Living With a Broken Heart
May 18, 2020 · by Whitney Gothra
Hello, my name is Whitney, and I’m a feeler.
Just thought I’d get that out of the way now. Any personality test I take ends in the same results: something to do with feelings and emotions and sensitivity. My favorite, the Enneagram, describes my type as the Peacemaker. While that sounds good and noble, it’s not necessarily because I create peace everywhere I go. It’s because I do everything in my power to avoid conflict or anything that creates inner chaos.
For me, this Coronavirus/COVID-19/Coronapocalypse is nothing but chaos. Sure, there are some absolutely beautiful things to come out of this season, but they have been birthed in pain.
When everything first began, it took a while for it to feel real. Then, rather quickly, school was shut down, non-essential businesses were closed, churches were moved to live-streams, and the world changed. My heart moved into this constant position of grief.
I feel so hesitant to talk about my experience because countless people around the globe have it so much worse than I do. It’s like complaining about a bug bite on your ankle to a man who has lost his leg. Yet, here I am, sharing away. Our measures of pain may weigh on us differently, but I do feel we all have a story to tell during this season.
For these past three months, I feel like I have carried this unexplainable grief. I looked out into the world, and it was just too heavy. I couldn’t comprehend the number of friends and loved ones who lost their jobs and financial security. I grieved for the lonely and depressed and anxious now isolated in their homes. I worried about those living with their abusers or children in unsafe environments with no physical access to the relief of school or church. The health threat, the financial defeat, the security loss, the isolation. It just all felt so heavy.
Then, last week, I felt it all culminate in an explosion half a block away. A family in my neighborhood lost their livelihood in a matter of minutes as their automotive workshop burned to the ground. I sat on my couch and watched the flames leap to the sky and the smoke pour out in thick clouds.
What were they going to do? How were they going to rebuild in the time of COVID?
My mind wandered to the grief I was carrying for my loved ones. What was the family in my church going to do who had unexpectedly lost their grandfather? How do we mourn in this season? What was my family member going to do with the threat of a scary health diagnosis? How do we face the unknown when everything we lean on as security has been shifted? What were we going to do as a country, seemingly more divided than ever? What was God going to do with all this hurt and confusion and broken, grieving hearts?
Then I felt that still, small voice speak to me: “Why haven’t you been feeling this way all along?”
Umm … what? No, thank you. My “feelers” are felt out.
But God quietly nudged me again. Where was this weight of grief before the Coronavirus?
With this clear, evident, and scary pandemic, I have been concerned for my neighbors, my community, my friends, and the world. I picked up the burden and carry it in my heart. I think about it daily. I talk about it freely.
But where was this level of deep concern before? Have I prayed about my loved ones’ eternal salvation as much as I have prayed about their salvation from the effects of this virus? Am I as concerned about my neighbor’s souls as I am their small business?
I was immediately convicted.
I have been in my daughters’ doctors office twice since the pandemic and have freely told each nurse and doctor that I was praying for them. I felt no shame or hesitancy in letting them know that I serve a God Who is greater than the Coronavirus. But before all this, I never ONCE told them out of the blue that I was praying for them. I never told them I serve a God Who is greater than their every need, every ailment, every sin, every fear.
The effects of the virus are real, but the effects of sin are even greater.
I have prayed for God to break my heart with what breaks His, but clearly I haven’t done my part to live with a broken heart. Sure, it’s easy to be broken by a global pandemic. I’m reminded daily of our world’s pain. But it takes intention to allow your heart to be broken for the lost. For those who don’t even know they’re in pain. For those who don’t even know what they’re missing. To look beyond the natural and into the spiritual.
I now pray that this pandemic leaves me broken. That I never recover from this weight of heartbreak. When the world goes back to whatever “normal” is awaiting us, maybe we as a church can come back changed. Maybe we can come back with freshly broken hearts, ready to bring hope to the spiritual need as much as we have endeavored to bring hope to the natural.
Living with a broken heart is painful, but aren’t we called to be “living sacrifices?” To live as though we are broken, split apart, for Him? Maybe there’s something in that pain that God can more easily work through? Maybe there’s something in that brokenness that He can shine through?
If His strength is revealed in our weakness, is it our brokenness that reveals His wholeness? Lord, let me live with a beating, broken heart for You.