Dear Tender Heart,
You and I are cut from the same cloth, so I want to whisper you some words of encouragement. I don’t want to assume to know everything about you or your story, but I hope these words can give you comfort. I picture that we are sitting across from one another at my favorite coffee shop, or sitting side by side on a breezy summer day, rocking in wooden chairs on a big front porch. Or maybe this can be a folded letter on delicate stationary that you can tuck away and read again when you need reminders from a friend who gets you.
Sometimes I know you wish that the heart you wear on your sleeve could be covered up. I know its a heavy load to bear at times- feeling everything with such intensity and depth. I know that when you see the aching and struggles of the people in your life, you feel their pain too. I know that you often sit in longing, in sorrow, in the overwhelm of how to care for the hurt you see around you.
There may be people in your past or your present who made you feel abnormal for this tender heart of yours that feels so deeply. That you are too much or that you are too different. But I don’t want you to lessen yourself or try to cover it up or become like “everyone else.”
You know why, sweet friend? You remind me of Jesus.
He saw the HEARTS of the hurting and met them with compassion. When the stories and struggles of others were brought to Him, He felt every bit of it–He wept for us. Those tears were not a show of emotion just for God to display that Jesus was made of DNA and blood cells and the stuff of personhood. Those were the outward expression of a Creator, a Redeemer, a Mighty God who walked and dwelt among us and loved us so deeply. He touched our wounds and bore our burdens and WEPT for this hurting world. He ached to fix and heal and restore those deep hurts. I read the first 12 chapters of John this week and saw the person of Jesus in a new light. John paints the picture so clearly of a loving, kind, empathetic man whose whole ministry was filled with examples of compassion. As I read about Jesus’ healing of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years, His conversation with the woman at the well, how He fed the hungry, showed forgiveness, stood up for those with shame, raised His dear friend from the dead, and wept with Mary and Martha, all I could see was that He was MOVED by the stories of others. He met us in our hunger, our doubt, our illness, our shame, our fear, even our death, with His whole heart and sweet TENDERNESS.
I know this passage is a little long, but can we read it together? It moved me to see how much Jesus loved and cared for His friend, so I want to share it with you:
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” He said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” [John 11:33-44]
He ultimately bore all of these burdens on the cross in His death, taking on every sin and pain so we wouldn’t have to bear the weight of it. He, in His mercy and with His own tender heart, DIED that we might have freedom and hope once again in this fallen world. We can bring every heaviness to Him and ask Him to sit with us. In the quiet or in our crying out, my friend, He is right there with you in this. He doesn’t need to you to change a thing before you sit side by side. He loves you and your tender heart just as you are. After all,
So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. [Genesis 1:27]
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. [Psalm 139:13-14]
Friend, your deep compassion, your empathy, your sensitivities, your desire to help others find healing? Those are GIFTS. When it is too much to bear, it is okay to weep. But also, I hope you can see that it is good and relieving to bring those burdens to Jesus.
He can show you how to care for the hurting by pointing them to His hope and healing. He can also bring a sweet balm to you. Rest in the truth that you are never too much for Him. You are His beloved, and He cares for your sweet, sweet heart.
A fellow tender hearted sister