‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When Hearts Are Exposed

Sometimes it feels like my skin has been ripped off and my heart is there, naked and vulnerable to all the sorrows in the world. Today is one of those days.

I've always experienced seasons like this, my whole life. I can remember being very tiny and feeling like I would simply die from the pain of taking in what was around me. If I saw my elderly neighbor sitting alone through her window, I ached bitterly. If I saw a child crying out of loneliness, the pain would suffocate me. I always thought it was a curse. I didn't understand why I had to feel so much pain. It was and is unbearable at times. And if you share these feelings with others, they often think you are trying to be a martyr or bragging about your sensitivity. Neither is true for me. I almost always, without exception, suffer in silence.

And when these seasons come, I want to hide in my room and weep and weep and pray without ceasing. But life doesn't usually afford me the luxury of a cloistered existence. So instead, I do my best to walk through my days and do what needs to be done, all the while nursing an exposed heart that is being battered by every little measure of suffering it sees.

I know I am one of thousands grieving over what occurred in Japan right now. I won't even let myself watch the news today, because I can't cry anymore. To see the pain so many thousands of people are living is crazy-making. I can't eat, can't sleep...and worse is knowing my agony does not lift one atom of their pain. I pray and pray until I fall asleep, but often berate myself for not being able to conceive of a more practical way to help. What can we do, powerless creatures that we are, but pray? And yet prayer often feels like meaningless gibberish in these times. Words, words, words....while my faraway brothers and sisters break from the mammoth weight of their grief.

I feel my heart throbbing through my skin these last few days. It feels like it will beat right out of my chest wall. It can't hold all these sorrows. And yet I don't know how to have peace about them. I call and call on God and hear my own voice echo in the canyon of grief my heart inhabits.

I know I sound like a little child, I know I should understand these things by now, but I don't. I still ask God every night why there has to be so much suffering in the world. It still sickens me every day to see the world revolving around things that don't matter, while things that DO matter go unnoticed. I can't seem to get an answer. Nothing satisfies. If I'm not actively doing something to alleviate another's pain, I feel useless. If I'm not pushing forward every second to better the lives of those children in Siberia I love, I feel like a hypocrite. Who am I to eat till I'm full when they can't? Who am I to have so many people to love and support me when they don't?

I can't bear it.

There really is nothing you can say to help my heart move back inside my body. I've tried. It's stuck on this very exposed and vulnerable precipice where the wind and waves batter it incessantly. I can only hope this is part of God's bigger plan. I know that suffering has meaning. I know that suffering is often the door to greater and greater glories. But sometimes --- sometimes it just feels like my heart will slowly wear away from all the slings and arrows it catches. Some days it feels like my heart shivers on an exposed cliff during a hurricane, and it has nothing and no one to protect it.

God, if it's Your will, you can keep my heart raw and hurting. But if you can at least wrap it in some insulating blanket of your protection, I am ready to accept that. I share this pain with you, my readers, only because I know this truth:

'Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.' ~ Shakespeare


  1. Oh, yeah. So with you. My husband's family were concerned for us living on the CA coast, and so I posted a fb message late in the day letting them know essentially nothing happened here in CA and everything was fine--some of the family shot back with "what about the Santa Cruz harbor? The governor declared it a disaster zone!" and I HAD to respond that I could not feel the least bit sorry that some people lost their pleasure boats when so many in Japan had lost everything, including their lives or those whom they loved. Just. No. Comparison. We are so pampered here in the States that we hype up the least little thing-a disaster zone? Give me a break.

    But watching a video of the black water pouring over the neat farmland in Japan. . . my children brought me tissues because I was crying so much.

    God has give you this sensitive heart. And He is keeping your heart soft so you can hear Him, so He can move you to act on His behalf. I am so thankful for you, and for how you are spreading love and challenging believers everywhere to ACT like we love Him, by loving "the least" in His name. : )

    Much love,


  2. "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him..." (Philippians 1:29)

    This is the verse I always come back to when I feel as though my own heart is painfully exposed to all the sorrow of this world... It reminds me that righteous suffering is a gift from God and as hard as it is, I am learning to thank Him for it.

  3. Wish I could reach through the internet and give you a hug. It is definitely hard to make sense of all the suffering and disparity.


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