Hard hearts and broken hearts

One more concept from People of God that lingers with me: the broken heart. It means a humble and contrite spirit—essentially a heart open to God. A return to the heart (see previous post) does not take place without some experience of brokenness.

LeClerc makes the point that hard hearts are all too common in today’s world: Life with its struggles for priorities, its ambitions, its fears, and its desire to succeed and dominate can harden hearts and allow aggression and resentment to accumulate within … And the worst hardening is not that of one’s feelings. It is rather the steely, cold, and withering harshness of intelligence.” We pride ourselves on self-reliance and close ourselves in a small world. (Taken to an extreme, this would be a form of atheism.)

A broken heart, often experienced in crisis, shatters that world. We are dazzled and wounded by the holiness of God. The cracks in the heart allow the spirit of God and his living, healing waters to flow through. Only then, says LeClerc, when we allow ourselves to be dispossessed of self-sufficiency and the will to power, can we rediscover our true selves in communion with God and the world.

I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NAB)


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