One of the questions I am asked the most about my work with homeless people and ex- offenders is, "Is it not really hard on you? How do you cope with so much heartache?" It’s a great question because essentially I am surrounded by heartache, broken lives, shattered dreams and seemingly hopeless situations every day.
Some of the hardest to cope with are the situations with young children and babies. Seeing those who, by no fault of their own, are immersed in a world of deep tragedy and brokenness with no tools to help themselves is really difficult. Compassion for these babies comes quickly, and it breaks us.
Those babies often grow up to be men and women who are still carrying the same tragedy from childhood and are still without tools or opportunity. Again, it’s heart-breaking and overwhelming. It’s so painful.
I remember some years ago, a baby we were caring for was being placed back to a very difficult home life and a dark future. I was hit with the reality that my heart would forever be broken - not just by this one baby but by the many instances of systematic oppression, racism, injustice, pain and sadness I witness weekly, if not daily, around me. It is around all of us in various forms.
It was then that I understood that my heart should remain broken and unhinged by what was never meant to be in this world, by what breaks the heart of the Creator of the world.
It was then that I understood that my heart should remain broken and unhinged by what was never meant to be in this world, by what breaks the heart of the Creator of the world. He weeps over the ones who are forgotten and so should I. He mourns the lost futures of those who aren't valued as highly as others, and so should I. He is a God who loves justice and mercy and so should I. His heart breaks for a world that is full of pain and oppression, how can ours not break for the same?
Over the years, through my personal journey with Him, I have learned that while carrying the broken heart I can ALSO live with a fully whole, healed and life giving heart, despite the brokenness surrounding me. With a father who cares deeply for me, I have daily access to healing and wholeness that is complete and beautiful. This journey has involved receiving my identity in Him, and allowing myself to be vulnerable and raw about wounds in my personal life. I have had to recognise the lies I have believed and engage in receiving truth. Then, by letting my Father parent me in the healing way that His character displays, I can truly live with a whole heart.
God’s nature and character displays a wonderful relationship between the different parts of the trinity in a beautiful example of wholeness. In being fully whole, He also carries a broken heart for his children. Like Him, I want to never be okay with the pain around me. I want to live and lead in a constant understanding of His goodness towards me and His healing power into every area of my life. He asks me to step into a world of deep brokenness with a shattered heart and invite others to receive from Him, too. Leading with a broken heart has drawn me deeper into having a whole heart, and knowing that both can exist together is one of God’s beautiful mysteries.