God is near the brokenhearted…
Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Whether you ascribe to a particular religion or not, the theme we can pick out from many religious and spiritual traditions is the sacredness of a broken heart. Why?
When our hearts are broken it moves us. It moves us to reach out to help. It moves us to reach out for help. It tells us something is not right.
When we look on our world, our communities, ourselves with compassion, we recognize a lot of pain and suffering. We are living through a time of racial injustice, political unrest, a pandemic, and many other personal life circumstances. When loss is constantly in front of our gaze, the brokenness of our hearts can be overwhelming.
What can a broken heart show us other than pain?
It can show us the love we have and for our human, animal, and plant families. We are reminded of our mutual care and love when we embrace brokenheartedness.
It can show us our strength. Our ability to lean into our experiences and feel through them marks our resiliency.
It can show us our creativity. When we are moved by sadness and compassion, we seek creative solutions to the pain we see and experience.
It can show us our interconnectedness – that our health and wellness is dependent on the health and wellness of those around us.
It can show us we are not alone. Whether it is God, another person, an animal, or something in nature, we see our broken hearts reflected in the world around us and we can allow it to draw us nearer to that world.
I knew I wanted to be a therapist since I was 12. Part of the reason I was drawn to the profession was the pain I carried from my own family experiences. The first gift my broken heart gave me was creativity – the desire to use my pain toward creative solutions for myself and others through couple and family therapy. The most powerful gift this broken heart gave me, however, was reciprocal love. My heart allowed someone else to see my pain, and their heart was open enough to be broken with me and help me carry the hurt for a while. Because we were welcoming our brokenness and pain together, I was able to learn to move through my pain rather than trying to bury it or becoming stuck in it. This heart of mine – which I had sometimes thought defective in its brokenness – knew how to reach out from that place and prompt another’s heart toward love and care. Yours does too.
Maybe you are experiencing a broken heart as a blessing. Maybe right now it feels too heavy. Either way, try to find someone or something you can share it with, and perhaps you will find that your broken heart is also a whole heart.