11 Symptoms of a Broken Heart

Somehow in the history of Christian living, religious performance had a way of moving us out of heart connection and into a world of accumulating knowledge. Building intellect has become the main focus, where dissecting information and being able to quote data is a shining accomplishment. 

We check off our devotion time, scour through books and attend conferences that condition us to think we “know” something because we heard about it. We display our seminary training and articulate our impressive theological answers, all without experiencing in our hearts what the knowledge points to. 

It’s sad but true. You can accumulate a mass of knowledge that you never experience. Therefore, you can live your whole life deceiving yourself and others that you possess something you don’t. It’s the difference between listening to someone who knows every fact about the moon and meeting a man who actually stepped foot on the moon. You and I will choose to hear from the second person every time. 

Settling for a Lesser Life

We have settled for a less than authentic heart experience. In the meantime, most believers feel like hypocrites. They tell other people to practice and engage things they have not applied themselves. Ministry time becomes a performance moment to “put on” something that really isn’t a part of our daily existence. Feeling like a fraud, we then crawl into a cave of self-condemnation. 

Our lifestyles become cycles of burnout. We go from one lifeless routine to another, wondering why we have all these addiction issues and troubling thoughts we can’t shake. 

This is the problem that stirred our Savior’s heart; calling the people to understand with their hearts and turn into a new direction. 

Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.
Matthew 13:15

What is the result of someone who receives God’s truth in their hearts? They turn into a life of receiving the healing God has for them. 

Can I challenge you with a question? Is it possible that many believers have turned to Christ, but never let their hearts experience the healing they need to truly “understand” His ways? It’s just a question. I am not trying to add a religious checkbox to your life. I’m only asking to challenge your journey into greater heart transformation. 

The Results of Weak Heart Muscles

The way we often do life reveals that many of our spiritual heart muscles have not been exercised. It shows up in a variety of areas: 

  • We go through the motions week after week and become content with no passionate heart connection. 
  • When trials and challenges hit us like a flood, there is little reservoir to draw from. 
  • Life becomes passive, where we coast through and deal with very few issues of the heart. 
  • We know our relationship with God needs an adjustment, but we don’t know what to do about it. 
  • There are areas of your marriage that need work, but you put off doing anything about it. You chose to not ask your wife how she’s doing, because her answer will call for you to invest more into the marriage. So, you put it off. Besides, the game is about to come on television anyway. 
  • You’ve been told that there are some wounds in your life you should address, but you defend and find ways to skirt away from those subjects. 
  • You have a friend that you need to have a heart to heart conversation with, but you never do. So, the friendship just slowly dies. 
  • You feel yourself drawn to certain addictions and you feel guilty about it. But you haven’t allowed yourself to see what’s going on in your heart that makes you drawn to those things in the first place. 
  • You are burned out, but you’ve come to the conclusion that you’ll always be in this vicious cycle. 

As the Hearts Goes – Everything Goes

I remember as a young man in ministry, hearing about this Scripture in Proverbs, which emphasized the importance of living from the heart. 

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

In addition to keep your heart, other translations say: 

  • Guard your heart . . . 
  • Watch over your heart . . .

But have we been taught what this looks like? How do we guard, keep and watch over our hearts? Because the way I learned about it growing up was not heart development. It was often a performance-based focus:

Don’t do this. 

Make sure you don’t screw up. 

Stay away from that sin, because it will mess up your life. 

Although right and wrong needs to be taught, we were rarely ever equipped to address the issues of the heart that could lead us into the wrong places. 

Furthermore, why are so many Christians, who have served God most of their life, all of a sudden becoming jaded, hardened and even unbelieving? Did they wake up one day and decide they weren’t going to believe anymore? Did this happen overnight? Or are there deeper issues of the heart that were neglected over time? 

Why is it that a large number of Christians, who’ve been believers for decades, seem more worn out and cynical than ever before? Shouldn’t we be developing, improving, growing and showing greater fruit as the years go by? Did this happen because a person stopped serving on the usher team, or is it really because issues of the heart were never addressed and nurtured? 

Why do people fall into sexual temptation? It always seems to shock us when marriages are destroyed, or some kind of sexual sin is revealed. Is it because lust fell upon someone out of thin air? Or are there deeper issues of the heart that made way for the forbidden desires to manifest? 

Could it be that we are stuck in the dilemmas we face, simply because our hearts are not receiving the healing we so desperately need? 

The Heart Connection

Every issue I am addressing here is a call for us to deal with our hearts. How you process the life of your heart will impact everything. For example, the Scriptures contrast a heart that is filled with joy and a heart that is overwhelmed by unhealed sorrow. 

A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
Proverbs 15:13 (NASB)

Look around your community. Go past the surface and take a look into people’s eyes. Do you see joy and fulfillment? Or are we witnessing mass numbers of sorrow-filled hearts? 

When the heart is healthy, tremendous physical health and wholeness will result. When the heart is filled with sorrow that is not healed or resolved, our spirituality can lose strength. Most people manifest it through sluggishness, weariness or passivity. 

Others suppress their pain in chronic busyness and intense drivenness. It’s always important to know that suppressed pain will rise up somehow. The negative effects on the heart will trickle down to every aspect of our life.  

At the same time, when our heart experiences the love of God, strength and vitality can flow like a river. Confidence soars. Our hope gains power. Faith works richly. You wake up to the life you were meant to live. 

But that vitality is not what is often manifesting. Most of the time, it seems we are drudging through mud every day, hoping to get a break from the laborious lifestyle that covers us. 

Recognizing Your Brokenness

Could it be that we are carrying unhealed areas in our heart that serve to increase pressure, negativity, burden-filled living and discouragement? Have you been ignoring broken areas of your heart with constant busyness or a distracted life? 

I’m not saying you are a constant mess. Most people can “function” in many areas of their life, while pushing down pain, emptiness and grief. Anytime these areas get triggered, we run and hide, often diving head-first into another distraction. All to keep us from healing that which needs attention. 

When someone has a physical wound, it’s easy for most to recognize the need for medical attention, care and recovery. But we often lack radar or awareness for the spiritual and emotional wounds we have. 

The Symptoms of a Broken Heart

Many are experiencing these common symptoms of having a broken heart: 

  1. Mood changes.
  2. Depression, unhealed discouragement.
  3. Chronic anxiety, panic attacks.
  4. Numbing out, relational coldness, not being able to connect to feelings.
  5. Relational isolation and loneliness.
  6. Cynicism and constant distrust. 
  7. Vulnerability to addictions.
  8. Chronic workaholism, busyness and performance-based living.
  9. Confusion, double mindedness and scattered living.
  10. Burnout and overstressed living.
  11. Anger episodes that at times, seem to come out of nowhere.

The list can go on and on. 

Moving Past Denial 

Most people do not think they have a broken heart. They shrug their shoulders in denial and brush off any need to address life experiences. We can often say “the past is the past” more in a protective form of denial than a fruitful belief. 

“The past can really be the past” when we allow God to process the life of our heart in a healthy manner. 

Others don’t think heart healing is necessary. They can stack Scriptures or cliché statements to cover over any need to deal with their brokenness. Yet it still oozes out into their relationship field. 

The problem is that we typically don’t deal with brokenness until the garbage hits the fan or a crisis appears. At this point, the crisis is often revealing years of neglect to issues of the broken heart. 

Will you make the decision today to move into a new direction that awakens and heals your heart?

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