether too happy, too sad, too mad or too scared--brought a sharp word or a spanking. Not that my parents were mean; they were just trying to get by the only way they knew how, and they were training me how their parents had trained them. Squeals of delight, tears and/or fits of rage were absolutely, under no circumstances allowed. I had to keep it cool or suffer the consequences.
Now that I'm an adult, I understand the value of emotions but have a lot of difficulty with them. More than anything, I want to protect others and keep things steady. I turn anger in upon myself rather than blast it out on anyone else. Same with sadness; I don't want to burden anybody with my problems, so I lock myself away in my room and deal with them alone. Excitement is pretty cool until it becomes too much or isn't the mood that others are experiencing at the time, so I usually squelch that one too. Disgust at others' behavior or advances is supposed to be the internal signal to run, but since I had a creepy uncle I learned early to just ignore what's gross and endure until it's over...which led me into a lot of later episodes that I had every right to run away from but didn't. I feel fear often but it always falls under the wheels of me barreling forward into what I think is inevitable. Boundaries are things for other people. I have real trouble setting them. The problem is, the older I get, the harder it is to hide my emotions. People can see through me now...and that makes me so mad at myself.
Better to pretend and perform and stay in the safe place of joy, the only acceptable emotion. It makes people around you feel happy, so stay right there or else. I wish I could stay in joy all the time, but I can't. These other emotions keep popping up as people mess up my equilibrium!
When I push them down, it's like sneezing silently.
I always marvel at people who sneeze silently. Where does all that pressure go? How do they not explode?
Broken windows theory is an unrelated topic, but it applies here. In this theory, the presence of visible signs of criminal behavior like broken windows, needles on the ground and vandalism actually encourages more crime to occur. The seal has been broken, the bad deeds have already been done, so people think why not do them more? Policing to stop those crimes and cleaning up the mess can help to heal the social climate of a neighborhood. Places that let their neighborhood go unchecked turn into hellholes.
So it is with people.
Repressed anger turns into self-harm of all kinds.
Uncomforted sadness becomes depression.
Excitement cut off becomes addiction to numb or seek pleasure in private.
Ignoring disgust lets in the bad guys.
Displacing fear can either show up as anxiety or rebellious, impulsive, adrenaline-soaked acts.
Joy becomes a mask.
These behaviors indicate a hurting life left unchecked. People build a false-self persona as a defense that's merely a shell to protect the core. We see these people's coping mechanisms and call it their life; we name them by what we see. It's not true. Their real self is in there, looking out through the broken windows, past the needles and whisky bottles and hookers and graffiti, wishing things were different so they could go out and play. So much potential is hidden within, but there's just so much in the way.
Belief systems are kept in the heart. (Guard your heart above all things, for from it flows the issues of life--Proverbs 4:23). When your heart is broken, your panes are off-kilter; your view is all wiggly. No wonder navigating through life situations can be really tricky--you're looking at everything through flawed lenses on the deepest level.
I'll be the first to confess that my heart is pretty broken (confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed--James 5:16). I've been looking out through the fractures for my entire life. I've viewed situations through them, all shattered from acts done to me and the pressure of holding my reactions in so I won't be punished for feeling. My beliefs that guide my behaviors and responses are all wonky. Often I'll assume the blame and responsibility for situations because it's easier than calling others out. Other times, I've taken it for so long that what's inside breaks out and spews out in ways I wouldn't have planned. There's a lot of debris in my history and relationships...and it all makes me want to throw my hands up sometimes, it's so messy. Do you ever just say screw it and do more crimes against yourself? Drink way too much? Say super mean things to yourself? Hurt yourself physically? Perform harder to earn more love? Resentfully give what people demand of you in order to keep false peace? Slip into relational dysfunction just because it feels right?
For the most part, in stable times I have a pretty rational mind and I've read a lot of self-help books, so I've learned to compensate. I get by and most people would never guess this is all happening inside. Oh, you too? Maybe you also have ways to cope: exercise, deep breathing, journaling, watching tv, scrolling, eating chocolate, having a drink or two? I'm learning how to pull back in the moment and observe my thoughts, which is a huge win. I'm learning to name my emotions when I can feel them. These are helpful, but they're like sending a patrol cop and a clean up crew into a bad neighborhood once in a while. New paint and picking up trash are good, but they don't end crime. What does?
I'm getting older...I want to get better! I want transformation. I need a window-fixer to solve the root problem. These broken beliefs are wearing me down, straining my relationships and keeping me from being the whole person I was made to be and have a right to be. You too. This all applies to you too, if your story is anything like mine.
Do you know what happens when you keep doing the same old thing the same old way?
You keep breaking your own heart.
Traumatized people inflict trauma, and the beat goes on. Is there any hope?
I want to know what is good and right to do and be and feel in moments of conflict and high stress.
I need to learn from someone who does life well.
I want to check my perspective with someone who has intact, perfect panes and sees situations clearly.
I want to have intact lenses for myself.
If anyone can heal the broken pieces of my heart beliefs, have pity and help me.
And Jesus said, "If! All things are possible to him who believes."
How do you repair broken pieces of glass when you can't altogether replace them with brand new ones? (You only get one life here.)
You fuse them in a kiln.
My mom does this. She makes works of art with intense heat and glass. It's beautiful. It's possible.
Fused glass is stronger than original pieces, because it's bound together in an intentional process that causes chemical bonding.
The final result is thicker, and there are no mistakes. They all melted.
I do believe! Help my unbelief.
Let's get healthy. Let's fuse things together now with truth and some powerful love.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted,
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...(Isaiah 61:1)
Part of why Jesus came from heaven to earth was to lift the burden from people who had been sinned against and bore the results of that offense. He touched them and spoke words of life to them. His intense love fused the broken pieces of their heart back together. As they let Him love them, their faith in what He did and said made them well. They no longer acted broken, because they weren't. They believed Him--and they were free! They left the scene different entirely than when they came into it. From that point their lives weren't defined by their affliction and they could go on from there in a new and better way.
Our God is an all-consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
This such a good thing. Some people equate this with judgment, but its so much more than that. God is love. His pure love burns hot, hot enough to fuse your brokenness back together and melt away the cracks. He can make you as good as new! If you give Him your heart, He can and will bind it together.
This is possible. Remember, faith makes the power flow. All things are possible to those who believe.
The other day during a particularly bad moment, I doubted out loud. I said, "Lord, I'm so *!@#$%&^ broken. I don't believe you can fix me." I heard Him laugh and say, "Oh honey, you don't know my power." He was delighted the whole time, not defensive. He really meant it: I have no idea of the all-surpassing strength of His power.
You know what? The moment He spoke those words to me, I believed Him. I changed from being doubtful to thinking He could fix me.
The glass in the kiln knows the all-surpassing strength of the heat's power because it experiences the heat. It doesn't hear about the heat. It doesn't think about and repeat mantras about the heat. It gets into the kiln. Waits. Experiences the fire for itself. Without doing anything, it just melts under the heat's influence and comes out different.
Jesus is real. He's a person. We can ask Him to show Himself to us and wait and then just let Him love us. We can sit in His presence and experience His love. That's when we really believe. We can receive the power of the Lord God Almighty who is so good, and let him cook us smooth again. Every day we can come and be exposed to the heat of His truth in the light of His word. He says, "You are Mine," a new creation in whom old things have passed away and that you are all new, equipped with His divine nature. Listen to what He says over you and take it personally. This is the heat that bakes your broken perspective and beliefs. When you submit your mind to be renewed by the living and active Word of God (instead of the programming of your broken caregivers and peers), your core beliefs clear up. Your self-esteem improves. Your perspective becomes more accurate.
It's taken me a long time to get to this time in the kiln, but I'm finally slowing down to do it daily. His all-surpassing power is amping up in me as I turn more and more often to His Word spoken over me instead of other coping mechanisms...and I'm changing for the better.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
* it's right to have boundaries (even when people get angry at you for setting them)
* it's not your responsibility to fulfill everyone else's wants and needs
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
* it's important to have needs and desires and dreams of your own, and to walk in them
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where I can exist apart from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7)
* perfect equilibrium isn't possible in real life. Dump that false ideal. Real life is filled with highs and lows, and God is there with us in it all
Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no. (Matthew 5:37)
* you get to say what you really want and it's okay to hold the line on it
Flee from immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
* it's okay to run or leave when things are wrong or unsafe
Bottom line: Every soul born into a body has the same God-given right to be here and be their true self. He equipped us with emotions for a reason: so that we might process and experience the fullness of life. All of them are important and allowed and vital for proper living. You're not supposed to stick to the middle and barely feel. Boundaries are necessary and also vital to stay healthy.
Most of all, the broken windows of beliefs in your heart must be mended so you can see yourself and your life accurately, since those beliefs steer your decisions. Let Jesus help you reforge your heart with His Word. Re-parent yourself with grace, not as an orphan but as a loved child of God. Acknowledge Him in all of your highs and lows--He gives you all permission and validation to feel everything!-- and when you do He will guide you through. Let Him love you, precious child, and speak His creative, fiery life over you. Believe and accept what He says as your new truth, and He will melt down your brokenness into new clarity and strength. Imagine a whole town filled with people whose lives had been changed like that! What an incredible success story!
Jesus is the answer. For human hearts and neighborhoods alike, His intense Word spoken in love can solve every problem at the root...and open the future wide into promises of hope that look better, stronger.