In terms of just what is wrong with this world, I think the only real answer is that we have a heart problem. And I think we always have.
We've never really been good at training our children to take care of their hearts. We've always sort of left them to figure it out for themselves, and this much is true regardless of what the current teaching of the time is. In the days when we weren't afraid to admit that life sometimes isn't fair and that other persons will sometimes hurt you, we taught our children how to repair or at least pursue relationship, and we told them that forgiveness and love would heal their heart. But we all sort of know that's not really true. Forgiveness doesn't just heal a heart; neither does choosing to love someone else. The pain is still there, and even though we all know it, we still don't know what to do with it.
In modern times, when we tell our children to guard their hearts, when we help them build walls between their hearts and the world, when we teach them that the best way to handle their hearts is with aggressive protective care and, at the same time, tender gloves, we still haven't really told them how to deal with the real pain of having a heart in a fallen world. We all sort of understand this, too. No matter how protective you try to be of your heart, something always breaks through and stabs you right at the very core. Life still hurts. It still sucks. There are still bad things happening that we have to deal with. And though we tend to applaud the idea of heartlessness (living heart-free), that's not really working for anybody. We can't just separate ourselves from our hearts.
Nor should we even want to.
I wish I had better answers for this, something more worthwhile to say, but the truth is that I find myself in the same boat as the rest of humanity: I don't really know what to do with my heart. Sometimes, I feel like I'm loving this world well, but the insecurities I have about love are never far away. Do I really love? Do I even know how to love? This feeling that I feel....is it love or something less? Sometimes, I wonder if love is even what I think it is, or if I'll ever be capable of loving.
Sometimes, I experience tremendous, deep joy. But is it joy? Pure joy? There's something haunting about the depraved heart. There's something that always feels a little selfish, or a little self-satisfied, about it. Is this joy or is it mere happiness? And if it is happiness, what stands between self and joy but my own twisted heart?
I've often said, and tend to make no secret, that sometimes, I think I was built to be brokenhearted. This doesn't bother me so much anymore, but it used to just eat at me. What is brokenheartedness? What is the purpose of it? What is it about this world that grieves me, and what am I supposed to do about it?
It's from here that I began to form my response to all this heart stuff, that I began to understand, just a little bit, what it is we're supposed to do with these hearts of ours. But I admit that the answer isn't always what we might hope it would be.
We have to keep taking our hearts to God.
It sounds so simple, and yet, it's not, and I think that's what so many find so discouraging about it. Even Christians. Because when you take your heart to God, He doesn't simply soothe it. No, I find that when I honestly take my heart before God, He draws me deeper into it. He draws me deeper into the raw places in it - the grief, the ache, the brokenness, the depravity, the worry, the fear, the trouble. When I take my heart to God, I beg Him - please, God. I don't know what to do with...this. And His answer is usually, "Let me show you what this is."
It doesn't always help, at least not in the way that I hope it will. But it does, strangely, make the whole thing feel more holy. From the depth of my heart, I am drawn into the center of His, and there's something absolutely incredible about that.
And cooler still, this works for the good stuff, too. It works when I take my heart of love and joy and peace and celebration to Him. When I say, "Lord, I...don't know what to make of this good, good thing." Then He says, first, let me show you how good this is. And even my love, joy, peace, celebration go all the deeper.
I don't think most of us know what to do with our hearts. I don't think we ever really have. Nobody ever taught us, likely because they didn't know themselves. But I think it's past time that we start trying to figure it out.
For me, that means bringing my heart to God a thousand times a day. Not to ask Him to mend it necessarily, but in full confession and surrender, declaring, "God, I don't know what to do with this. Teach me what to do with this." And He does.
By drawing me so far into my raw, broken, depraved heart that I can't help but find His in the center of it all.