I blame it on Cambodia...it was there that it really hit me how small my heart had become. I'm not sure what caused it. Perhaps it was the loss of our son so many years ago. Maybe it was the death of my father and mother. Maybe it was just the thousand little hurts and disappointments that happen to us all in life; but for whatever the reason, I became painfully aware that my heart had shrunk like some old t-shirt that was tossed in the wash with hot water over and over again. It was just...too small! It didn't fit right anymore. It was tight and binding and just down-right uncomfortable!
Then came Cambodia and I stepped outside my little world of me and suddenly I became aware. My heart had shrunk! It hadn't become hard, it had just dwindled down to a place where I was more concerned about my little universe than the great big world around me!
I had become like the "Jim Carey version of The Grinch when he said, "The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there - on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn't allow it. 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me - I can't cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing... I'm booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear? " It was all about me, me, me....and a heart that was just too small.
Then I met the people from Hard Places Ministry and my world was shaken. They loved - sometimes those that seemedcompletely unloveable. Daily they faced horrendous odds that would have caused many hearts to shrink, but instead theirs seemed to grow even more! They walked into the darkness carrying light despite battle after battle. Looking at these young people, that's when I realized just how small my own heart had become. And since then my prayer has become, "Lord, help my heart to grow." I don't want to walk around with a heart that is two sizes too small! I don't want to look at others as 'those people'. I want to see them as You do and I want to love.
It's right about here that I remember another line from the Jim Carey version..."MAX. HELP ME... I'm FEELING."
See, that's the problem with an enlarged heart....it FEELS, and not just the good stuff. It feels the hurts, too. Am I the only one that really doesn't like that part? But Jesus did that for us. He felt our pain. I've heard it said that He actually died of a broken heart while on the cross that day. And He forgave.
There's that other part of having a heart that feels. It has to forgive or it starts to shrink again. I have to admit I struggle with this sometimes. I see someone who has hurt me or those that I love and I don't want them around! I want to yell, "NO! You can't come here! This is MY church!" but I can't do that without having my heart start to shrink away.
This morning, I heard the song by Matthew West, "Forgiveness" and somehow I knew it all tied in with my shrinking heart.
It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve
It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'Forgiveness
There are those who I still have trouble forgiving, so I just avoid them. I'm good at avoiding things I don't want to deal with....and my heart shrinks a little more.
But I'm ready to go through a Grinch transformation. I'm ready to let my heart grow beyond my own little world. I think I'm even ready to get a little uncomfortable in the process and FEEL.
Thank you Hard Places Ministry and Cambodia. Thank you for your "heart"...and for helping mine to grow.
The Voice (VOICE)
2 Enlarge your house. You are going to need a bigger place; don’t underestimate the amount of room that you’ll need. So build, build, build.
Ezekial 36: 26a
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.