Write what is in your heart, I heard the Lord whisper. But there is nothing there, Lord, it is empty and black, I replied. He countered with Yes, there is much there. Write what is in your heart. So I reached for my pen and I began to write and as the words poured out I realized the depths that had yet to be explored and were now being exposed.
The heart of a child is full of wonder and love and joy but it is easily broken. Careless words, thoughtless deeds, neglect and abuse steal the joy and replace the wonder with fear. The love, however, remains. Even when the child is marred and scarred for life, still the love remains. Such is the way of a child – though they may be filled with rage and anger and fear over what has happened or is happening to them, still they love.
The heart of a sensitive young girl is filled with hope and plans for the future. Her smiles are bright and her dreams are big as she faces each day fearlessly and confidently. But even the young girl becomes damaged as her peers spew hatred and judgment upon her, making her self-conscious of her appearance and causing her to withdraw into a protective shell. Her dreams of a boyfriend and school dances fade as she buries herself in books and food, trying to escape the vicious words and actions of her peers and family.
The heart of the young woman has begun to hope again after having escaped from the world of school and peer pressure into the working world. She is finding self-esteem in having a job at which she excels and money – earned by her own hands – to spend as she wants without anyone else controlling her decisions. She begins to bloom into womanhood a little later than most because unlike others she was retarded in her emotional growth. Her sensitive nature cost her dearly and she just could not get past the pain and hurt until she escaped the circumstances. Now she is on her own. Now she is free to be herself – to discover who she really is deep inside.
It is all a farce, really. She isn’t interested in finding out who she is but in finding someone who will give her affection and maybe even love. She is quick to fall into the trap lain by self-serving men and too quickly married to someone who doesn’t love her but wants to use her for his own devices. Hope and love which had blossomed briefly are now crushed under the pain of degradation, rejection, and psychological abuse from a bigamist. In her desperation to love and be loved she becomes pregnant, rejoicing in the fact that FINALLY she has someone to love.
The heart of the fully grown woman is wise and slightly hard. Yet even now it holds hope for some semblance of happiness – a taste of normalcy and the possibility of a future. She guards her heart now, not giving it to anyone even though she marries again in the hope that a normal family life can be found for her and her child. Yet again she discovers the agony of abuse, betrayal and rejection. The abuse takes on more physical forms in this relationship. It seems that the abuse has been escalating with each relationship and each time she becomes colder, more distant, more withdrawn into a shell. She has become adept at shallow relationships that do not reveal the true nature of her home life. All hope of normalcy is crushed when her own husband rapes her and then abuses her daughter. She is terrified of him as his drunken rages and terror tactics ensure her compliance and when she discovers he has packed a handgun to take on their ‘vacation’ in the country she realizes that she has nothing to lose. She begins to push and push against the terrorist, almost daring him to act. She refuses him again and finally, in his violent reaction she finds courage to stand against him and all he stands for – leaving him and her hopes of a normal life behind.
The heart of the mature woman is dead. Oh, she has learned to play the game and knows just what noises to make to sound compassionate and loving. She has mastered the art of the phony smile and if anyone sees behind it to the pain buried within they never mention it. She is the life of the party and puts on a face of enjoying her freedom, but deep, deep within she is crying out for someone to love her. She is forty years old and never felt loved. Surely someone out there needs to be loved as much as she does? She prays and waits and waits and prays.
Once again she succumbs to her loneliness and marries someone she is sure is different. In reality he turns out to be every bit the sociopath of her previous mistake with some insanity thrown in for good measure. This one lies so much she doesn’t know when he is telling the truth. He can’t be trusted. Even after all of the years of abuse and misuse she is still naïve enough to think he means what he says when he apologizes and makes an attempt at trying to change. But nothing changes and her dead, cold heart holds only one hope: death. She longs to die. She prays to die. Then she prays he will die. Then she repents and prays he will just leave her alone – forever leave her alone.
Sometime along the way the Lord heard her prayers and began to change the one she wanted to leave. Her heart is still dead but he is becoming less – – – offensive. Slowly he changes until one summer day there seems to be an epiphany of sorts and he is no longer the same man. Somehow great change has occurred but she is still unbelieving. Too many years of abuse, lies, deceit, and broken promises have made her more than a skeptic. So she waits, with her dead heart and no hope, to see what will happen next.
The elderly heart is tired of being dead, tired of waiting for what never comes and reaches out in hope, determined to cling to prayer and fasting until her need is met. Now true change begins. The dead heart is opened and old memories and deep wounds are healed, one by one, as the Lord restores what has been stolen and broken. She has days where she thinks her heart is still dead but still she clings to the Lord, waiting for His intervention. He begins to replace the bad memories with good memories and the brokenness with joy and laughter. She rests in His presence and soaks in the sunshine of His love and grace, letting waves of mercy heal her wounded soul.
Finally, it comes. The elderly heart, once so dead and lifeless, is now full to overflowing with joy and peace and love which she carries with her at all times. It has been replaced with the heart of a child. Gone is the brokenness. Gone is the fear. Gone is the timidity. Gone is the victim. What remains is wonder and love and joy.
Our years are short and numbered. Sixty years is a long time to live in despair and destruction. It would be easy to fall into blaming and depression over the short time I have left to live in wonder and love and joy. Instead, I have chosen to believe that only God numbers our days and if He wants to, He can give me sixty MORE years to replace those that were stolen from me.
I believe He can do the same for you. My prayer today is that God will restore all of your years the enemy has stolen.
1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19 “Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.
So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, unto they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives … had been taken captive.
Then David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters, but David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” and He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”
…So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all.”