An open letter to the hurting heart,

I know you sometimes stumble upon my blog because I see it show up in the search terms that lead you here. “Lord, my heart hurts.” or “help, my heart hurts.” I think you land on my post Trusting God when your heart hurts. But I also hope you might end up here.

My heart still hurts. It hurt once earlier this year. Then it kept hurting. Then someone else hurt it, and there have been moments where I’ve hurt my own heart. It’s exhausting. Having a heart that hurts is physically exhausting, let alone the way it seems to suck all of your emotion out of you.

and part of me wants to hug you and say “it’ll be okay,” but that’s not always true. It’s like when you punch someone and then apologize and they say “it’s okay.” It’s not actually okay. It won’t be okay. But you’ll forget the weight of this pain. Eventually. Slowly. Over time. But you’ll get through it.

One day – maybe a day very far off, or maybe a day right around the corner – you’ll wake up and you’ll go an entire day without re-living what has made you hurt this deeply. It’s hard to imagine now because we’re weirdly protective of our hurt and don’t want to let go of it. It’s okay to hold your hurt close for awhile, but eventually you’re going to need to put on your presentable clothes and roll out of bed and move the heck on. Don’t wallow in it.

To quote the brilliant C.S. Lewis,

C. S. Lewis quote //

“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”

God sees your hurt, wounded little heart. I LOVE this sermon by Pastor Steven Furtick. He talks about God blessing Leah – the unwanted one. Jacob loved Rachel, but LEAH is the one who gave birth to JUDAH, from whom came JESUS CHRIST, the MESSIAH. God sees you. Trust him and stay faithful.

Know that your hurt is valid. Nobody has the right to tell you if you can or can’t hurt. Just stay soft. Don’t build walls, don’t get angry, and don’t lash out. Don’t let your hurt become a mutant version of hurt that includes bitterness, anger, jealousy, revenge, self-righteousness, or self-pity. Just let it simply be hurt, and move on. Here are a few things I’ve found that have helped:

  • Find a positive outlet
    My blog became the thing I poured ALL of my energy into for months. When I was sad, angry, determined, confused, whatever… I blogged. Not always about the emotions I was feeling, but it helped me to squeeze out the storm of energy inside of me in a positive way. It could be exercising, taking pictures, reading books, writing, volunteering… just find a way to GET OUT THE ENERGY.
  • Let people in.
    Often times our gut reaction is to keep people out of our hurt; we don’t want to burden them and/or we don’t want to step deeper into vulnerability because hurt implies an element of a relationship has been broken. It doesn’t make sense, but letting your friends into the messed up parts of your heart actually helps the cleaning/rebuilding process.
  • Knock.
    Maybe literally. When I hurt, I just crave people. I want to sit next to people and laugh with them and drink coffee with them and talk about stupid crap or important crap or even how much I need to crap. I just want to be with people. We often tell our friends “I’m here if you ever need anything,” and we know that we’d drop EVERYTHING for a text that says “I need you right now,” but we hesitate to be the ones to send that text. Just do it.
  • Pray.
    Jesus is described as a man familiar with suffering. His closest companions betrayed him. He died humiliated and alone on a cross between two criminals. He spent the last 3 years of his life being questioned, wrongfully accused, gossiped about, and plotted against. The Holy Spirit led him to the desert to experience great physical deprivation only to encounter spiritual warfare from the enemy himself. That tame, gentle, nice, loving Jesus that you learn in Sunday School? That’s just part of it. Jesus lived a brave, vulnerable, messy life. He used his power to keep parties going and to stop funerals dead in their tracks and bring the dead back to life. He relates and he can turn things around.

When the storm dies down and the aftermath has been cleaned, you won’t remember the weight of this feeling. Just cling to that. Mountains get smaller in your rearview mirror, so just keep climbing.