This world is full of broken hearts, during the course of your life you will have one or many. It is unavoidable. Either we put our hearts out into the world to be broken, or we seal them up behind walls of stone and they still break. Each individual will experience heartbreak for various reasons that are distinct and individual. What breaks one heart will not harm another the reasons are varied. We do know that a break may be followed by intense feelings of loss and depression. Some experience chest pain and stomach aches, while others overeat to numb the pain. Some can’t get out of bed while others are plagued with insomnia. One thing that remains the same is the pain that comes from the shatter.
There is no way to stop a broken heart. They have happened in every country and every time period throughout history. Famous authors have written beautiful poems and stories for as long as time to express the pain and suffering around such sadness and loss. And it is sure that future authors and poets will also write about this very real human experience.
After heartbreak it is tempting to forget loving. It is not uncommon to build a thick wall around our hearts vowing that we will never feel that pain again. Yet, sealing up our hearts can be more painful than sharing them. Once we have faced heartbreak even if we are willing to share we tend to be a little hesitant and reserved when it comes to sharing that precious part of us with anyone.
This article is for those that have faced heartbreak and have a desire to help others that are hurting find their heart again in a gentle loving way. These four stepping stones are what I need when I am hurting, and it is what I give when I see others in pain. I want everyone to know that they are loved and these steps help me feel again after pain and loss.
Stepping Stone 1: Safety
This is a BIG one that can not be ignored. When we have been deeply hurt we are not willing to take our hearts back out for just anyone. If we do take it out and someone proves they are not safe it is seen as a deep betrayal that causes the break to go deeper. The heart is a tender part and comes out most fully when it feels safe. If someone shares their heart you can not be safe just once or twice, you have to be safe consistently.
Ask questions and get to really know the person. Show a genuine interest in what they say and the journey they are on. Examples: What are your kids names? What is your favorite food? Your favorite color? If you could travel anywhere where would you go? etc. These questions show that you are interested in the person and they open a door. As comfort builds and you continue to ask questions the next step will happen in time.
Soon they may share small vulnerabilities with you, and you can never share these with others. It is a sacred precious gift for someone to share fears and worries. If someone opens up to share the struggles that happen in their home or deep within their souls, this information should be treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality. Never share it without their permission unless their life or lives of their family are in danger. After sharing they may experience anxiety at the realization of what you could do with the information. BE SAFE! As they see the information stayed with you, they will begin to share more. As they share more you have started on the path to help their heart. No matter how angry you get at this person you should never use this precious information as ammunition…NO MATTER WHAT (even when they are unable to do the same for you) Choose to respond not react.
Safety does not happen if you are safe once or twice, you have to be safe consistantly.
Stepping Stone 2: Show Interest and engage with what and who they love
This is a big one. Now that you have created safety people will begin to share their triumphs. They will begin to share those things that are most precious to them. Engage, show interest and treat the things that they hold precious as precious to you too.
Take any inforamtion you learned in step one and use it to be helpful and to serve. Learn their children’s names and ask about each one individually. Learn important events like their birthday and remember to send a card or a message. If you have time take them for dessert or take a small gift to their home. Mom’s often take care of everyone else, but don’t always get taken care of. Care for them in such ways.
Stepping Stone 2: Listen with Godly Ears and See with Godly Eyes
Once you have proven that you are safe people will open up and you may learn more about them and their family than you ever imagined. You will learn great things, but you will also hear the skeletons in the closet. Most people are terrified to share the hard things happening in their lives because they are afraid of criticism and judgement. We stay isolated and sometimes feel like we may implode because we often times don’t even know how to handle what is happening around us. Keep in mind all of us have moments when we are strethced past our ability to handle life alone and we need a place to share our fears, our worries, and our darkest places. We learn as children that not every person is safe and most people are fearful that if they really share they will be judged. This is when it becomes necessary to hear with Godly Ears and See with Godly Eyes because you will hear things that you could be judgemntal about. Be cautious!
Listening to another persons darkness is not easy, and most of the time we have had to face our own darkness before we can sit with others in theirs. This step requires a person to access the deepest empathy within themselves and not react to hard things that they may hear. If someone tells us their son is in jail and we gasp, all trust is gone. We have ruined the safe place that we began to build for their heart and we will have to go back to step one and work tirelessly to recreate trust.
This step requires us to see with Godly Eyes and hear with Godly Ears. No matter how difficult the inforamtion listen without judgement and without condemning. Listen to really understand and choose to love the person no matter what. Don’t just listen to their words they may not always express themselves well. Wacth their body language…listen to their heart.
Stepping Stone 4: Return the Favor
I beleive that it is easy to break a heart and hard to help mend one. When you have someone in your life who is able to follow the steps and show true love, your heart will begin to heal. It will begin to feel safe. The last step is taking these steps and using them to find the path to someone elses heart. It is chooseing to be safe, choosing to engage, and choosing to listen and see like God. His light will shien through you and that is when miracles happen and hearts are healed.