(Don’t) Take Another Little Piece of My Heart

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me…to bind up the brokenhearted…” Isaiah 61:1 KJV

This from a June 2005 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter:

“Intimate connections between the heart and mind were once taken for granted. In some cultures, the heart was believed to be the seat and source of emotions. As Western medicine gradually unraveled these connections, heart and mind drifted apart. A new field, behavioral cardiology, is trying to stitch them together again, this time with strong scientific threads.”

Congestive Heart Failure is running rampant among us, affecting literally millions of people who have it, not to mention all the people who love them. It took my father after a battle that lasted a few years. You see, CHF is a terminal diagnosis. Medicine doesn’t offer a way to reverse a failing heart, short of replacing it – yet. Daddy wasn’t a candidate for a transplant. Few who are candidates actually receive donor hearts. I don’t know if there was a reason Daddy’s heart failed, other than living in this cursed old world, but I do know his heart had been broken.

While Daddy was in hospice, my Pomeranian, Martha Sue, spent many hours lying beside him in his hospital bed. “Where’s Martha?” he’d ask if he didn’t see her right away. Everyone who came by commented on how she stayed with him. Years later Martha Sue’s little heart began to fail, and Congestive Heart Failure took her in 2012. I knew nothing about failing hearts prior to Daddy’s diagnosis, so it felt coincidental when Martha contracted it, too.

Martha was adored by a chocolate poodle named Genevieve. Gen followed Martha everywhere from the time she could toddle. Although Martha barely tolerated her, Genevieve never seemed to notice. She was a happy dog who lived joyfully every day. Genevieve loved Martha madly and grieved for days when Martha could no longer be found. The spring after her big sister died, little Gen began to cough the same way Martha had. The vet said her heart had a murmur and was enlarged. Then she said the words. Congestive Heart Failure. I was stunned. Little Genevieve passed on a Sunday morning just this month.

I can’t help wondering if there is more than a tangential connection between Daddy and Martha Sue, between Martha and Genevieve. Broken hearts come in all shapes and sizes, in creatures great and small. Sometimes we lose the ones we love. They die, or even more painful, we become dead to them. Look into the face of a child, at the joy and hope and anticipation. Look at the innocent expectation. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see how their stories end, decades later, with so many promises unfulfilled. Myriad forces never sleep, working day and night to take us apart at our core, one piece at a time. We can weather sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit? (Proverbs 18:14)

There is only One who has the skills to tend properly a heart that’s shattered and grieving: Jesus, Whose own heart was thrust through with a sword. (Psalm 109:22). A thousand psychiatrists and psychologists and counselors and physicians cannot in a hundred years do what He can do in a moment, certainly in a lifetime. He alone took the cursed bullet for us. He took every wound into Himself so we can heal. He can bind up those broken pieces until the heart becomes whole again. Not just patched up. Truly whole and strong again.

It’s easy to wrap ourselves around heartache and nurture it. But we mustn’t. Weeping may endure for a night, but we must allow joy to come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) There is indeed a time to mourn, but eventually mourning must give way to dancing. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Don’t let the devil take another little piece of your heart now, Baby. He doesn’t deserve it.

© M K Simonds



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