Rehabbing a Broken Heart: 4 steps from broken to mended.

“That’s going to leave a mark!” – Tommy Boy

Yep, I just quoted Tommy Boy – in fact, I could probably quote almost the entire movie! It was a favorite for my brother Zach and me in high school. Such insight gained from that movie! Wink!

It’s true though – there are things in life we go through that leave a mark.

If you have ever experienced a major physical injury, you know that rehabilitation is a PROCESS. There is a process that requires both mental and physical will or desire to improve and to heal.

Rehabilitation is time consuming. It’s painful. It requires a knowledgeable physical therapist. And it takes determination. Successful rehabilitation depends upon the mental and physical fortitude to push through the pain.

It’s the discomfort of the pain from the injury – the nagging dull or sharp surges when moving. It’s the frustration of the impaired daily coming and going. It’s reckoning with the reality of the “new normal” of living with the injury. What used to be done with ease, and without thought, now a production and done with much thought.

Pain is not convenient. Pain is not comfortable. Pain cannot be ignored – it must be pushed through.

The pain of rehabilitation is often more taxing than the injury itself.

But rehabbing is a short-term elevation of pain for long term healing.Short term pain: Long-term healing

Did you know a broken heart requires rehabilitation too?

The truth is that the heart, that is the seat of emotions and soul, also needs to be rehabbed when injured- just as our physical bodies.

But so often, the pain of a broken heart is stuffed, numbed or ignored because in the moment, it seems easier than walking through the increased pain of the mending process.

C.S. Lewis said, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say, “My tooth is aching” than to say, “My heart is broken.”

This idea is new to me. If I’m honest I didn’t realize I had been stuffing, ignoring and avoiding the rehabbing process and therefore ignoring the healing process.

But through a recent transparent and a hard conversation with my husband I came to grips with the reality of my stifled heart in desperate need of rehab.

I realized – thanks be to God – that I had been ignoring my injured heart because I didn’t know if I could handle any more pain. I subconsciously didn’t want to walk through the pain of healing.

When the heart is injured, much like a physical injury, our human nature is of course to push pain away, or numb the pain by any means necessary. My way of numbing is busyness. If my mind and body are occupied, I can mask the feelings.

But last week, I believe that God was trying to get my attention. I was zapped of energy. I even took a nap. I NEVER take naps. I wasn’t sick – I was just limp, lethargic, indifferent to what was happening around me. Again, not me! This was not at all normal for me.

I remember saying, “I just can’t move today.” So, I didn’t. I laid in bed.

As I laid there the thoughts, worries, fears I had been ignoring flooded my mind like waves. And with each crash of a thought a wave of tears poured from my eyes.

My whole body hurt. It wasn’t the hurt of physical pain – it was the hurt of emotional pain that I had not allowed myself to deal with. And now it was dealing with me instead.

Later that night Marshall and I were talking over the occurrences of the day – and my tendency to just want to breeze through the hurt – and be strong for everyone around me.

That’s when he said something I really needed to hear. He said, “You need to treat your heart like it’s injured – because it is. You need to allow yourself the time and space to rehab your broken heart.”

He was right. I knew the process of rehabbing an injury. I just wasn’t sure I could handle the pain, the time, the coaching or if I had the mental stamina to walk it out.

That night as I was falling to sleep, I confessed before God that I didn’t want to stuff the hurt anymore. I didn’t want to keep my worries away from him – I wanted to acknowledge them and give them to him.

“Help me rehab my broken heart Lord.”

The next morning as I was spending time with God, he brought 4 helpful steps to keep in mind to rehab my broken heart.

  1. Feel it, don’t run away from it and then give it to God.
    • “I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.” (Psalm 69:29 NLT)
  1. Put in the time to needed to heal.
    • He invigorates the exhausted,
      he gives strength to the powerless.
      Young men may grow tired and weary,
      even the fittest may stumble and fall;
      but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength,
      they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
      when they are running, they won’t grow weary,
      when they are walking, they won’t get tired. (Isaiah 40:29-31 CJB)
  2. I had to make up my mind that I wanted to get well, I wanted my heart to be mended.
    • Though all your wanderings wearied you, you never said, ‘I give up.’ Your strength was renewed so that you did not faint (Isaiah 57:10 TPT)
  3. I had to trust the mentors God has put in my life to help me navigate this season of pain.
    • “I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Philippians 4:13-14 NIV)

Feel the Pain

I knew the cost of saying yes to healing. I knew that facing my broken heart meant allowing myself to FEEL the pain of what I had been ignoring. Just like a physical injury – short-term elevation of pain for long-term healing.

Facing my broken heart meant I would have to admit to myself some worries and fears I had – but had not addressed.

Facing my broken heart meant that I had to admit I was afraid to lose my mom. I was afraid of what the continued chemo treatments are doing to her. I was afraid of the toll it was taking on her and my dad.

I had to admit that my heart ached for lack of having Zach, my brother, to walk this out with me. It meant that I had to admit my heart was and is still broken over mom’s cancer diagnosis.

When I admitted those feelings and thoughts – gosh my heart hurt. And I thought, “that’s going to leave a mark!”

Just like a scar on my skin, these feelings may leave a mark – but they are being healed with the healing balm of God as I come before him – scars, open wounds and all.

The reality I was facing – my own worries and fears about my mom’s sickness – also lead me to an understanding that just because I feel sad, worried, upset because of what we are walking through didn’t mean my faith in God to work miracles was any less.

Admitting these feeling, hurts and worries expressed that the suffering of this life we are told we will face is REAL, and HURTS.

In fact, the ability to face the brokenness of my heart meant that I was open to allowing God to do a miracle in my heart – a complete and total rehab.

I am far from arriving through my hearts, rehabilitation process. But I am on the road to recovery. The journey, the daily choosing to enter rehab, to feel the hard emotions and to press through them. To let the fears, arise and hand them over to God.

Some miracles God performs are instantaneous. Some miracles happen over months and even years. Either way, they are still miracles. And either way I know He has very good reasons for choosing the instant or the long-haul miracle.

I know God is rehabbing my broken heart. I know God is bringing healing to my hurt. I know God is restoring me. He is building me up so that my mended heart is stronger than before and able to be used for His purposes.

Of course, rehab is not an easy process. Rehabbing is intentional effort. It’s a short-term elevated painful path but the long-term healing is worth every ounce of momentary pain.

As Job proclaimed to his friend Eliphaz, “At least I can take comfort in this: Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10)

When in doubt, lean into God. Lean on His word. Lean on His truth. Lean on Him and let him mend your broken heart and heal your pain.

For more resources on growing in faith, hope and the love of Christ check out my website: Stephanie Winslow


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