Everyone has had a broken heart at some point in their life, right? Maybe it was from a first crush who didn’t reciprocate your attraction. Unrequited love. But, was that really heart break? I mean, how bad can it really be at age 12? Well, you ask that 12-year-old. Pretty devastating, I bet. But surely that can’t compare to the heart break that occurs due to a divorce or death of a spouse.
And let me say, I’m well aware that heart break in divorce and heart break in the death of a spouse are two completely different animals. I’m not trying to pretend that they aren’t individually complex and complicated. They are.
But a broken heart is a broken heart. And that’s the common denominator.
So, what happens to us when we our hearts are broken?
Whenever we experience this deep, emotional wound, we can take personal responsibility for it and feel shame, thinking, “I’m bad.” Shame is different from guilt, right? in that shame is personal. It’s not that I did something bad, but that I am bad. It’s necessary to understand the difference between two. The interesting thing about guilt with the death of a spouse (or any loved one, for that matter) is that it usually creeps in somewhere. Maybe it doesn’t stay long - hopefully it doesn’t stay long - but in our humanness, it’s likely to come. If it was a sudden death, we have guilt over not doing or saying something before they died…or guilt because we did do or say something that we come to regret after they die. We may feel guilt after death because we survived, we kept on living, and they didn’t. Survivors guilt is a real thing. But guilt is all about the doing. I did blank. Shame is extremely personal. It’s the “I am”. I am blank. But the lines can get really blurry when we’ve done something and then take that to mean that we are a bad person for doing it. And when we’re feeling like a bad person, feeling shameful, we need to take an honest look at things.
Now, here’s a little bit of a problem that our brains have. We need to explore some very pointed questions so we can get a clear view of why we feel shame, but our brains might resist this effort because these questions can be hard things to deal with. And, if you’ve heard any of my previous podcasts, you’ll know that the brain will do everything it can to avoid pain. So, we must use our will, our determination, we must decide that we’re going to make our brain cooperate. It’s wired to keep us safe by keeping things status quo, but we can exert our will over our mind.
So now that we’ve decided, ask yourself these questions:
- What happened? Think through all the details.
- What does that event or circumstance say about you? About you personally.
- Is that a reasonable interpretation on your part?
- Are you being too hard on yourself? Would you let your best friend feel that way about themselves?
- Is it possible that you didn’t do anything wrong at all? Is it possible that it all went as it should have?
- What does the Word of God say about you?
And when you get to the end of these questions and you still feel a sense of responsibility, a simple confession can remove the power of shame over your life. Confession just means “agreeing with God.” We can confess and own up to the things that we are responsible for. We can also agree that God loves us and forgives us completely. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Refusing to address the “why” behind your shame just makes it stronger and gives it more power in your life. The more you hide it or resist addressing it, the more intensity it has. Bring it into the Light of God’s truth and its power over you will dissipate.
Another thing we tend to do when we get hurt is blame ourselves, saying something like, “It’s my fault.” Understand that you are not defined by your behavior. No one is perfect 100% of the time. Not even your pastor! And the Bible is full of examples of Christ followers who made wrong or immoral choices, yet Jesus still loved them. The good news is, you are defined by Christ, not your behavior. Everyone has thoughts that make them feel ashamed. It’s part of life. So, the question becomes, “When you sin, what will you do about it?”
Think about this: The things that you’ve done, or have happened to you, or that you’re feeling don’t have to affect you forever. They don’t define you. Christ does.
But sometimes we blame others saying, “It’s all their fault.” This is a normal response when our hearts are hurting. We may even vacillate between blaming ourselves and then blaming others, even if it’s our loved one that passed away that we’re blaming. Blame comes in all kinds of colors. Like “he should’ve taken better care of himself.” Or “He’s gone and he’s left me to deal with all this all by myself.” I’m pretty sure some iteration of both of those crossed MY mind at some point. Blaming others is a way to abdicate one’s own responsibility in life. Blaming others also gives our individual power, or our agency, away to someone else. And then THEY get to determine how our lives go. I talked about ‘agency’ and what it means in episode number 37 - Setting Healthy Boundaries: Part 1. If you think you might be blaming someone else for all your problems or even for your heartache, you might want to go back and listen the whole Boundaries series.
A third way we deal with the pain of heartbreak is to promise yourself you’ll never put yourself in a position to experience something like that again. We make promises to protect ourselves. When your heart has been broken by divorce or death of your spouse, you may say, “I can’t take this pain, so I’ll never love anyone again.” But, protecting yourself from ever getting hurt again means you may miss something beautiful and new; those abundant blessings God wants to bring so that you can experience another beautiful life. We do this with other people, too; it’s not just relegated to a spouse. We also do this with friendships when we get our hearts hurt. We may even do it with family members that hurt us. The problem here is that the more isolated you are, the more likely you are to feel shame. Studies show that then you’re regularly interacting with others in a meaningful way, you’re less likely to feel shame. The Bible says to confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed - James 5:16. Is also encourages us to bear one another’s burdens in Galatians 6:2. God intends for Christians to be connected and in community with one another for our good and for our healing.
Putting our hearts out there, risking the possibility of rejection, or pain, or disappointment, is worth it. It’s important. It’s how we’re wired as humans. We’re wired for love. And if you live long enough, at some point you will experience heartbreak. It’s the chance we take with love. And love is worth it.
Shame is another of those unenjoyable parts of being human. It is a product of our sin-nature. But as a Christian, you don’t have to carry the burden of shame any longer – it has been defeated - and He wants you to give your pain to Him. Jesus died so that you wouldn’t have to feel shame. Bring your shame and lay it at the foot of the cross. In Him there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1)! Letting go of your shame will set you free again!
And blaming ourselves or others keeps us from seeing the redemptive grace of God play out in our story. What I mean is that, God can take any story, anything you’ve done or that’s been done to you, and bring healing, new perspective, and new life. When our hearts are hard in the blame game, we are robbed of God’s blessings and all the things He’s working together for our good. The enemy will continue to monopolize on your hurt and keep you down. That’s his tactic in all this: to keep you thinking you’re a victim and to take you down. My encouragement to you today: Don’t let him win!
Friend, if you need to make a promise today, promise that you’ll set your broken heart in God’s careful and loving hands. Promise that you’ll trust Him for whatever is next. Promise Him that you’ll keep your heart open to love - believing that He’s got new blessings to pour out on your life. Let the God of Love love your heart to wholeness.
Friend, if you have recognized that you’re having a struggle with shame, blame, and protective promises and would like some one-on-one help, I’d love to be your coach and mentor. I’ll teach you some simple but seriously effective tools that will help you release the shame, reject the blame, and learn to open yourself to the possibility of new promises.
I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit. Or you can visit my website tricizody.com and send me an email there.
Have a great week, friends! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.
Calendar Link for a free Life Coaching Consult Call: https://calendly.com/triciazodylifecoach/30min
Don’t forget to go to my website www.triciazody.com on the PODCAST page to get your 3 Guided Worksheets for personal development that complement my podcast episodes. They’re free, and I pray you’ll find some healing and freedom there.