The heart, as a symbol, is both powerful and universal. While we use the heart to make sense of many emotions and experiences, it seems most often the heart is used to describe what it means to be utterly broken.
Just the words “a broken heart” can conjure up many images and encapsulates a breadth of emotions ranging from intense longing to devastating loss. There are hearts with tiny chips in it, slowly fracturing. There are hearts that are so shattered it seems they’ve been reduced to dust.
Even the scriptures use the heart to describe pain, fear, or rebellion. Joshua says “our hearts did melt,” Ezekiel describes a “stony heart,” and multiple references tell us hearts can be tried, can fail, and can be made sick.
When the heart feels so broken, it can seem impossible for it to ever be made whole again. However, the gospel helps us understand how we can heal a broken heart.
The Simple Answer
Of course, the simple answer is Jesus Christ. It is only through the Atonement that we can truly be made whole. However, God doesn’t just want to heal our broken hearts; he wants to change them. We are here to learn how to be like him, to love as he would love and do as he would do. It may seem counter-intuitive, but God will often use our broken heart to help us love more deeply and profoundly.
One of the ways this occurs is by not letting our hearts grow hard and using them to the best of our ability instead.
The Hardened Heart
We learn about the dangers of a hardened heart through the scriptures. Multiple admonitions are given throughout the Old Testament to “not harden thine heart” (Deut. 15:7) and Christ mourns in the New Testament when the Pharisees refuse to believe him, “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” (Mark 3:5).
One of the most disheartening examples of hardened hearts, however, is found in the Book of Mormon with the story of Laman and Lemuel. They repeatedly disobeyed the counsel of God and turned against their prophet-brother, Nephi. When they tied Nephi to the mast of the ship, nothing but the power of God threatening their own destruction “could soften their hearts.”
There are much more examples throughout the scriptures of the hardened heart. Through them, we learn that a hardened heart distances us from God, makes us unfeeling, and makes it harder to hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Using a Broken Heart
Though it may be painful, using a broken heart can help heal it. It lets the light in and enables Christ to take the pieces and make something beautiful. We are invited to love, to serve, and to come boldly before the throne of God. How can we use a broken heart? Here are some ideas:
- Pray to better understand your emotions and feelings.
- Express sincere love and gratitude for those you care about.
- Be vulnerable and admit your struggles to trusted friends.
- Do all you can to continue to build healthy relationships.
- Strive to forgive those who have wronged you.
- Meditate and ponder daily.
- Avoid doing things to “numb” yourself.
- Consecrate your heart to God through diligent covenant-keeping.
- Adopt an attitude of “thy will be done” when approaching God.
- Be honest with God in prayer about how you are feeling.
To use our hearts is to keep them, to change them. God has planted the symbolic heart inside of us to help us become more like him. If your heart is broken, do not discard the pieces. Do your best to use what you have left to come unto Christ. That is plenty for him to work with.