At 7:10am on May 26th my alarm aggressively screamed at me, and I wanted to hide from my life. It felt like I had just drifted off to sleep – I didn’t manage to sleep until 5:00am. I was hot, I was cold, I was anxious, I couldn’t get comfortable, and I just couldn’t sleep. The panicky “that was not enough sleep for me to function” thoughts tried to swallow me whole.
But I had committed to making a lovely breakfast for four of the youth girls that morning. I considered cancelling. I felt overwhelmed. But I felt Jesus whisper to me “It’s okay. Stick to the plan, it will be worth it”.
So I pulled myself out of bed and started making pancakes (very strangely shaped pancakes if I may add… not a skill I possess). As I was cooking I thought about the “Discipleship” discussion I planned – I had decided to tell the girls part of my story. In particular, the parts that shattered my heart into a million pieces. I considered switching the topic because I was “nervous” that I wouldn’t be able to speak as well or be as precise as if I had gotten enough sleep. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be so vulnerable when I was so exhausted. I wrestled with Jesus for a moment but I heard Him say again “Stick to the plan, it will be worth it”.
We chatted over pancakes, bacon, eggs, oatmeal, bagels and cereal. We laughed about how the “banana nut milk” I bought was absolutely awful!
After breakfast we sat down in the living room and I told them I wanted to share the most “heartbreaking” times of my life. I told them I would likely cry, and that’s okay – I told them not to feel awkward or like they need to console me. I’m just emotional, and I’ll be okay. They giggled and said that if I cried they probably would too.
So with a shaky voice and a vulnerable heart I told them about the things that broke my heart as a little girl. I told them about my sister’s death, about the anxiety that followed, about my friend Tat’s car accident, and my grandma passing away. As soon as I told them about the time the words “Tat was killed” were spoken to me, my composure began to slip. This particular heartbreak is still so raw, even 9 months later. I apologized and took a minute to calm down. I breathed deeply, closed my eyes and told myself to pull it together.
When I opened my eyes, I saw four sets of beautiful, glossy, teary eyes staring at me with so much compassion and love – hurting for me, sharing my sadness. They were hanging off of every word I shared. Captivated and interested. These teenage girls made me feel so valued. After a while I laughed and told them they were so sweet and apologized for making them cry.
I told the girls that when I made the decision to follow Jesus, I felt like God had given me a “new heart” – even before I knew those exact words are written in His word.
I used to think having a new heart meant that it would be protected from pain and sadness, but God has actually been teaching me the contrary. Not only did He give me a new heart, but he removed my heart of stone. He brought my heart to life. He caused my hardened heart to be more alive than it had ever been. More sensitive, more tender than it could have ever been if I were in control of it. My tender, softened heart feels the joys and pains of life deeper than it knew possible. My heart breaks easier than it used to, because it’s alive.
I printed out the photo above and told the girls to write something that caused their heart to break on the back of it. I prayed for them – I prayed that God would provide healing for the pains their hearts have felt, and also that he would soften their hearts. I told them to keep that slip of paper somewhere they’ll see it – a reminder of the new heart God offers them, and a reminder that God can heal the hurt. A reminder that having a tender, soft heart that breaks easily is not a weakness, but a strength.
I suggested we do breakfast again soon, and mentioned that I would love to hear part of their story next time. Perhaps the parts that broke their sweet hearts. To my surprise, two of the girls said they would love to share.
If you’re reading this and you’ve experienced heartbreak in huge ways – I would love to hear your story, too. I want you to know that vulnerability is hard, but its worth it. I want you to know that when you’re feeling your pain God is looking at you with beautiful teary eyes, radiating love for you.
My heart was so full that day because I let these girls see the parts of my life that are hard to put on display. They cried with me and showed me that I matter to them. This is how relationships are built – often not through the simple, but the hard. This was a precious day, my friends. One I won’t ever forget.
When the girls left I felt energized and well-rested, despite the reality. The raging two hours of sleep begged me to cancel the plan and crawl back into bed that morning, where I would be safe. Where I wouldn’t have to expose myself.
But Jesus had a clear plan and He was so right – it was worth it.