What Is a Broken Heart?

The truth is, most brokenness is in plain sight. You just have to stop and lean into those around you. As you hear their stories and experiences, you will soon bump into the broken places of their heart. I’ve learned over and again that everyone has layers of brokenness that need patient healing. 

The only difference between the brokenness amongst us are those who spend their life hiding it and those who chose to embrace the beauty of a healing journey. The good news is that God’s compassion is endless for those who recognize their need for continual healing and maturity. He has an amazing way of addressing our darkest battles, yet in an empowering way that doesn’t leave us feeling shamed. If we could all experience this grace, it would lead us to stop playing games with each other. We could all put our masks down and allow God to move in our midst with His healing love. 

So, as we move forward, it would help to understand what brokenness is and how it occurs. Some of these meanings overlap, but here are five areas to consider: 

1. When someone’s actions hurt You

The healing journey can often begin with a simple question, like, “Who broke your heart?” For most, you can recall a number of painful experiences, where your heart was pierced in significant ways. If you say you have none, then you are probably in denial or haven’t lived long enough yet. 

The truth is, life brings with it painful experiences that can derail our potential and stunt our growth. Yet, they can become the biggest places for us to heal and then be a part of healing others. That is, if we are open to the healing process. 

Maybe you responded with tears or anger. It’s common that you suppressed that moment out of survival. You didn’t say anything, as you hoped to get away from the experience as soon as possible. Regardless of how you responded, someone’s hurtful actions can leave a place of pain in your heart. 

2. When Life Circumstances Crush You 

Life circumstances can take us by surprise and shock us, but they can also erode slowly and gradually wear us down. We are often shocked when life gets challenging, but we’ve never been promised that we’d be exempt from hardship. 

The burden and weight of certain troubles can feel like a thousand pounds crushing your chest. Each one of us has our share of trials that take us on for size. 

Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve been through. One of the dominant forces that wants to come in through painful experiences is disappointment. Whether it is losing a job, watching a parent die at a young age or experiencing a major kind of let down, disappointment that is unhealed can lead us into anger and cynicism, but it can also shut down our hearts. 

Most of us were not equipped to handle the disappointments in life. I haven’t met one person who has not had to face circumstantial challenges that at times can take the wind out of their sails. 

Instead of slowing down to process what is actually happening , we can make the mistake of moving on as quickly as possible. That is not always the best response. Sometimes you just need to stop and grieve the pain. In deep disappointment, your relationship with God can become more real than ever. 

3. Life Experiences Quench the Passion

A broken heart can come about through passion and dreams being quenched. 

How many of you in your journey had hopes, dreams and aspirations that never worked out as planned? You had an initial passion, but the lack of results or open doors sucked the life out of your hunger? It’s like turning on a garden hose full blast, but the hose develops a kink in the line. Fairly soon, the water stops flowing. Dreams being quenched is like that small kink in the line. If it is not addressed, it can interfere with the overall flow. 

4. When Your Heart Gets Shattered

The word “broken-hearted,” is like having your emotional and spiritual protection ruptured, leaving your heart broken into pieces. Putting it back together can be incredibly challenging and at times, confusing and overwhelming. 

So, what do we do about this? And where do we go to process this out? Most people feel left alone in the pain of being shattered, so they go to whatever they can to just get by. They often shove the pain down as far as they can and just get back to busy living. Why? Because life keeps moving. The world doesn’t stop because you have a broken heart.  

Many shattered people can still show outward success in business and other areas of life. They believe that because they have open doors and great opportunities for achievement, their brokenness is not an issue. So, we end up with a lot of people saying “I’m FINE”, when deep down, they’re not. But at some point, we will all be confronted with a choice: will we face the pain that shattered our hearts?

5. When You Are Empty 

We live in a sea of emptiness and emotional voids. But do we recognize this is a major sign that your heart is broken? 

Emptiness involves the “woundedness of lack,” meaning your brokenness stems from what you should have been given, but did not. 

  • You should have been loved growing up, but you were neglected.
  • You should have heard your father’s loving words, but didn’t.
  • You should have received nurture from your mother, but didn’t.
  • You should have been equipped to live as an overcoming adult, but weren’t.
  • You were ignored. 

These areas tear at us, but we often don’t realize it, so the damage takes place silently. The wound of lack can be very difficult to identify, because it involves NOT receiving what you should have. If you live your whole life ignorant to what you should have received, it can be hard to identify what your emptiness is all about. 

Wherever love has not been solidified in our lives, brokenness resides. 

  • You were born to hear the words I love you.
  • You were born to see love demonstrated.
  • You were born to be equipped as an overcomer. 

God gives us the model of earthly relationships to understand His nature. But so many of our experiences have been tainted, we have a hard time seeing what unconditional love looks like. We need healing to our broken hearts. 

BH/Adapted Mark DeJesus

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