Working in a hospital, I’m familiar with the pain scales used to help patients communicate how they’re feeling physically. But there are other kinds of pain that can be more difficult to measure. When your heart is broken, the agony can be so overwhelming you feel incapable of fully experiencing love, joy, and peace again. There’s not really a number or emoji for that.

You try to fix yourself, carefully fitting pieces of your heart together like a puzzle, but everything that reminds you of your grief makes it fall apart again. So you put the pieces in a box and store it away, like a project you tell yourself you’ll get back to but knowing you probably never will because of how difficult it is.

The project is worth the effort. You are worth the effort. Just please don’t do it alone. If there’s family or a friend you can trust your heart to, please do. And I know there are trustworthy therapists, because I have one. But most of all, look through the box for the piece that knows God loves you—truly, wholly, unrelentingly loves you. It’s the part of you that remembers every good thing he’s  done in your life—every blessing, every healing, and every grace.

Hold on to it until his love for you brings you to a place of genuine peace, where you can think, feel, talk, and listen to God without fear. When you’re ready, give that piece of your heart to him. In his hands it becomes whole, a new heart strengthened in joy, softened in peace, and empowered to receive and give love.

As he places the heart in you, there’s a familiar stab of pain. You remember what broke it, and there’s a moment you fear it’s going to happen again. But immediately there’s an astonishing uniting of grief and grace. Rather than breaking, your new heart is able to embrace memories in that grief/grace, and becomes stronger than ever. 

“Teach me your ways, Lord, so I can walk in your truth again. Unite the pieces of my heart, and restore me to live in awe of you. O Lord my God, I want to praise and honor you with a truly whole heart” (Psalm 86:11-12, paraphrase).

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