Human beings are messy people. We simultaneously desire friendship and romantic involvement yet we are confronted often with our inability to have consistent, encouraging relationships. The Bible contains many honest accounts of hurting people and captures the way that they journey through life, often licking their wounds as they relate to others. Movies and TV shows often mirror this real-life drama and tension as well. Brokenness is everywhere. Even people and relationships that seem pristine carry the scars of life on their hearts.
YOU WHEN YOU WERE EXPERIENCING EMOTIONAL
pieced back together with duct tape in a sandwich
WHAT ARE SOME ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE DESCRIBED
spilled out over coffee. A shattered heart slowly
you didn’t even know existed. Pieces of relationship
IN LIFE THAT YOU THINK CAN LEAVE A HEART BROKEN
disparaging remark about yourself. Hurting in places
THAT SWIRL ABOUT US. WHAT ARE SOME EXPERIENCES
you don’t mean in an argument. Overhearing a
HEARTS ARE OFTEN WOUNDED BY THE JAGGED EDGES
A shard of glass found in the park. Screaming things
BECAUSE LIFE IS MESSY AND PEOPLE ARE BROKEN, OUR
Jay, my 12-year old son, my husband, and I sat in our new living room only a few nights after we had moved into our new home. I’ll never forget the moment—the moment he told us he wanted to go live with his real dad. I just listened, as if in a sudden emotional fetal position, as he spoke. I felt my heart could never recover. I told him I would need to pray about the decision and asked for a little time. I remember that tear-filled night of grief, anguish, and pain with such weightiness. The next morning I felt God join me on my daily exercise walk. He took every step with me. I felt a peace so remarkable that it remains the most powerful feeling I’ve felt—even more powerful than my broken heart. Our last day with him as a part of our home came. Five months had passed during which I had prayed and prayed and prayed. Through sobs, I packed most everything in his room so that he could have a sense of permanence in his new home. Then I layed on his bed in a dizzying array of emotions that made me so aware of every scent, texture, and smell. The first of hundreds of times I’d go in his room to detect the slightest remnant of my son’s presence. Today, Jay is a graduate student on the way to what I know is going to be a fantastic life. And God has given my husband and I an additional gift: our son Samuel. The peace God gave me on that walk only grew. It was all about trust amidst the disorientation of heartbreak. — DEDE —
PRIME <<<Show Video 2/6, 22 Days>>> Our Enemy, the devil, knows that our hearts are the source of real life. He has so many ways of striking at the core of our being and wounding us. He taints the source of our lives and poisons relationships as a result.
Guard your heart above all else for it is the source of life. PROVERBS 4:23 (HCSB)
1. How can I have empathy without feeling certain things? Oh, God, don’t let me forget how (loss, etc) feels. Something will come up and I will use this.
Reflect on the film snapshot that made the biggest impression on you. Why do you think it had such an impact upon you? What really happened in that scene?
In the scene where the little girl runs to meet her father with her drawing, what message do you think is imprinted on her heart as he avoids embracing her?
- Dede -
What were some of the heart wounds you think this father might have been carrying with him that affected how he treated his daughter? Does that at all help us to think differently about him as a person?
Pete says, “Forgiveness isn’t cheap but it is always vital.” What do you think it was going to cost this young lady to forgive her father?
SKETCH Throughout the Bible there are stories of brokenness and healing. Some stories turn out well while others leave us searching for God in the midst of peoples’ troubles. Some struggle through to redemption while others really never seem to resolve their crises of the heart. Early in the biblical account, we see Cain killing his brother Abel because he was jealous of the offering that Abel gave to God. Cain never seems to find resolution with either God or man. Later, Esau plots the death of his brother Jacob when he realizes that Jacob has stolen both his birthright and the blessing of his father.
“Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” GENESIS 27:41 (NIV)
What lies about his brother or himself do you think Esau believed in order to bring him to the point of murdering his brother?
Why do you think that Jacob wanted so badly to steal Esau’s birthright as well as his blessing? How much do you think he valued his relationship with Esau?
The Jacob and Esau story doesn’t end there. Jacob leaves his home, finds a wife (well, he finds two wives, but that’s a story for another day), and, after amassing a small fortune, he leaves his father-in-law’s town to return home. As you can imagine, Betrayal. Jealousy. Deceit. The plot lines of many biblical stories read more like ancient soap operas than the sanitized Sunday School lessons they’ve often been reduced to. To me, one of the convincing proofs that the Bible is real is that these aren’t the kind of stories I would make up to prove my point about the way you should live. In fact, with one very notable exception, the “heroes of the Bible” aren’t really “heroes” at all, but real men and women who often make poor choices and lead broken lives. At least I have something in common with all these “characters” – we all need to be saved from ourselves. - Jay -
he’s nervous about seeing his brother again. He divides his family and possessions in two so that they can get away if Esau comes fighting. Jacob then wrestles with an angel of God the night before he meets Esau again. This significant event would be a spiritual turning point in Jacob’s life. He later approaches Esau in a humble state – bowing on the ground seven times. Then a surprising thing occurs:
“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” GENESIS 33.4 (NIV)
What a contrast in outcome between this story of brothers and that of Cain and Abel! 3.
How do you imagine Jacob felt prior to meeting his brother again? What about Esau? What do you think brought about the change in their relationship when they did meet again?
Life, like many of the stories in the Scriptures, doesn’t always end so nicely. People get hurt, are estranged, and relationships are permanently damaged. Is there a conflict in your own life that comes to mind as you hear the story of Jacob and Esau? What wounds do you think have contributed to the relationship?
We are broken people, quite capable of sinning against God and hurting others. We are broken people – people against whom others often inflict emotional pain as well. More often than not, it is the people in our lives who are closest to us who can hurt us the most.
Why do you think we so often act out of the pain in our hearts and hurt others whom we care about?
When we think of hurt, we often wonder where God was in the midst of it all. 6.
Where was God when someone sinned against you? Why do you think He allowed it to happen?
We may never know the answers to some of these questions, but we do have some idea of how God views us in the midst of our heart wounds. Read Psalm 51:17.
“Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”
PSALM 51:17 (THE MESSAGE)
Think of a time when you were hurt and it seemed that God was far away. Has God since shown you where He was during that time or is that something that you need to ask Him about?
“...for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.” HEBREWS 13:5 (HCSB)
STRETCH In the film, Pete talks about forgiveness being costly. It takes a lot of emotional energy to forgive. The person being forgiven might never acknowledge that they did something wrong. They may never make amends. You may always carry around some scars, either physically or emotionally. Forgiveness carries risk. 1.
What do you think we risk when we forgive others, especially when they have not even asked for our forgiveness?
Jesus offers other ways of dealing with forgiveness. When the followers of Jesus ask him how to pray, he teaches them what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer.” The prayer includes this plea for forgiveness:
“…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
What do you think this prayer says to us about the relationship between us forgiving others and how God forgives us?
“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.”
MATTHEW 6:14-15 (HCSB)
In what ways does forgiving release someone else to live from his or her true heart?
How have you seen forgiveness work as a release in your own life?
in the Scriptures is often connected with service. Here is a short account of Jesus
I once heard the life-story of a spiritual director whose ministry had crossed paths with Nouwen’s on several occasions. His conversations about leading from the heart had led him to this conclusion: “Many people ask what the world needs and then they try to go and do that. Instead, ask what makes your heart come alive and then go do that, because that is what the world truly needs.”
healing the mother-in-law of one of His followers:
- Jay -
“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
COLOSSIANS 1:13-14 (HCSB)
GLOSS Some people understand brokenness as another way of acknowledging our own sin and hurt. The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen describes the ways that healing
”By this time they were in front of Peter’s house. On entering, Jesus found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed, burning up with fever. He touched her hand and the fever was gone. No sooner was she up on her feet than she was fixing dinner for him.” MATTHEW 8.14-15 (THE MESSAGE)
What feelings do you think motivated Peter’s mother-in-law to serve Jesus so soon after her recovery from illness?
It’s so easy in the middle of our pain to think God has left us and that we’re alone in our struggles. However, the pain can be so deep sometimes and so hurtful that we become delirious; we don’t think clearly and allow irrational thoughts to take over. At that point, we begin to see God as distant or even think He has abandoned us but He hasn’t; He’s there waiting patiently for us to turn back to Him. - Jennifer -
A similar phenomenon occurs when Jesus meets a sinful tax collector in Jericho:
“There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man. So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since He was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, because today I must stay at your house.’ So he quickly came down and welcomed Him joyfully. All who saw it began to complain, ‘He’s gone to lodge with a sinful man!’ But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!’ ‘Today salvation has come to this house,’ Jesus told him, ‘because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.’”
LUKE 19:2-10 (HCSB)
Somewhere along the way, Zacchaeus had been wounded at the heart level and perhaps even acted out of his pain as he performed the tasks of tax collector. What do you think Jesus said or did to transform his heart?
Nouwen says in light of these examples, “In our own woundedness we can become a source of life for others.” (The Wounded Healer, Nouwen). It is difficult to be broken, to acknowledge that we have been hurt, that we have hurt ourselves, that in hurting others we have also hurt ourselves. We all carry around scars. But what if that’s not the end? What if this forgiveness, this releasing, could lead to something else? A young lady found out when she was thirteen that she had to have serious back surgery for scoliosis. What did her parents do? They found someone who had gone through a similar struggle. They took her week-by-week to give blood so that she could bank her own blood for surgery. This mentor talked with the girl about surgery and what it was like. She was there for her. Her physical brokenness and consequent healing was offered to the hurting young lady as a gift – here was someone who had gone through something similar and was alive to tell about it! As a result, she was burdened to help others. 3.
Have you ever had something in your life – an area of brokenness be it physical, emotional, or spiritual – that you were able to offer in the role of a “wounded healer” to someone else?
Fast-forward to today. How could you become a wounded healer, offering a broken-but-healing part of yourself on behalf of others in need?
BRIDGE CANVAS LAYERS EXPERIENCE This Layers experience will anticipate your next Canvas setting: A Life Mosaic. The dictionary definition of the word “mosaic” will usually refer to something made of diverse elements. Many times this diversity will be composed of color, texture, and pattern. Looking at only a part of any mosaic reveals no complete thought or impression. But the entire mosaic taken at once reveals a complete rendering of the intended subject. During your next setting you’ll be examining doubt and its effect on your heart. Between the tiles and colors and throughout the pattern of the mosaic of our hearts lie our doubts. To acknowledge doubt is not akin to disbelief; rather, such acknowledgment only points to our inability to see the entire picture—the entire picture of reality as God sees it: past, present, and future. In mosaic-like fashion, 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us that initially we will only be able to to see dimly. Isaiah 55:8 affirms this inability with God revealing to us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” Over time, however, and through a deepening relationship with God through Jesus, our ability to the see the entire “mosaic” will become greater and greater. In the meantime our hearts must wrestle with an incomplete understanding, the lies of the enemy, and our own stories not so much as they really are, but as we perceive them. In bridging Letting Go and A Life Mosaic and looking forward to the next Canvas meeting: 1. Take the opportuntiy to invite a friend, group member, or family member to morning coffee, brunch, lunch, or an evening or weekend outing for a spiritual conversation. Be sure to prayerfully invite the Holy Spirit. 2. Talk about the doubts of your life. Does the future concern you? What recurring worries are present in your life? Fears? Do you find yourself wondering how God will prevent, intervene, or redeem a particular circumstance or situation? 3. How do you think these have affected your heart? What questions do they prompt? 4. Open the conversation to discuss the ways your heart is an infinite and intricate mosaic. 34 /96 /96