We have discussed a lot of topics on these blog posts. The theme is about not losing heart. “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
How do we guard our heart? I’m not concerned with heart disease. Diet and exercise may make you happy, and in that sense, you are caring for your heart in two ways: strengthening your heart function and keeping the right attitude.
This week I have talked to a caregiver who is overwhelmed with her many responsibilities. We have been trying to get together for a few weeks, and this week, it finally happened. She is losing heart amid her endless tasks, appointments, medication schedule, and feeling isolated by the string of responsibilities. She said she doesn’t cry and yet I know she was on the edge of tears a few times. I gave her permission to feel concern for herself.
A Facebook discussion was brought to my attention. The sort of a debate a wise person doesn’t want to get involved in if they can avoid it. Two people had lost heart years ago and are in danger of abuse that could cause them extreme damage. People who have lost heart are easily abused. Abusers can spot them. I know from experience. Yikes, I was abused, not the abuser — people who have lost heart attract abusers. It’s a vicious cycle because the abused lose heart even more as they are abused and often think they deserve the abuse. NO ONE DESERVES ABUSE. NO ONE!
Loss of heart leads to a lack of desire to thrive, and that often leads to suicide. Proverbs 4:23 is not just a lovely verse to memorize; it’s essential to live it.
How Do We Lose Heart
So, back to the question “how do we lose heart?” We probably started to lose heart in our childhood. Parents thoughtlessly yelled at us for something that children do or can’t do, but we tried and failed. We agreed in our mind that we are failures or we are bad, or we should stop trying. Teachers may have embarrassed us or shamed us, and we decide to hide our heart and avoid any circumstance that would cause us shame again or we decide to be more cautious in letting our feelings show.
When we feel uncomfortable with who we are, we are losing heart; we may consistently make bad decisions in relationships, career choices, and spirituality. Losing heart often means neglecting our soul.
We agree that we are unloveable based on thoughtless comments and hurried remarks that are not true. Broken people are everywhere and can break other people without a thought. What is that adage?” Misery loves company?”
I have also worked among the homeless, and many of them have lost heart. Some are like hollow shells of people who don’t seem to have dreams or desires. Not all of them, some have told me their dreams and that their homelessness is just part of their journey to a better life. (They have to save money somehow.) Every time you pass a homeless person, please smile at them and say hello. Offer some kindness, and it will help to guard your own heart.
So, What’s the Way Out?
There is no magic formula. There is no short term way out, but there is no better time to start the process than today!
So many times, the ones who have lost heart also shut others out of their lives, contributing to their low self-esteem and causing them to be isolated. I have worked with people who are at their job and even doing a good job, but it feels like something is missing in them. I tried being friendly with a co-worker throughout our shift. She was quite capable and helpful when I needed her to team with me. Her greeting in the hallway was often a “cat sound” like meow, or other cat sounds she had mastered. She couldn’t understand why she was overlooked for a promotion. Inside her soul, she knew she was a person and capable of doing a good job, but socially, she must have felt most comfortable with her cat or cats. I’m ill-equipped to know what to do to help such a person since my efforts at friendship were met with an enthusiastic neurosis.
The place to start is not trying to change anyone else, but yourself. You are the only one you can change. Think back to your childhood and try to remember some of the things that were said to you that hurt, shamed, or caused you to want to avoid people. Identify ways you may have changed to protect yourself and especially identify agreements you consciously or unconsciously made with your accusers or shamers. Parents and teachers hold authority, and although often they are good, they are also broken in some way and may speak out of frustration or fatigue without thinking how they sound. Looking back with a heart of forgiveness can help in the healing, but may also be a hard attitude to have.
If you can identify even one thing that may have crushed your heart by shame or anger, don’t be afraid to stay there for a while. Some of the hurts could be so deep you may need to seek professional help or a pastor’s counsel. John Eldredge, the author of many books on the heart, suggests asking Jesus to come into your pain and heal your heart.
If you are having problems getting to the depth of your soul because it has been buried or is raw from hurt, pray. Jesus said that somethings could only happen through prayer and fasting. Fasting is an effective way to see your spiritual needs more clearly. Start with one meal. Refrain from eating one meal and use the time and effort you would use for a meal to pray. Lay your concerns before God. Tell Him your hurt, your anger, even your unbelief in Him or His faithfulness. Let all your anxiety out and throw it in God’s face if you need to. God is more than able to handle it. The Bible says that God rises to show you compassion. Imagine a judge sitting in his court. You are the accused, and you are waiting for the judge to pass his sentence, and you are holding your breath as you wait for what you assume is inevitable. The judge doesn’t pound his gavel. He rises and shares with you from his vast compassion. That is God and His lavish love for you.