Stubbed Toes, Stubbed Hearts

We’ve all been there.  Maybe it’s the middle of the night or the middle of broad daylight.  You’re walking along minding your own business following a path you have taken a thousand times.  You’ve walked in and out of this room and around this furniture at least a dozen times that day already.  But this time you cut the corner a little too close and… BAM! You stub your toe.

Pain instantly starts coursing through your toe, up your leg, and across your body.  You simultaneously suck air through your teeth, howl, and unleash a torrent of choice words.  You wonder why anyone would be so foolish as to put a dresser in that location.  You wonder if the offending dresser has perhaps taken a life of its own and turned against you in reaction to not being dusted lately.

Yep, we’ve all been there.  Think for a moment about what you do right after you stub your toe.  What is your natural physical reaction?  For most people, they will instantly bend down and try to cover the injured piggy with their hand as if they are trying to protect it in case the corner of the dresser decides to strike out in anger again.  You hide the injured toe under the shadow of our palm as if the slightest breeze or sliver of light might do more damage and increase the pain.  You cup the toe protecting it from further harm.

You hide the injury.

You protect the hurt.

Toes aren’t much different from hearts.  We’re traveling along a path that is well known.  We’re content in a job we’ve had for years.  We’re satisfied in a relationship we’ve been in for decades.  We’re living life, minding our own business, and then BAM!

We stub our heart.  A stubbed heart can bring the strongest soul to his knees.  The hit comes out of nowhere.  We wonder how things all of the sudden changed.  The hurt and anguish moves through our body, taking our energy, our sense of safety, our joy, and it leaves us with anxiety, insomnia, and unanswered questions.  A stubbed heart throbs with pain.

Much like that stubbed toe, our natural inclination is to protect our stubbed heart.  We want to hide and cover the heart wound.  We don’t want to let anyone see.  When we have experienced loss or heartbreak of any kind, we naturally react by withdrawing and isolating.  It is too painful to rehash the events.  It takes too much energy to put words to the disappointment.  No one may understand why our feelings have been so hurt and by trying to explain we might end up being more hurt.  We hide our stubbed heart under the shadow of our silence and retreat.

The only way to assess the hurt done to that stubbed toe is by removing the protecting hand and letting light shine on it.  Then you can see the extent of the damage.  Then you can see where the toe was hit.  You can see what needs to be done to fix and heal your injured toe.

The same can be said for our stubbed hearts.  The only way we can begin to heal our broken hearts is by allowing the hurt to come out of hiding.  We move out of our isolation and our silence, and we let light shine on the heart wound.  We talk about what happened.  We let others see the injury and come alongside us to offer support and empathy.  We let light shine on our stubbed hearts because then we can see where and how we were hurt and what we need to do to heal and repair that emotional wound.

When you experience hurt, loss, grief, or disappointment, it is so easy to retreat into yourself and keep all of that inside.  You tell yourself no one will understand or you don’t want to be a burden or some other self-defeating reason for why you should stay silent.  Pain and heartache will happen in life- it is the most unfortunate guarantee in life.  There is no amount of careful stepping that will protect you from loss and hurt.  But coming out of hiding, letting light shine on your loss, and talking about your hurt will diminish that pain.  Your stubbed heart may be throbbing today but removing that covering of silence and isolation will place you on the path to healing.

Has your heart been stubbed lately?  What would it look like to uncover that wound and let light and openness begin to heal it?