Brokenheartedness, I believe it is safe to say that every human being who has ever experienced life has also experience heartache. It would appear that heartache and humanity are perpetually intertwined. What is this pain, and most importantly how can we transcend it? To begin such a discussion it is important to understand two things. First, unless we are suffering the death of a loved one, which itself is a topic for another article, heartache often results when we do not receive something we believe we need to be happy, such as love, affection, or security. Perhaps we put faith and trust in someone or something and we have been let down. Secondly, Christ desires to take away our pain and draw us into a deep abiding love relationship with himself.
Let us start with a question. Why is our happiness so often dependent on the love and approval of others? Why are we drawn to have relationships with others anyway? Wouldn’t it be easier to live without all these heart breakers? After all, those closest to us have the power to hurt us profoundly whether they intend to or not. Well, we come into the world as a dependent, fragile baby who is in need of care taking for our very existence. We have experienced nine months, our total earthly existence, within the body of our mother. Here we felt her every emotion, heard her every word and lived a life of union with her. Once birth arrives we not only seek her, we need the protection and nourishment she has to offer. From the beginning, we were created to live a life in union with other people and being so, it is natural for us to turn to others to have our physical, emotional and spiritual needs met.
However, our mothers, and the other individuals in our lives, are all experiencing heartache that resulted from original sin themselves. They too are seeking peace. As a result, these individuals are not able to rescue us from all of our pain – they need a savior as much as we do. As we move into adult personhood, we are called to move from being dependent on others for our happiness to being dependent on God Himself – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here alone will we find the inner peace our hearts cry out for. After all, only God knows our heart. “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
Heartache will happen in our lives; of this, we can be assured. Additionally, we are free to choose what we do with disappointment and heartache. We can choose to allow the pain to consume and destroy our happiness and inner peace, or we can allow a sharing of this pain with Christ where total freedom from pain is available. This is not to say we will never experience human pain, many a martyr experienced physical and emotional pain while simultaneously experiencing the all-consuming love and freedom only Christ can offer. While I am no martyr, I have experienced my fair share of brokenheartedness in this lifetime of mine. It is through my life experiences of brokenness that I have come to believe we can all transcend our pain and find heightened levels of bliss as a result of the pain itself. Yes, our brokenheartedness can be the springboard that elevates us into heightened levels of love and union with Christ if we but only allow it to do so.
I ask you to bring to the forefront of your mind a moment in time where you felt comfort sharing your pain with a loved one, someone who has walked a walk similar to yours and in doing so they shared real understanding and empathy with you. You know – someone who really “got you”. How did that feel? I assume it felt comforting, perhaps even great. Now I ask you, does this person, as awesome as they are, love you fully as Christ does? You must answer “no” to this question. While he or she may strive to love you as Christ does and yes, they may be very good at loving you indeed, given our fallen nature to love fully as Christ does is an impossibility. This fallen nature is the result of original sin. All of humanity, with the exception of Christ himself and his mother Mary, is subject to the consequences of original sin. Sin will always lead to death, the death of the fullness of love God intended for His children to share with one another. The hurt and brokenheartedness that occurs as a result of this death separates all of us from fully loving one another.
So where should we turn when we are in need of love or when we are suffering yet another disappointment or heartache in life? Being human, it is natural to turn to the individuals in our lives. After all, human beings can be a beautiful expression of love and support when we are in need of consolation. However, to live a life desiring only human love is to cut ourselves off from the unbounded comfort we seek when we are brokenhearted. While I am not suggesting we abandon human love all together, after all, Jesus called us to love one another as he loves us. What I am suggesting is that we turn to Christ himself. He alone is our hope and our joy. Remember, it is Christ who came so that we may have life and live it in abundance. (John 10:10)
So how can we make the transition from brokenheartedness to peace? Let us reflect again on the comfort experienced when a loved one expresses empathy for our pain. Now, visualize the empathy Christ has for you, the one who is perfect love himself being both fully human and fully divine. His humanness “get us”, his divinity has the power to love and heal us beyond our comprehension. As Christians we recognize we are all one body in Christ, each performing our own unique and important roles (1 Corinthians 12:27). This acknowledgement of our relationship with Christ leads us to the epiphany that our brokenness affects him personally. Yes, our pain is very personal to Jesus! Our hurts ARE his hurts. Christ himself, our savior, who is one with the one true God, deeply desires to lift us from our hurts so that his body may become whole and healed. However, his power to transform our brokenheartedness into peace is dependent upon our surrendering to him. Jesus after all, is a gentleman and he will only come into our lives when invited.
Combining our brokenness with Christ’s Passion will surely draw us deeper into him. Remember, his Passion was experienced willingly for each and every one of us. Every wound he suffered was received with a loving heart for us, his beloved. By uniting our pain with his Passion our pain is brought back home to the great physician who has the medicine we so desperately need. Perhaps we need a dose of forgiveness, understanding, compassion, humility or patience with ourselves or others. Whatever it is we need, he alone knows what ails our hearts. He has the perfect remedy and he knows how to administer it so that our brokenheartedness transitions into his peace, living within us.
To begin the healing process I suggest we look upon Christ as our best friend and confidant. Like any true friend, he desires a real relationship with us, he desires our companionship and friendship. Talk to him, spend time with him in daily reflection, share with Jesus your joys and your sorrows. Today’s Catholic has a plethora of choices of which to choose from when the desire to fall in deeper union with Christ sparks. We can listen to Christian music, attend Mass, study the saints, receive Reconciliation and Holy Communion, immerse ourselves in Stations of the Cross and pray our precious Rosary – just to name a few options my friends. Let’s go crazy in his love! As a dear friend of mine said to me once – “Like a card player with the best poker hand ever, go all in.” Invite Christ into your life and ask him to draw you deeper and deeper into himself. All that is needed is faith the size of a mustard seed, our lord will take it from there. By sharing our life with Christ we allow a space that will foster the deep respite and love our hearts yearn for.
I have a little technique I use often that draws me deeper into Christ and invite you to share in it with me. I call it Breath of Christ. One day I received this as a gift from above and I immediately began sharing this with my patients. I now find myself humming Breath of Christ spontaneously during the day with a huge smile on my face! I could be driving my car, doing housework or working on my computer and I find myself suddenly immersed in his love while declaring the words “I love you Jesus”. Just as something magical happens to the heart when two individuals speak the words “I love you” to one other, I believe Breath of Christ will lift the heart of the beloved child to Christ himself.
Breath of Christ
- Breath in “I”
- Breath out “love”
- Breath in “you”
- Breath out “Jesus”
By uniting with Christ, and only by uniting with him, will we experience the true respite that he alone can offer. He yearns to heal our brokenheartedness and remember, he has already conquered the sin that causes our pain. While we may not heal in a day, or a week or a month, the journey walked with Christ towards complete healing is a journey worth traveling my friends. Jesus – I Love You!
© A Catholic Moment 2015