I held up a perfect, red heart for my kindergarten kids to see. They ooh’ed and aah’ed in appreciation.
“That’s beautiful, Mrs. Givens. I can’t even make one like that,” said the boy who proudly held the self-proclaimed Best Cutter Outer award. No one even argued when he called himself this. He was the best cutter-outer that we had.
“I think this heart is beautiful, too,” I told my kids. “It’s so nice and smooth and clean.” They all agreed.
Then their awe-filled faces looked on in despair as I crumpled the heart up into a tiny ball and stomped on it with my foot.
“What’d you do that for?!?” asked Best Cutter Outer. “It was so nice.” He was so distraught, I actually thought he might cry.
You could’ve heard a pin drop. Nineteen pairs of eyes were trained on me as they all held their breath. I had their full attention.
“Imagine that this was your heart. It was so clean and pretty and pure when you came into the classroom. You thought it was perfect, and it was. But now think about some of the things that have been said to you before that hurt your feelings, that hurt your heart. Your pretty, smooth heart got a little wrinkle the first time someone said or did something ugly to you. Then another wrinkle when they said it again, didn’t it? But even worse than your own heart getting wrinkled is knowing that you put wrinkles in someone else’s heart…”
A girl sniffled. A boy looked down at his hands.
“Wouldn’t it be sad if all of our hearts were wadded up like this ball every day? It would be terrible! How are we going to fix this?”
A little hand went up in the air. “Smooth it out,” said a shaky voice, almost in a pleading way.
“Yes! Smooth it out! Flatten it up!” They started shouting. “Get the iron!” someone yelled, and I conveniently “didn’t hear” that one.
I carefully began to smooth the heart out. Some sighed in relief. I smoothed and smoothed and smoothed until they started wriggling around on their carpet spots.
“Well?” I held it up. “What do you think?”
They looked at it carefully, thoughtfully. “Better,” someone said. “But not the same. It’s still wrinkled.”
“It’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart, isn’t it?” I answered. “We can say we’re sorry, we can try to be helpful and have fun with the person, and we can start saying nice things to them to try and smooth out the mess we made. But see these little wrinkles? They’re hard to get rid of.”
We remind ourselves often in my room to watch our words, our hands, and our feet to make sure they are not hurting someone else’s heart. We talk about how hard it is to fix a wrinkled heart. Just yesterday, I had a little girl come up to me and say, “Mrs. Givens, _________ has wrinkled my heart twice today. What am I gonna do with her?” 🙂
It’s true, friends. This world is so hard. Our hearts are easily wrinkled. We have an enemy who uses every available tool to crush our hearts–to destroy them. And his best weapon? Our brothers and sisters on this earth. The situations we are walking through. The past we run from.
Just like my school children learned and still discuss daily, it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart. My own human mind repeats to me when I stare at the construction paper cut-out, “It’s impossible, Paige. This will NEVER be the same heart again. It’s impossible to fix.”
And it is impossible, in our own strength. There is only one Mender of hearts, and that is the Maker Himself. The One who formed us and molded us in our mother’s womb. The One who made our hearts.
We were born with black, sin-filled hearts, and only when we invite Jesus in to stay does He clean out our mess of sin. And because we are human, we let sin back in our hearts every day. Because…we are human. But when we become Christians, we have the privilege–the underserved, grace-filled, merciful privilege–of asking Jesus daily to come in and clean out our hearts. And He does. Every time we ask.
But what about the wrinkles? What about the cruel words that have been said to us? The misdeeds, the unfairness that has attacked us? What about the grief that has broken our hearts into pieces? What about the guilt that racks our hearts when we are responsible for smashing someone else’s?
He fixes that, too. He cleans us up. He lovingly mends the tears and broken places with His healing touch. He smooths out the wrinkles, just as a loving parent smooths the head of their beloved child.
Grace is a healing balm.
On our own, we cannot forgive and forget. We cannot smooth the wrinkles of bitterness, grief, and pain out of our hearts. But with God, all things are possible. With God, our hearts aren’t just mended–they can be made whole and pure again.
When you have a wrinkled heart, give it to the One who made your heart. He will fix it, friends. I know, because He fixed mine.
And He didn’t even need an iron. 😉
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-9, 16