Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can Hearts Really Break?

Can hearts really be broken?

It seems that if a heart is broken, it doesn't work anymore. So, I tend to think that, unless you've had a heart attack or a heart transplant, that your heart hurts, but is not broken. I've seen many, many kids with bruised, battered, and hurt hearts come into Promise House. Their hearts still work, but not very well. They pump and everything, but they can't hold much joy or sadness because they're just not very strong. Hopefully, while they are with us, their hearts will mend a bit and become able to hold alot more feelings.

Sometimes when we get a rough kid in, we know that connecting with him or her is going to hurt their heart. Because for these kids, kindness triggers lots of hurt and pain that they try to protect by being tough. So we have to go slow, so their heart has time to adjust to feeling good.

How can a heart hold great joy along with great sadness all at the same time?

Like this weekend--incredible, undefinable joy at seeing my daughter graduate from high school and at the same time, deeper than deep sadness over the loss of a long-time friendship. Or, many years ago, my mother dying while I was pregnant with my oldest daughter--the unabashed joy I felt when giving birth existing right along with my terrible grief at not having my mother with me. How can a heart hold that much? Does the joy help it not be so hurt, or does the sadness minimize the joy? I don't think so. It is awesome to me that both states co-exist in the same heart and somehow enhance the other.

How many hurts can a heart take before it breaks? Does sadness, grief, anger, loss, cause physical heart problems? Who knows. But I know that my heart can hurt with joy just as much as it hurts with sadness and grief. What is that about? Are they the same in some way? Is that what they mean by poignant---joy and sadness mixed up?

If so, this weekend was a poignant time. My heart hurt---from joy and sadness---but it's not broken. It still works very well, pumping right along. And I am ever grateful that it is big enough and strong enough to hold seemingly polar opposite states at the same time.

Would that we could give our teens that gift.

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