I have a huge heart. Ninety percent of the time, this is hugely inconvenient.
It’s inconvenient to cry in a movie that no one else seems to find quite as tear-worthy. It’s inconvenient to cry when you imagine the gruesome death of the mouse that’s been living in your home when your housemates think you’re crazy for caring so much about the sufferings of a rodent. It’s inconvenient to feel so much for people you hardly know—to hurt with them and for them, and to embrace their joys as if they’re your own, even when your own struggles are looming near.
For years, I’ve seen my huge heart as a problem: a weakness that needed to be strengthened or a terrible thing that would only get me hurt. In either light, my heart was something I had to protect myself against. I doubted myself when I seemed to be the only person who cared. Questions plagued me: “What’s wrong with me?” “Why do I care?” And slowly but surely, almost imperceptibly, I built tall, thick walls around my heart.
And then one day, quite suddenly, Jesus tore them all down.
Actually, he started chiseling away at them a couple years ago, but this summer he took a sledgehammer to them. Looking back, I can see the ways Christ fought long and hard to restore me to the fullness of my heart. He started by healing new wounds. When I was ready, he moved onto to old wounds, chipping away the hardened parts of my heart and breathing new life into them. Then he brought me gifts and special graces—this past summer I was able to return to Camp Tepeyac, a place that is very dear to me, where I feel God’s presence in a unique way. I got to spend six weeks with my best friend (she lives and works at Tepeyac year-round). I was in charge of Tepeyac’s Art Barn, where I was able to create and beautify, something that brings me great joy.
I couldn’t tell you when it happened, or the exact moment when I knew I was fully alive again, but one day this summer I realized something important: All those things I had believed about my heart were lies. God didn’t give me the gift of compassion as a sign of weakness. This big heart is the way that He chose to reveal himself, through me, to a world that is in need of a little more compassion.
God has steadily been at work in my life, not simply to show off his faithfulness, but to call me fully into the woman he created me to be, and this includes my heart. God is calling me to occupy this heart—to reside in it, to live fully in it—because he made it carefully, intentionally, and for a purpose. If I refuse his call, I am not only consenting to live a shell of a life, but I would also deny God’s love to others, the love they deeply thirst for. Christ was unafraid to occupy his heart, even when it led him to the weakness of the cross. Christ was unafraid to occupy his heart so that I could occupy my heart.