Every once in a while you encounter a song that leaves a lasting impression on you. Some of those songs are beautiful tunes of romance between a man and a woman, others are majestic songs of worship that seem to draw you nearer to the presence of God, and some… well, some are just downright odd and unusual. One song that falls in the third category is a tune that I learned in my second freshman year of college. Since I can’t sing it for you, here’s the Youtube video featuring John Denver. You can fast forward to the 1:12 mark to get to the song itself.

The chorus is, for me, what is most memorable:

You done stomped on my heart and mashed that sucker flat. 
You just sort of stomped on my aorta.
You started going out with guys. I felt us drift apart.
And every step you took, it was a stomp upon my heart.

Yes, I know. It’s a real tear jerker. Once you pull yourself together, you can continue reading…

The truth is, most of us at some point in life have felt as if our hearts were ripped out of our chests and stomped on unmercifully. We mostly relate these feelings to breakups from a romantic relationship, but mashed aortas can happen for a variety of other reasons – dismissal from a job, failure to get an expected promotion, harsh criticism from someone we love and respect, lack of compassion and understanding in a time where we desperately need it, or those times when people just let you down big time. We’ve all been there, and if we had known the song, we’d probably have sung it!

What do you do when you stare at your mangled but still-beating heart lying at your feet? You might want to remember these three truths:

Remember that life isn’t fair, no matter how much we wish it were. We live in a fallen world full of broken and hurting people. Hurting people hurt people. Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes it isn’t. Either way, it still hurts. And, sadly, each of us has done our fair share of heart-stomping, too.

Remember that God is with you even when it doesn’t feel like it. One of the greatest (and most overlooked and undervalued) blessings of being a Christian is that God is with us always. He never leaves us and never forsakes us. We have an infinite source of comfort and peace during our most difficult and heartbreaking circumstances. Psalm 56:8 (NLT) reminds us, You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” You may feel alone and abandoned, but, child of God, you are not.

Remember that God often works in your pain to mature you and bring greater blessings into your life. Romans 8:28 (NIV) is a constant source of encouragement for me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It doesn’t say that God will only allow good in your life or that things will always turn out the way you want them to. It says that God has a way of taking ALL things – good, bad, and otherwise – and bringing something that will benefit you in this life and/or the next.

When the men and women in our Celebrate Recovery ministry (men and women who struggle with a wide variety of hurts, habits and hang-ups) stand together in their opening worship time, they recite (and some even pray) Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer. Consider the words to that prayer as you live with a heart that has been, and perhaps still is, stomped and mashed flat:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

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