To Bleed and Break

Sometimes all I can see of my heart is red.

Red for the bleeding, the breaking, the pain. Red for the sorrow, the wonder at the way I’m wired. It takes a lot to hold out my heart. To bleed for others, their hopes, their suffering, a relentless concern for those who repeatedly break me open. How can I possibly continue to pour myself into the lives of those who keep brushing mine away?

I don’t know how to live any other way. Is there beauty in this broken? Is there purity in the pain? Is there a white shawl of grace for my upended heart?

I hold out my heart to a man who came to me unexpected, to patch apparently more than my kitchen ceiling, but my broken heart as well. My loyalty-induced DNA and mercy makeup keep me on my knees, grateful at the unexpected gift, feeling every aspect of both our healings as we receive God’s pure, patient, gentle, selfless love again and again. As we give, we receive tenfold, my heart expanding to sizes I never expected it to reach. I love without end.

Who will hold me when my heart lies burdened and expanded? Am I enough?

We love because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)

I hold out my heart to friend after friend, the look of a lasting relationship. I give my loyalty, expose my vulnerable spaces and hope with upturned heart that she will be the one with me to weather life’s storms together. I send notes in the mail, set time for coffee, constant attempts to maintain connection long after it becomes one-sided. I burn out to kindle the low flames of friendship when it seems she doesn’t mind letting the fire wane.

Who will see my heart and fill it with kindness, restore it with honor?

Love is patient. Love is kind.  (1 Corinthians 13:4)

I hold out my heart to strangers, letting them know they are not alone, because Lord knows I understand that sort of suffering. When I move to a new state, knowing no one, I attempt to launch myself into loving the faces in coffee shops, lined and weary people bent in defeat on street corners, and even the body of the church, with no lasting love returned. I am passionate about people, but paving the way to grace is slow going.

Who will come alongside me, stand in my corner, and hold out hope to my trembling heart?

Above all, love each other deeply.  (1 Peter 4:8)

Love is the driving force in a gale of compassion. Still I smile, while glass shards comprise the shape of my heart. Jesus gently guides us to love one another so that when they cut us with their callous words, we bleed for them even more.

Will there be a time when I am whole within my wailing? Will the One who sees me bare-boned and guilt-flecked receive my wounded softness?

I used to shy away from the world. From cracking open and bleeding in front of others, to bending to the level of their eyes to see how they see, and pressing my heart against theirs to match rhythm. I was afraid to let myself go because all I did was give, and it left me empty. I’d cry myself to sleep, wondering why I couldn’t figure out this life and love thing, why I gave but did not receive.

And then Jesus brought me full again, in His own fragile brokenness.

“This is My body given for you… this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

He knew how I would break His heart, knew my unfaithful and stubborn selfishness, and still He remained. He walked to death’s door and left it wide open.

“Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.”

He breathed His last. And when the morning softness broke beyond the tomb, He stepped into the light with life lined once again around His lungs.

Love must be sincere. (Romans 12:9)

He knew the truth: Wounded people wound others. But healed people heal others through the salve of heaven’s wounding.

He felt the strong sting of others who couldn’t stand the love He gave, so He gave Himself up for it. Because He first loved. Because He first loved me, I allow His love to knit me anew, change me, refine me, and propel me out into cold hearts in need of His warmth. I hold onto Him who let go for me.

By His wounds we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5)

Here is my wholeness in the warm light of His love.

Here I am seen, known, and never again chained by a lie that sought to shame this white pureness of heart.

I can withstand the pain because there is good that grows within this soil. Because I am called to bleed.

Chest exposed, flesh soft, light sharp in my eye. He has taken my bruised heart and embalmed it with a steadfast love that pursues. I will press on with lifted hope. I will hold these hearts within mine like it’s my privilege, a gift from God. I will not grow weary in loving like Him.

It is, after all, from these holy wounds that we are woven whole.

Sarah Rennicke writes at the intersection of beauty and the everyday while grappling with God’s goodness when life projects otherwise. She is a member of Redbud Writers Guild, writes for nonprofit organizations, is the editor of Awake Our Hearts, and enjoys her simple Midwest life in Wisconsin. She writes at