What do you with your broken heart? When the one you thought was Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. Wrong? What happens when you’re stuck and afraid and unsure of what to do next?
It’s interesting how we so quickly want to fix things when they break–especially when it’s something as personal and intimate as our hearts. But I think, sometimes, in our deep desire to fix all that is broken, we forget what opportunity it might bring to increase our faith.
And to be honest, I don’t know how to patch up a heart but it might not be about patching up anything at all.
Because I don’t think hearts don’t get broken on accident. I think hearts get broken because God is so sure that something trapped inside needed to get out so that something so much better can pour in.
And I’m pretty positive that a heart can still keep beating even after it’s been shattered because even a broken heart has been designed to know how to survive. So, then, if that’s true, the feeling of a broken heart really isn’t something that needs to be fixed because it hasn’t stopped working. But it’s also not something we can ignore. Pain demands that we pay attention to it.
Some try to ignore it by numbing it with all sorts of things — drugs, alcohol, rebound boyfriends, other relationships. It might be numb but the problem, the deep scar, doesn’t go away until we reveal it and tend to it.
So, maybe the thing to do, the very best thing to do when everything feels broken, isn’t to gather up all the pieces and hold them altogether, but instead to heal.
And how does healing happen? By pouring so much life into a barely beating heart that it can’t help but keep beating and growing stronger.
So, how do you do that? How do you live when you ache on the inside?? How do you tangibly bring life back to your lifeless heart?
Here are 6 ways you can start doing this today:
1. Serve and love others.
Sometimes we have to have our heart broken so that our eyes can be open to what breaks God’s heart. Sometimes we have to experience pain, isolation, and brokenness to really see the needs of others instead of focusing on ourselves and our own happiness.
One of the best ways to heal is to help others heal. Serving, loving, and giving bring deep joy because it’s what we are made to do. It brings fulfillment and fulfills our purpose.
This might mean flying across the world and serve the hungry but it can also be as simple as calling your mom or a friend and asking, “What’s one task I can help you with this week?”
It can be getting your neighbor’s mail, going to the grocery store for the tired mama down the street, writing encouraging letters with prayers and taking them to the local prison, volunteering for an event on your campus or in your community, leaving $20 on someone’s windshield, taking food to the man on the corner, or visiting elderly (or even your grandparents).
If your heart is broken, realize you’re not the only one. Instead of wallowing in your sorrow, extend a hand to the breaking world around you.
When you give your life to others, you your life becomes so much more abundant. When you pour out your life as a gift, the gift you get is life poured back into you.
2. Love and Serve God.
I had a friend that felt very called to go on missions but her biggest hesitation was that she was in a serious relationship and didn’t want to leave behind a man that she cared deeply for. It was as if she was in a constant a battle, trying to choose between her calling and her companion.
When that relationship painfully ended, it hurt, but she also felt as though she could fully and freely offer her life to the Lord. The hesitation was gone and the battle was over. She could walk freely in her calling.
Perhaps this isn’t your situation, but when God removes something or someone from our life, when we experience hurt or heartbreak, part of the reason for that is because it’s like the collapsing of a false god in our life.
When someone else has the power to make us feel so empty and lifeless, that’s when it’s clear who was really on the throne of our heart.
Now, I’m not saying not to deeply love someone, whether that’s a significant other, a child, etc. However, I am saying, that as painful as loss and heartbreak can be, it’s sometimes the way God creates space in our heart and room in our life so that nothing holds us back from a full surrender.
CS Lewis says, “He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God and nothing else.”
Heartbreak dares us to let God be enough and healing from heartbreak dares us to depend on His enough-ness.
In order to heal from heartbreak, you have to take action in letting Him be enough. Seek His calling, go when it doesn’t make sense, share your faith when it’s uncomfortable or when you feel embarrassed. I mean, you’ve got a broken heart and you’re still breathing, so what have you got to lose?
Put your surrender and your faith into action and watch as it slowly begins to heal your heart and revive your reason for living.
3. Love and take care of yourself.
You can’t love yourself by whining or by constantly staring at the gaping hole hole in your heart. You love yourself by letting yourself love, by eating healthy, by being intentional with your time, by organizing the world around you, and by doing the little things you’ve neglected doing.
I know that heartbreak can make you want to climb into a cave and curl up the fetal position. It takes a lot out of you and it can be tempting to just shut off.
While your feelings are valid, that doesn’t mean you should live there. You simply can’t care for yourself if you’re numbing the pain with chocolate, alcohol, laziness, sleep, distractions or rebound guys.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get weary and that doesn’t mean you can’t feel defeated now and then. We’re all human and life is hard.
But it does mean don’t set up camp in your brokenness. Don’t live there.
Examine the little things you can be more intentional about and look for ways to be more intentional and loving toward the life God has given you.
This can be done by cooking healthy meals more often, getting more active, creating a schedule to get into a healthy routine, getting involved in activities that will help you grow spiritually, mentally, and physically, joining a Bible study or small group (getting in life giving community!), or learning how to manage your time better.
Heartbreak gives you two choices: become a better version of yourself or a worse version of yourself.
4. Get outside your comfort zone.
One of the best things you can do to help yourself heal is to get outside of yourself and outside of your comfort zone. Like I said, heartbreak allows us to let our hearts be broken for what breaks God. We get a chance to identify with Christ in His suffering and pain is not purposeless (Philippians 3:10-11).
In the midst of it, we can choose to take big steps of faith instead of letting pain hold us back.
That thing you’ve always wanted to try? Try it!
That trip you’ve felt called to go on? Go.
That person you’ve been feeling God ask you to talk to? Talk to them.
That job you’ve wanted to apply for? Apply for it!
That project you’ve been putting off? Do it.
The point is to get outside of your comfort zone and your bubble. Try new things, even simple little things like a DIY project you never thought you were artsy enough to do.
Sometimes our hearts have to be broken open so that our walls can be busted down. Unfortunately, we so quickly revert to building up walls higher…no wonder heartbreak feels so empty and lifeless.
If your heart is broken, don’t go into an emotional turtle shell. That’s only going to cause the pain to build and build until you swell and eventually pop.
Get out of the box instead.
5. Open up and write it out.
You can’t heal if you don’t open up about your pain. Bottling it up just won’t work and you’re going to feel trapped.
However, you have to know where the line is between seeking counsel and complaining. While it’s healthy and good to be vulnerable and share your brokenness with others that you trust, you also have to remember not to dump it all on one person or complain all the time. Understand that vulnerability is necessary and not a sign of weakness but be careful not to turn that into whining.
Seek wisdom, prayer, and support from trusted friends. Cry out to the Lord when you just can’t handle it anymore. He tells us so clearly in His word that He is near to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 34:18).
Invite Him into that instead of stiff arming Him. Your broken heart likely His way of drawing you closer to His heart. Don’t fight it.
When you’re not sure who to open up to, or feel like you’ve asked enough of your friends, journal. Write out the ugliest of your feelings, write down the ways you’ve seen God move and the ways you hope to see healing. Your journal can handle all the tears and aggressively written feelings scratched across it’s pages. And as you journal your pain, progress, and prayers, you’ll be able to look back and see the parts of the story that have been redeemed, healed, or helped by the Lord.
Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come and how faithful the Lord has been when the pain seems unbearable. Keeping a journal is a tangible tool that can help you track your progress and keep on pressing into faith and healing when you have a bad day.
6. Choose what you KNOW over what you FEEL.
Memorizing what Truth says in Scripture can be one of the best ways to combat the enemy’s sneaky ways and how he twists heartbreak to become so divisive and personal.
We often let our feelings dictate our days instead of relying on what we know to be true.
When you begin to say, “I feel lonely…” or, “I feel depressed,” remember that feelings are fleeting but truth is unchanging. Identify when you begin to feel the weight of a lie that says something like, “You’re unlovable,” or “You’re going to die alone,” and replace it with what you KNOW.
When you diligently work to memorize what TRUTH says, you’ll be armored up to stand against the lies that heartbreak can sometimes let seep in.
Heartbreak can be a vulnerable place to be and while it’s good to be vulnerable with the Lord, you have to put on the armor of God or you’re also going to be open to attacks from the enemy. The enemy tries to play on our weakness but God can display His power through it (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Don’t just mope around expecting time to heal your heart. Time doesn’t heal your heart, Jesus does.
In the midst of this season of healing and finding purpose in the pain, don’t overlook the importance of standing on the Rock of Truth when you feel like you’ve been shaken to the core.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
— Ephesians 6:10-20.
Lastly, do you notice how all of these ways toward healing are focused on continuing to shine a light and live in light in spite of brokenness? Shining a light and loving the world and living so big and full of life that light breaks through those cracks in your heart?
So, maybe you ought not waste another day worrying or waiting or moping around because there’s so much life waiting for you if you step outside your front door and live it. There’s so much wonder and glory and purpose and work to do beyond your broken heart.
You CAN do it. You can do that work and your heart has a need to live a purposeful life.
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: broken hearts are kind of like lamps. And a broken lamp can still shine and if you go after life with reckless abandon, if you let Life Himself fill you up so full of light and purpose and joy, if you understand that even when your heart breaks your Light doesn’t have to, well then, darling, you can keep on shining too.