I’ve always wondered at the term “broken heart and contrite spirit” in relation to coming unto Christ. I could never wrap my head around the idea that I could find Heavenly joy by having my heart broken and my soul devastated. The Hollywood picture of a broken heart was not compatible with what I read in the scriptures.I’ve also been thinking a lot about emotional and spiritual healing. But it wasn’t until General Conference and listened to Neill F. Marriott that I really started to understand that seeking healing through the Atonement and having a broken heart are one and the same.
In the scriptures, Nephi asks his brothers, “why is it that ye can be so hard in your hearts?” His brothers had seen angels and had heard the voice of the Lord. But, as Nephi says, they were “past feeling, that [they] could not feel his words.”
I’d like to think that I have a soft and pliable heart, willing and open to the promptings of the spirit and the direction of the Savior. Unfortunately, if the silence from above in the last two weeks is any indication, my heart is just as hard as theirs were. I have been past feeling.
In Sister Marriott’s talk, she said:
I have found…it instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?” When we are yielded and still, our minds can be directed to something more we may need to change–something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help.
Like many of you, I went to General Conference with a laundry list of questions in my heart. When the dust had settled after all six sessions, I sat back and realized that only one of my many questions was answered the way I wanted it to be. Every other question was met with an answer in which I will have to say, “not my will, but thine” and it’s scary. It’s scary taking that leap and having the faith that He will catch me when I start to fall.
Sister Marriot again says it well when she says:
I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way, eventually realizing that my way is oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of Jesus Christ…Can we love Jesus Christ and His way more than we love ourselves and our own agenda?
I recently read a CES talk by Elder Bednar when he told the story of a young couple who had just received the news that the husband had bone cancer. When they requested a blessing he asked, “do you have the faith not to be healed?”
Can you imagine? Can you imagine being asked if you have the faith to die, or to watch the love of your life go through that process? How devastating that must have been for them to hear. And yet…
Elder Bednar then said:
My heart swelled with appreciation and admiration as I witnessed this young couple confront the most demanding of all spiritual struggles–the submissive surrender of their wills to God’s will. My faith was strengthened as I witnessed this couple allowing their strong and understandable desires for healing to be “swallowed up in the will of the Father”.
Elder Neal A Maxwell said in his book Time to Choose, “If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do.”
I don’t know about you, but the most difficult thing for me to do includes a heart that is broken many times over. But I guess that’s the point isn’t it? If I am going to be ultimately healed from mortality and glorified through the Atonement, I “must first allow [my] heart to break before the Lord.”
Allowing our hearts to break isn’t easy. There is something very painful about admitting your own nothingness and turning to the Lord instead of inward or to another human. There is a vulnerability that is unlike anything else I have ever felt. But it’s in those completely broken moments that I can feel the healing begin.
Have you ever seen a mosaic? It’s art that is made from broken glass, stone, shells, and other materials. Just think about that for a minute: a beautiful work of art that can only be created by breaking something else. A once mundane and ordinary piece of glass can be broken, reworked by a master, and changed in to an extraordinary masterpiece. And if you look up mosaics online, you’ll notice that the smaller and more broken the pieces are, the more magnificent the end result.
When we offer our hearts to the Lord to break, it’s not because He wants us to be sorrowful or constantly full of grief. He doesn’t want us to have to feel pain at all, but He knows it’s a necessary step to becoming more like our Father and Mother. If our hearts were soft and pliable then we might be able to get through life without feeling that sense of anguish that accompanies repentance and a change of heart.
The truth is we all have hard hearts. That’s why they must be broken. The pride that goes hand in hand with mortality is the thing that, above all else, separates us from God and leads us into sin.
One of my favorite hymns is Where Can I Turn for Peace.
Where can I turn for peace?Where is my solaceWhen other sources cease to make me whole?When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,I draw myself apart,Searching my soul?Where, when my aching grows,Where, when I languish,Where, in my need to know, where can I run?Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?Who, who can understand?He, only One.He answers privately,Reaches my reachingIn my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.Constant he is and kind,Love without end.