Marriage: The Heart of the Matter

by Julie Alexander

heart-cath

A broken heart can be repaired. My heart has been broken, both physically and emotionally – and it was God Who was the Divine Healer of both situations.

The pain was excruciating as I lay in the hospital bed with the words reverberating in my mind, “Mr. Alexander, your wife, is having a heart attack.” The heaviness in my chest, the throbbing in my jaw as if something was pulling my teeth out, and the pain shooting down my arm were the symptoms that accompanied my stay in the hospital. I remember vividly the tubes coming out of my body and the steady beeping of the heart monitor. It is as if God allowed me to experience something so profound so I would never forget the pain.

As difficult as that experience was, I believe the message that came from it rings louder than the incident itself. In truth, that hurt pales in comparison to the way my heart bleeds over the state of marriage today. Everywhere we look, marriage is being undervalued, and in some cases, undefined. Divorce is seen as the norm and is even expected when difficult situations arise between husbands and wives.

Through my prayer, I’ve heard God speak to my heart: “My heart breaks for what is happening with marriage today!” It’s almost as though my physical pain I experienced was a little window into the deeper pain of God.

God cares about marriage, because with a clear vision of marriage we can learn so much about who God is and what His plan is for us. The Holy Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – are an exchange of Love. This is analogous to, and reflected profoundly, in the self-giving love of a husband and wife who give entirely to each other, so much so that in many cases, as the adage goes, nine months later they give that love a name.

God desires us to not simply imitate His total gift of self but actually to image this to the world. And who reveals His presence most profoundly than a husband and wife on fire for each other?

It is at the altar where this unconditional love is expressed, and vows are exchanged. This is designed to be a statement of our commitment that our love and union is forever, just as the unity of the Trinity is eternal.

We may wonder why we experience a breakdown in our relationships. What goes wrong? Our heart is made for good and yet because of sin, our hearts break. Our heart is made for God and when we turn away from Him – when we miss the mark (a.k.a. sin) – we experience a rupture, a rupture in our relationship with ourselves, with each other, and ultimately with Him.

Our hearts are where the desires are placed, and it is the beating of the heart that is the sound of life itself. It is the heart that stops when life is no more. Everything is at the center – at the core – of what is contained in the heart. Our restless hearts wander throughout our lifetime in search for purpose, for meaning, for acceptance, for security, and especially love.

We all have emotions that we carry in our hearts – emotions of acceptance, appreciation, respect, security, and the like. When our hearts are filled with love, peace, and joy, then our emotions are positive. When we are filled with positive emotions, then we are healthier as opposed to when we are filled with negative emotions.

Sometimes our hearts become filled with the wrong things. It is like the proverbial suitcase we all carry. It begins with our childhood and our family of origin. Our bags (a.k.a. our hearts) have a tendency to become filled with negative emotions and experiences. When our hearts are filled with this negativity, our hearts become hardened. A person living from this place often experiences depression, loss of appetite, anger, resentment, and the inability to love or to be loved.[1]

Those who have ever experienced a heart attack can tell you there is no pain like it. Those who have had their heart broken often have the same words, but the meaning is quite different. Just like the heart is at the center of our body, the heart is at the core of marriage. If we do not receive healing from negativity and continue live from that hurt, this “heart attack” will decimate the emotional union we are supposed to be creating with our spouse.

The good news is the pain of a broken heart can be mended, and the brokenness can be turned into a stronger capacity for love. St. Augustine once wrote, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you O Lord.” We could also translate that into, “Our marriage is restless until it rests in you O Lord.”

What are we feeding the heart of our marriage? When we put God at the core of our marriage, we are capable of doing what humanly might seem impossible. He can give us the grace – His power and love – to have the ability to communicate, love, care, and forgive.

This is important because we cannot give what we do not have. God is love and without love, we are empty. We are nothing. When our heart is filled with hurt and pain and resentment, it breaks.

God is the divine physician and is waiting to heal your heart. Turn to Him, who can not only repair your heart but give you a new one. “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). For this Valentine’s Day, ask God to give you a new heart, one that is filled with Him so much that this Love overflows into the heart of your spouse

This is the greatest gift you can give: a heart filled with love. No greater gift is there than to lay your life down and open your heart so you can share what has been given unto you!

Cleanse me, Lord, make me a new creation and fill my heart with your presence. I ask you to rid me of any negativity that I have stored up. I humbly ask that you repair the brokenness that only you can mend. Fill me with your grace and pour out your mercy on me O Lord. Amen.

[1] There are multiple studies that show how our health is directly linked to the emotional “baggage” we carry.

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One thought on “Marriage: The Heart of the Matter

  1. After reading this article, this is what came to my heart.You know the saying the “GRASS IS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE”? Well its true, God made all the grass and therefore we must bloom where we are planted. In the garden/vocation of marriage, there are weeds that mingle in our lives; sometimes without us noticing them. There are thorns that bring pain and sorrow to our marriages. Then there is the light and rain that nourish our marriages. We fail to remember that the LIGHT & RAIN is our Lord and his promises! Bless you both for shinning the Lord’s light and rain through your ministry.