A Broken Open Heart

I have a dream of taking my family to a warm, tropical location. It is a very big dream, and likely a long way off in the future, but one day I was talking with a dear friend about my dream and the idea of going to a place that might be more “third world.” I knew she was just the person to talk to, because she is one of those people who always holds me accountable, but in a caring way.
I told her that I was worried about my kids seeing lots of really poor people and it upsetting them. And then I asked her if I was being dumb. Very consolingly, she told me, “Yes.” But then she said something I can’t quit thinking about. She said, “Their hearts might be broken open a little, but that is never a bad thing.”
Psalm 34: 18 says, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. I just love that verse. And I love what my friend told me. I find myself so tempted to want to save my kids from being sad. I don’t want them to watch the news or to hear about tragedies in the world because I want to protect their innocence as long as possible.
And while I don’t believe kids really need to watch the news, I do believe that if I am raising them in the faith, then they are going to get their hearts broken, because that is where God is and that is where God calls us to be too.
That is a promise. When our hearts are broken, God is there.
But now I have to make a confession. When I asked my friend about bringing my kids to a hard place to visit, what I was really thinking about is that I didn’t want it to ruin my vacation. I don’t want to have to hear them be upset about a sad world when I’m trying to get a tan and drink a margarita.
Wow. That is tough to realize about myself. And as I have been thinking about this, I have been praying that maybe my heart would be broken open a little bit more as well.
That is what Lent is about, I think. Our hearts being broken open again to the amazing sacrifice of Jesus. Who would not ignore the pain of this world—and stay up in heaven at the great wedding banquet.
Instead, he took on our pain, our flesh, our brokenness and held it close. While I might try and avoid feeling that pain, God never does. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
I don’t know if we will get to take our dream vacation, but I know the kids will do trips with the youth at SLC and they will get their hearts broken. And I pray that they won’t even have to go that far away. I pray their hearts will be broken when they see a kid being bullied or when they see racism or other pain.
Because we can’t avoid this broken world. And with God’s help, I pray I can stop trying.

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