Those hot, salty tears came streaming down my cheeks and I knew my heart was being torn open in a way I had never experienced before. I was saying goodbye to someone I had only known for 3 months, and yet I was crying more over her leaving than almost anyone else I have ever said goodbye to. This time was different.
This was a mom I had slowly gotten to know through late night conversations, coffee chats and cheese quesadillas. One day we started talking about God, and after realizing she was at a turning point in her faith, I offered to pray with her in our chapel whenever she needed it. She came to me one day with tears in her eyes and bashfully asked if I would pray with her in a whispered voice. We went into the chapel, and we talked about what she needed prayers for. I prayed over her, and then she added in her own prayer. In that moment, the Lord allowed me to see her.
She showed me her wounds, and my heart began to feel a glimpse of the pain she was going through. She allowed me to enter into her brokenness. When I looked at her, I didn’t see a former alcoholic who lost custody of her children. Instead, I saw a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father, a woman with a fragile heart and a deep desire to love and be loved. For the first time in my life, I began to comprehend the mercy of God.
This year at Maggie’s Place has beautifully broken my heart. When you choose to fiercely love complete strangers, God allows you to see them the way He does, to love them the way He does, and to let your heart break for them in the same way His heart breaks for each of His precious children. When you decide to let yourself love souls without reservation, you submit yourself to heartbreak. I have slowly come to realize through this experience. Heartbreak is not merely the loss of love in someone’s life, but rather the result of allowing your heart to be pierced for another. It is the pain that comes from exposing your heart in a vulnerable and unreserved way.
This kind of heartbreak is best reflected for us in the crucified body of Christ, whose heart was poured out for us like water in the most vulnerable way possible. We see in Christ crucified, a pierced heart that bleeds with compassion, love and mercy. It is not a heart that condemns, but a heart that is “moved with pity” because He sees us.
The beauty of a broken heart is revealed through this compassion. It is a painful love but allows us to understand God’s love for us in a deeper way. In the same way that our heart can bleed for someone else, how much greater does God’s heart bleed for us?
When we pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet together as a team at 3pm, the ending prayer helps me to connect my love for the moms with the tender heart of God. Our Lord’s merciful heart desires to be with us in our pain, just as we desire to enter into the wounds of those we love.
“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.”
The pain that comes with this ministry is very difficult, but has been one of my life’s greatest gifts. My heart continues to be torn open, but from the same place there is an opening for a deeper love and a purified joy. It is the peace that comes from surrendering your heart to the one who created it.
Jesus, we trust in you!
By Jana Zuniga, a MissionCorps