Remember the first time you had a broken heart — the first time something or someone hurt you so badly that it felt like your world was falling apart?
Maybe it was a breakup that left you heartbroken for the first time. My first middle school breakup was brutal. I thought my life was over. I was wrecked. I remember my mom saying, “Now, Tommy, I know you're sad, but don't worry, there are other fish in the sea.” It was little comfort. And the first time she said it I had NO idea what she was talking about. I was absolutely clueless. I just didn't get the connection between fish, large bodies of water, and the fact that my girlfriend just kicked me to the curb so that she could start “going out” with one of my friends. (And looking back I'm still not sure why we called it “going out,” because we never actually went anywhere. We just saw each other at school.)
Fortunately, a few years later I realized my mom was right: there are other fish in the sea. Still, at the time, I was heartbroken. Devastated. Wondering how I would pull myself back together and function in a world that could unleash such a torrent of pain on a thirteen year old.
Let me just state the obvious, and I'm not trying to be a downer here, especially with Christmas only a few days away. But here goes, and maybe this is the moral of my middle school breakup story: None of us are immune to heartbreak. Life doesn't come with any exemptions. Live long enough and you will experience the pain of a broken heart. It's inevitable. Not even Jesus got a pass. In the words of one of my high school teachers, “Life's not fair.” Things happen that we have absolutely no control over. People hurt us. And brokenheartedness follows. We've all experienced it. There's no escaping it.
For some, that's not earth-shattering news. You're well acquainted with reality. You've lived through all kinds of heartbreak. In fact, some of you have been touched so deeply by what you've experienced that your heart is still broken; your wounds are still fresh. Contrary to popular opinion, time does not heal all wounds — not all of them. In matters of the heart, we often need something far more potent. There's no one more skilled at mending a broken heart than Jesus.
Before we go any further, let me just say that it's really important to think of brokenheartedness not only as something that happens to us but also as something we do to ourselves. Some of our deepest wounds are self-inflicted. We sin against ourselves.
Sadly, many of us have been taught — mainly by example — to hide our brokenness or, at the very least, avoid it. Yeah, we know it's there, but the last thing we want to do is acknowledge it, especially in front of someone else. We want to appear strong, like we have it all together — even when we don't. When we remain isolated or hidden, sin wins, and we lose. We need to let the light in.
When we bury our most serious problems — the ones that have the greatest potential to wreak havoc in our lives — things will only get worse. Never better. When we don't deal with the junk that inhibits us from living freely — and there's a lot of stuff that fits into that category — we only end up hurting ourselves. And I'm speaking out of my own experience here.
Left unresolved and unredeemed — untouched by the grace and mercy and healing power of God — your problems, your issues, whatever you want to call them, damage you. They impair your ability to function in ways that are good and right and true. And they eventually spill over and hurt those around you. And the sad truth is that some of the stuff that hurts our hearts the most is caused by our unwillingness to come clean, to let the light in.