Just this weekend I learned that my friend Kathy (with a K), who had been rushed to the hospital because of an appendix attack, was recovering from something much more serious.
Initially she thought it was only really bad menstrual cramps, which wasn't unusual for her. She learned the truth of the offending appendix at the ER when the pain got too intense. Off she went into surgery. She'd have a quick appendectomy and be set!
But when the doctors went in, they realized just how serious things were. It turns out her appendix burst (perhaps a few days prior) and was completely necrotic. The ensuing infection from her burst appendix spread through her abdomen and into her blood. She had full on septicemia!
In case you don't know, that's serious. Quite serious. Thankfully, Kathy is now home recovering with the help of her husband, friends and some powerful antibiotics.
On the very same day that I learned of Kathy's burst appendix, I found out about another dear friend Cathy's (with a C) miraculous heart transplant having taken place suddenly on Friday night. Her surgery was also a huge success and she's on a speedy recovery pace already. The miracles of surgery and modern medicine!
Both these events got me thinking...
When an organ is hurt we immediately know we need help... sometimes it calls for surgery.
BUT WHY ARE WE NOT SO QUICK TO GET HELP WHEN OUR HEART IS BROKEN BY DIVORCE, ABUSE, TRAUMA, ABANDONMENT OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Perhaps it's because we don't perceive it as an imminent threat to our life.
You can "cope" with a broken heart... or so we think.
And yet, just like the festering appendix leads to infection elsewhere, we know that a festering heart infects everything else too.
A festering broken heart...
...protects itself, lest it be hurt again
...has a hard time trusting
...feels a little numb
...holds on to resentment
...weeps from the deep wounds it still feels
A festering heart doesn't let you feel or receive the depth of joy, love and peace that you know you're capable of feeling. A festering heart is hurt and broken.
Just like the burst appendix spreads infection to other organs in your abdomen, the broken heart spreads its heartbreak through other areas of your life.
We know we need help for a burst appendix.
We know it's ridiculous to think we could perform open-heart surgery on ourselves.
WHY NOT GET HELP FOR A WOUNDED HEART?
I'm not just talking about a simple breakup. I'm talking about the deep wounds of the traumatic events of the past, that continue to cause pain and resentment. The things we'd rather not talk about.
We fool ourselves into thinking that we can pretend it's not there and get busy. But just like Kathy's hoping her pain was just cramps, ignoring the hurts of the heart will typically only lead to them festering.
The sepsis that a festered, broken heart causes doesn't go away with antibiotics. Instead it takes the shape of constant dysfunction in our relationships; repeating patterns of defensiveness; attracting people who trigger our wounds; and so many other ways that make us wonder why we can't feel fully happy.
WHAT'S THE TREATMENT THEN? WHAT SORT OF SURGERY DOES A WOUNDED HEART NEED?
It's the surgery of forgiveness.
BUT, this is no ordinary forgiveness. After all, we're talking about a big wound that requires massive healing. So just like open-heart surgery or appendix surgery, this level of forgiveness isn't something we can easily accomplish on our own.
This depth of healing, this kind of forgiveness needs a careful, methodical process. A proven process that gently returns us to health. It requires the expert support of someone who's been through the 'surgery' many times and knows how and when to perform each step.
In the majority of cases, we don't have the tools to do this on our own.
And we can't let the wounds of the heart remain and fester.
Some of you reading this know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.
If the time has come to take care of those wounds of your heart, here's one opportunity that may be perfect for you: Mending The Heart - an intensive retreat for women in Vermont on April1-3.