January 16, 2014

Hearts are Not Jigsaw Puzzels (or Why I Think This is One of the Worst Analogies)

Like nails to a chalkboard, there are just some phrases that get thrown around whenever Christians start talking dating that... ugh... are so... poor. Throw them into conversation, and I suddenly turn into Mr. Knightly spouting off about how "badly done" it went. (I'm an Austen fanatic. I can't help that that's where my mind goes.) One of these phrases goes along the lines of this: 
"With every relationship you're in, a piece of your heart is taken away that you cannot get back."
Did you cringe? 'Cause I did. Like maybe five times. Especially those last four words: "...you cannot get back."

I'd like to gently jog our memories here of a belief that remains a staple to our faith: Redemption. The gaining back of that which was lost. 

I don't like these phrases such as the above one because it turns hearts into jigsaw puzzles. An odd sort of analogy for the heart, one which God never used in scripture (I believe He likened it more to a wellspring). It then goes on to make the assumption that the heart therefore only has so many pieces to give away, and once you're out, you're out. Game over. Go home, grow old, take up knitting, and get a cat girl, because there will be nothing left for a future spouse.

Someone please tell me where the Gospel, Christ's redeeming love is promoted here? Because I just don't find it in this dumb ideology. And if the Gospel isn't promoted or presented in these conversations, then I don't know how we can put a stamp of approval on it, call it wisdom for young women, and pass it along.  

Please don't hear me say that I am somehow dismissing the importance of having emotional guard rails, practicing wisdom or healthy boundaries in our relationships, because we should. (Um... hello, we need to guard our hearts as it says in Proverbs 4.) But any relationship at any level always requires risks of some kind. And sometimes our relationships may lead us to disappointment and pain. That doesn't mean there was a lack of wisdom and now you're somehow emotionally "impure" or damaged forever.

So if we were sitting in a coffee shop having this conversation here's what I'd want to say...

Emotional attachment in a previous relationship doesn't mean you'll be giving your husband a heart of lesser value. Your heart is not a jigsaw puzzle, with which you hand out pieces of to others. No. It's a  wellspring of life... "a place where water wells up from a source" and continuously flows out. As Christ's beloved daughters (and sons), no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in or misguided steps we take, we can always tap into the source of His love. And it's His love that then fills us up, and enables us to in turn love others. So long as we're drawing upon His love, our love for others will be replenished over and over and over again. Real love never runs out, because it's sustained by God who's abounding in it, and who always will be.

God redeems everything. Even the aches and pains you've procured, be it the result of unwise choices, or circumstances out of your control in those relationships. Tap into the source, Christ our Redeemer, whose loves flows through us, and you'll find that what you thought you couldn't get back, you indeed can, as well as have more to give. Christ's love multiplies and redeems everything. Your heart is not forever lost, in Christ, it's forever found.


  1. this is so awesome on so many levels. we aren't ruined forever just because we make a mistake, we are human and as such, we are flawed. We are bound to misstep every now and then, and there is beauty in the redemption that should be promoted and remembered.

  2. Natalie, Natalie, Natalie...Girl. You are an amazing woman, your wisdom is flourishing and it's an absolute privelege to read your posts. I am so looking forward to meeting you someday over a cup of coffee - in this life or the next, who knows!

    1. I look forward to it someday soon too! Don't worry, I'll eventually get across the pond before I die (I hope). ;D

  3. Wow, this is awesome. It's SO true! I've heard that statement many times. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Ugh, yes. I bought into this analogy in the youth group days of True Love Waits, but I'm so glad His grace proved it wrong. I dated very intentionally, so it was very difficult to do it without investing so much of your heart in it. For awhile, this analogy heaped unbearable guilt on me. But once I was married, the Lord began to show me that He used those relationships in eternal ways. Yes, I would've wished a free ride out of those situations, but they have made me a better wife--I appreciate and treasure things about the Gospel in my husband and my marriage that were lost on me before those difficult relationships.
    Thank you for voicing this, and doing It so well: with the passion it deserves, doused in the good news of our redemptive Savior. Amen!

    1. Yeah... those youth days... I had some whacked out theology during those few years. My heart had the right motives initially, but let's just say experience and wisdom does come with age.

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  6. Wow! This is SO well written, Nat!!! I LOVE it. Such an important reminder. I've heard [and sadly, believed] this ideology and never realized how ridiculous and unlike the gospel it really is! There is no grace and redemption in a statement like that; only guilt and condemnation. Thank you for writing this, dear friend!!


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