I’ve gained twelve pounds over the past two years, and I’m afraid I am slowing growing accustomed to the extra weight. Change, like weight, can come gradually or occur in an instant. Either way, it comes, and I must decide what to do about it. The lessons last week were about lightening the load on my heart, and that is proving to be much more difficult than shedding a few pounds.
My heart gains and carries excess weight just as my body and can accept the extra burden or get rid of it. The former is far easier, so my heart has grown heavier and heavier as a result of a lifetime of bad choices. Bad choices made for me during my childhood led to bad choices I made on my own. I bought into the lies that formed the foundation of those choices, and the cycle caused my heart to accept the heavy weight as its fate. I was meant to be hurt, and there was nothing I could do about it. I should accept the burden and grow in the suffering. It’s okay. It’s not as bad as it could be. Whatever ridiculous response I had, they all reflected the truth etched on my heart. I was not worthy of love.
The lessons this summer have been particularly hard because God took me out of my comfort zones and left me feeling exposed. He’s used the weight I gained in the past two years to help me see the weight that has been accumulating in my heart for decades. He lovingly showed me that the weight on my heart was far worse those extra pounds on my body. No amount of dieting or physical activity was going to make a difference if I didn’t deal with the load on my heart.
When hearts and bodies give up, they settle. When they settle, they become sedentary. When they become sedentary, dead weight accrues. The cycle is the same for the heart. Growing accustomed to the weight leads to accepting it as fate, and that is fatal for the heart and the body. My heart and body have been in a terrible state of acceptance over the past four months, and their settling has unsettled me. When I’m unsettled, I do my best to cover it up. I’ve never had a problem covering up pain. My mama taught me at an early age to put a happy face on a broken heart. It is the surest sign of giving up.
Giving up is a choice, and fate is about not having a choice at all. Both offer an easy way out, but God offers something more. He gives me the right to choose and loves me no matter what choice I make. He takes my bad choices and turns them into lessons. He knows that choice and love must go hand in hand. He also knows that making the wrong choices is part of the journey. I have made more than my share of bad choices when it comes to my heart, and the brokenness has given me compassion.
When my heart comes to a crossroad, it can continue along the same path or make a turn. The choice is, and always will be, mine to make. God is at every turn, but He will not force me to go in the direction He knows is best for my heart. He will only get involved if I ask for help. Asking God means admitting I need help, and that has never been easy for me because I’ve always seen myself as beyond help or deserving the hurt.
The world tells me to be strong and make my own way. Live with my mistakes. Don’t get my hopes up. God tells me that He is my hope and strength. He bids me to let His Spirit deal with burdens I cannot handle alone. My heart and body are not designed to carry excess weight, and that weight will numb or kill if left unattended. Sometimes, I come to a place of decision after an epiphany. Sometimes, there is a straw that breaks my back. More often, choice comes in a still moment of surrender. That’s what happened this morning when I looked into the heart of One Who loves me the way He wants me to be loved and saw myself with His eyes. That put choice in a whole new Light. Jesus says it best in Matthew 11:30:
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NASB)