The Big Heart

My mama says the wisest things, if I can quiet my tongue for a moment to listen.

“It’s rare, for someone to love so fully. I think people protect themselves. Most are afraid to love like that, with their whole heart. It’s a risk. But a few are willing to risk it for the payoff. ”

Oh, mama Julie. You’re so right.

God and I have had endless conversations on this topic. They usually went something like this: “Listen, God. This heart you gave me. Why? It’s too big. Did you not notice I’m a small person, God? Could I feel a little less, please?  Honestly, God, this heart you gave me just feels like a curse most days.” Some days these conversations were accompanied by hot tears of disappointment, the quiet ache of loneliness, or frustrated rants of me raising my voice at God.

The big heart didn’t bother me, once upon a time, before life lost its brand new, shiny luster, untarnished by the heartbreaks and disappointments and betrayals that adulthood inevitably brings. I loved the big heart God gave me, before life suddenly imploded without warning. Before what I thought was love turned into a living nightmare where my screams for help were silent and each day, I became smaller, more quiet, more docile, more fearful.  Before I walked away from a dark and dangerous marriage and somehow lost my entire social circle in three months. Before my best friend at the time told me to be careful because I was changing too fast, and one day I would look in the mirror and not recognize myself.

Those years, the dark years, they were a lot for the big heart to endure. And so, the big heart stopped feeling sometime in the midst of the dark years, because numbness is a survival mechanism.  Hearts are good at feeling, but they can also be excellent at playing pretend. I’ve never been one to do anything halfway, so I became the queen of pretend. I worked nonstop, partied and drank when I didn’t work, and kept everyone, especially men, at an arm’s length. I avoided anything that made me feel: church, music, and anything vaguely akin to love.

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly when I started feeling again. It was a slow thawing, a careful removing of layer after layer of bricks I had built around my soul. Music helped. Church helped, although it seemed every time I went, I cried. Slowly, tiny movement by tiny movement, healing happened. It turned out the big heart was still in there. And the big heart still loved just as big as before the dark years. Maybe bigger, actually.  Enter the conversations with God aforementioned.

It’s taken me all this time- twenty-eight and a half years, to be precise, but God and I have finally reached a peace on the big heart thing. As it turns out, the big heart is not a problem. It’s not a curse. It turns out, the big heart is actually a gift. And the dark years? Those years are a gift, too. Because my God, He doesn’t allow pain without purpose. His heart hurt big when He watched mine get crushed. His heart overflowed with joy when He watched each tiny step of healing. In fact, He was probably crying with me in the church pew. And now, He quietly speaks to me that every single piece of my once-shattered heart has been remade, and every chapter of my story can whisper love and hope to hurting hearts. (Although, I’m not always the best at whispering. So show me a little grace if I’m talking about love and hope too loud, or yelling at you about it. I’m not a halfway kind of girl, remember?)

So, the big heart. Mama Julie is right. It’s rare to love fully, but a few are willing to risk it.

Me, I’m willing again. Finally. A little older and a lot wiser from the shattering and remaking, and filled with love to flow out. To use the gift God gave me in His infinite wisdom to light the way for a few weary souls. To remind them that we’re all in this together, and that really, in the end, love wins.

Thanks for hanging with me through the mess, God. Now help me to use this heart to give out Your love- genuine and unconditional. Thank You for the big heart.