A decade ago, I picked up John Eldredge’s book Waking the Dead. Finding myself in need of a defibrillator these days, I have picked it up once again. Amazing what happens in a year or two, much less 10. The central message of the book is you can try to do life without your heart, but the severity of such disengagement is costly. Deadly, to be exact.

There are so many things that come against the heart. I probably don’t need to spell out what those are because at the end of the day, a good summation is (insert drum roll…) heartbreak. Ten years ago, he met me on a fall day in my little casa in Asheville, NC. I was an inconsolable mess, sitting on my back deck.

In the aftermath of heartbreak, I was wanting to shut down, go fetal position, and hide in a hole. That day the tears leaked like rain running down a window pane. At some point, time froze indefinitely and I had a vision. I was teetering on the edge of a canyon; one slip and it was over. Someone grabbed me from behind and pulled me back so that I was only able to see the horizon. Laying on the ground, I was seeing my heart, shattered on countless pieces. It was my insides and outsides, all hemorrhaged and displaced. And Jesus, not saying a word and ever so gently, was picking up each piece and tucking them into Himself, his heart, mysteriously.

That quick vision sparked what I needed. Hope. His courage, mixed with my brokenness.  Leaning into the excruciation of heart break, I slowly began to trust the process. Him. I had zero control. No idea how this was going to go. I found He was not at all intimidated by my darkness, brokenness, humanity, and broken pieces. He was attracted to me right there, not averse to my mess, and most certainly not standing cross armed, foot tapping, with a scolding posture, waiting for me to get my act together.

Well, what’s changed since that day? Everything. Today, I am daringly asking Him to do it again, but I find the tension of my past bleeding into my present, and I don’t know if I have the courage. To live fully alive, passionate and free (have been there for a time), or dulled, still, motionless and numb (there now). That is the question. What stands in my way? Fear of more heartbreak and doing this again in the decade ahead. Ugh. (Just being real). Does it ever end?

I know I’ve lived without my heart the past number of years, numbing found in grad school books, listening intently to other people’s pain, losing touch with self.  Heartbreak. Loss. The winds of change, and the pangs of a long drawn out season dubbed one long dark season of the soul. My heart has gone awol.

I wonder sometimes what God meant when he said, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Especially when your heart is awol, ravaged by war (a.k.a. life). The human heart is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. He came to put it back together. For you, and for me.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

A comfort to my weary soul is that He intimately knows my sorrows. He bore my heartbreak. He knows me, just as I am. He is drawn to my brokenness, and yours, with an affection that only a perfect lover can bear.