A heart's journey to forgiveness book by Terese Luikens

Why Bother Tenderizing Our Hearts?

I started out as a tender-hearted little girl. I think every child does until a small or large injury occurs and we experience an emotional wound. As kids, our wounds leave an impression. We might put up our dukes and fight back, we might harden ourselves against any further wounds or we might just ignore the fact that we’ve been hurt. 

        Soft Does Not Mean Weak

My dad was a tender-hearted man. I remember how he spoke softly to me with a gentle demeanor, making me unafraid of him. Sometimes, I’d accompany him to work and watch how he’d bend down to acknowledge the elderly residents at the nursing home where he was the  administrator. Watching him tenderly interacting with others left an impression. I surmised that having a gentle spirit toward others was good.

Then, Dad ended his life, on purpose. Consequently, my heart, the core of my nature, was greatly wounded. In response to my injury, I experienced an agonizing fear of being wounded again. To protect myself, I hardened, desensitized, and deadened my inward self from ever having to feel hurt again. Unknowingly, my protective tactic also cut me off from feeling any joy. 

Since growing up, I’ve learned a few things about harboring a hard heart. First of all, I discovered that a hard heart is resistant to love. Hard hearted individuals are unable to receive compassion or kindness from others because they distrust others. Once trust is restored, receiving genuine love is possible. 

Another lesson I’ve learned is that in order to tenderize my heart, I had to risk opening it up once again, even to the possibility of being hurt again. Risking the possibility of hurt feelings, was at first terrifying. But, I was already feeling the sting of my father’s abandonment, albeit feeling it all alone. 

Yet, I found that opening my heart up to others may have meant the risk of being hurt again, it also meant opening myself up to being the recipient of compassion, empathy and comfort from others. 

Finally, softening my heart began the healing of my heart. Healing does not occur in isolation. Instead, it occurs when we are receptive to kindness and consolation which only comes from other human beings who are kind and consoling. 

Why bother tenderizing our hearts? A tender heart is a receptive heart and a receptive heart knows how to give and receive.

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A heart's journey to forgiveness book by Terese Luikens