Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Heart-Shattered Lives and Post-Traumatic Growth

Would you ever use the word "shattered heart" to describe a time in your life where something so horrible occurred that you were not sure you were going to make it through?   Maybe it was the tragic death of someone close to you, or betrayal in a relationship that was so piercing you felt you might die. It could be the incredible disappointment of raising a child who you have loved for years who is now living a desperate, estranged life.   Or maybe the realization you had when you realized that an addiction that you were sure was just a bad habit you could break any time had taken over your life.   Those are all heart-shattering moments.

A term has surfaced in research that has recently caught my attention.  It is called "post-traumatic growth."

Here is how it was defined by a couple researchers (Calhoun and Tedeshi).
Post-traumatic growth is positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning. These circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual, and pose significant challenges to their way of understanding the world and their place in it.  Post-traumatic growth is not about returning to the same life as it was previously experienced before a period of traumatic suffering, but rather it is about undergoing significant 'life-changing' psychological shifts in thinking and relating to the world, that contribute to a personal process of change, that is deeply meaningful.
As I look back on my life I realize that I have had some of this occur.   But for those of us who are Christians, there is another layer to all of this.   When we hit bottom we learn who God is and we learn who we are in relation to Him.  We learn to say, just as Job did,  "You are God and I am not... I put my hand over my mouth."

Psalm  51 in the Message says this:
I learned God-worship    when my pride was shattered.Heart-shattered lives ready for love    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Having our hearts shattered eventually leads to psychological growth.  But more importantly, when our pride is shattered because we result in learning to really worship God.    Like Job, we realize that His thoughts are higher than ours and that "the Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away."

And I love the way the verse ends.  Heart-shattered lives are ready for love.   Broken, open, waiting, exposed, raw.... those are the lives which don't for a moment escape God's notice.  He sees us.  He knows how we feel.  He reaches down to provide healing and hope.

If you are in a period of time where you feel like your heart it shattered -- know that this is the beginning of a journey.  A journey towards growth... but also toward worship, towards healing, towards wholeness, towards hope.

It's a guarantee.

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