Collide blog three friends sitting on the sidewalk sharing their broken hearts and dreams

Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Recently my friend had back surgery. An avid runner, fitness instructor, and triathlete, you can imagine how hard the thought of a minimum 6-week recovery was to her. Not used to holding herself back physically, she had to allow herself to rest. Once the initial healing-stage is complete, to compete again, she has to slowly ease herself back into her normal workout routine.  

I’m a little different than her. Though I attend a fitness class here and there, I don’t teach them. For me a run is a 3-mile jog around a lake near my home, not a 12-mile Tough Mudder. I also don’t think I could swim a half-mile leg unless I was in a shipwreck. For me, having to take six weeks off and watch Downton Abbey on the couch wouldn’t be too tough. 

Physical recovery is one thing, but what if you’re facing a recovery of the heart?

I was led to this question as I recently pondered a phrase in 1 John 3:20. This verse diagnoses a common ailment many of us go through life with: a condemned heart. This idea gripped me because it brought to mind so many times in my life where I felt condemned. To discover the traitor is my own heart is sobering. Condemnation brings shame, guilt, and hiding.  I cover up so no one will see what is really there. My thoughts cycle through accusations as I heap fault after fault upon myself, allowing judgement in like a cancer.  

The ministry of Collide began when one woman’s story, our founder Willow Weston, collided with Jesus. No matter where and when that collision happens for you, you will never be the same. This phrase implies that our trajectory post-impact is always positive, but what if after meeting Jesus your soul still feels weighed down? What if you’ve begun to hope in the healing Jesus offers but deep down wonder if you’re still broken? Know that you aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve accepted Jesus as the assurance of your future hope but are still needing Him to work in your present reality.  

Recently I was speaking to a group of young adults explaining the concept of what I call ‘agreements,’ lies your heart internalizes that hold you back from walking in truth. These messages are easy to accept because they are based on real events from your past, and often are associated with pain and disappointment.

For me, condemnation slipped in during childhood as I tried to make sense of my fractured family. I was plagued with doubt about my worth, my purpose, and at times questioned the very reason for my existence. I existed as a burden, feeling like I made everyone’s life more difficult. My heart stood as a tyrannical judge over my life, casting disapproval and accusation my way like stones. I was laden. I tried to dispel the heaviness through personal achievement and pushed myself to excel in every area of life: physical beauty, academic achievement, athleticism, popularity. I made myself indispensable to others and tried to cultivate a reputation of kindness and positivity. In my own eyes, I had achieved what I’d set out to do. Yet it didn’t work. My heart still carried the undercurrents of accusation. The facade I created in my life did serve as a distraction, but in quiet moments my shame was uncovered.  

Here’s what brought me ultimate healing: coming to know that Jesus saw my self-doubt, and that He could peer beneath my carefully curated exterior to see the wounded girl underneath and still delight in me. In whatever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things (1 John 3:20). God is greater than your condemning heart, your nagging sense of guilt, the reminders of mistakes and regrets that flood your memory, the harsh words spoken over you, the willing choices you have made that promised satisfaction but left you empty, your disappointment, failure, ridicule, rejection, and abandonment. God is bigger. This same God, who knows all things, loves you anyway. And He loves you not despite those things but because of those things.

Knowing that God sees you with compassion, as a beloved daughter, will set your heart free. I grew up believing I could heal my own heart, that I could rid myself of shame through creating my own worth. Instead, I’ve found that the only way to feel valued is to take in all that Jesus has done on my behalf.  

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. (Romans 8:1-3)

We can only rid ourselves of condemnation by trusting what Jesus did for us. Like a skilled surgeon, He sees and knows what’s wrong and wants to transform us from the inside out. He can remove condemnation from our hearts and silence every voice that claims we are insignificant, irritating and unwanted. Trust Him to do that work in you.

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