This week’s chapter of Christa Black Gifford’s book, Heart Made Whole is our last chapter. And for me, it was a most meaningful and transformative one. You’ll probably notice that this post is more of Christa’s words than mine, but I think that’s important for this chapter and this post.
I feel deeply. I’ve always felt deeply. And as a little girl who was hurt, I learned to run from, avoid, and escape all of the feelings that threatened to overwhelm me. I didn’t know it at the time, but there’s a better way.
“You have permission to feel every emotion right now. Don’t suppress anything. Don’t deny the truth inside your heart. Just feel, and then bring those feelings to [God],” (Gifford, 184).
We’re in the midst of the season of Advent right now. We’re preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus. And as I meditate on that, I more fully realize that Jesus came to earth and experienced life, pain, death. There’s nothing I feel that Jesus is unfamiliar with. In fact, He doesn’t run from feelings. He fully feels them and understands them. There’s something profoundly transformative about the realization that God feels more deeply than we do. Feeling deeply is but one of the ways that we carry the image of God.
Gifford says, “Feeling our pain doesn’t prove that we lack faith — it proves our need for constant connection with God.” So, we don’t need to be ashamed or overwhelmed by the pain. We need to let it cause us to reach out to the one who understands it and can help us to bear it.
“Jesus’ intention for us as believers is never to suppress the truth of our emotions and put on fake religious smiles, attempting to deal with very natural feelings on our own. When life hurts, we hurt just as He did — and that’s simply okay,” (Gifford, 187).
Ezekial 11:19 says, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
Having a heart of stone seems so much easier than having a heart of flesh because a heart of stone doesn’t feel, and therefore, it’s not easily hurt. But having a heart of flesh is a gift. Only hearts of flesh can experience full, abundant life and help others to as well. When we “stone” up our hearts, we merely exist. God wants more for us than that. He wants us to have a whole heart — a heart of flesh — a heart that can experience the fullness of every moment of the lives God has blessed us with.
This post is the final post of our book discussion on Christa Black Gifford’s book, Heart Made Whole. Please feel free to weigh in on the post even if you haven’t read the book. Make sure to visit my co-facilitator, Jason. And if you’ve written a response to this week’s chapter, please leave it below!