How to guard your heart

The other day I was telling a friend that I thought the heartbreak songs he had written were lovely. It was the third anniversary of Zoe’s terminal diagnosis, and when I told him I was listening to more heartbreak songs that evening because it suited my mood, he replied that he hadn’t written any songs that heartbreaking.

That exchange got me thinking about how often people tell me that when they think of Zoe’s story, it puts their own troubles into perspective. I get that, and I know it’s been a life lesson for many people whose lives Zoe touched. It certainly helps me to put everyday disappointments and dramas in their place. Aren’t we all learning over and over not to sweat the small stuff? Actually if you have this completely figured out – please let me know 😉

The flipside of this is that sometimes contemplating someone else’s sad story can make you feel you don’t have the right to your own sorrows and heartbreak, because your story or situation didn’t have such a tragic outcome, or because your are not the clear cut victim of something so profoundly and obviously unfair. In other words that you are unworthy of it.

But here’s the thing about heartbreak. You can’t compare yours to the next person’s and judge it as being more or less worthy. Just as you can’t think that your joy and happiness is any more or less joyous or deserved than anybody else’s. As Plato said, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. That includes you. You can’t deny your own story or heartbreak, you’ve got to own it and feel it in order to heal it in your own way.

And once you’ve written your songs (or listened to them if you’re untalented like me), planted your garden, journalled your way through it, seen a therapist, made your prayer flag, got a new tattoo, whatever it takes to heal your particular heart, if you can move forward with an open heart, willing to risk more heartbreak in in order to attain joy, then I think you are winning at life.

There is a verse from Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. An earlier version of me would interpret this to mean don’t give your heart away too easily, don’t let anyone in so you can make sure no-one breaks it.

Now I choose this to mean, guard the openness of your heart. Don’t let it shrivel up from disuse, become bitter and cold. Be open to letting new people in, allowing them see you for who you truly are so that you have the privilege of seeing their true selves. Sure, there might be more heartbreak in your future, but a heart is a pretty resilient thing. As long as your blood still pumps through it, there is possibility.

If you need some beautifully crafted heartbreak songs that already sound like classics to listen to, you can listen to Stretch’s Depot Demos here, and if you like them, pay whatever you think they’re worth to download them.

14 thoughts on “How to guard your heart

  1. What a beautiful and gracious post and wish for healing. I think you are right that we must be kind to each other and keep our hearts open. How sad it would be if we denied ourselves love and healing in an effort to avoid pain. Take care, Kiri. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had cancer two years ago and survived. It has become epidemic! I have two children and can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. I love how you have opened your heart up to the world.
    Thanks for stopping by the party. More guests keep rolling in the door, so stop back anytime!


    • It certainly gives you a new perspective on life doesn’t it? I always tell people I am glad they cannot imagine losing a child, because I wish nobody had to. I read some great posts from your party, thank you for hosting!


  3. Thank you for our time together today – getting out in the sun and fresh air – and our conversations. I was keen to read this post after you mentioned it to me today.xo


  4. What beautiful words you have written here Kiri. I came by for a visit from Susie’s Hop but I have a feeling I shall enjoy reading many more of your posts!


  5. Wow. Your blog is amazing. And powerful. Thank you for sharing such deep and personal thoughts on grief and loss. Stop by my blog sometime if you want a cheap laugh at my expense. (That’s pretty much all my stuff is good for.) 😉


  6. I think we tend to compare ourselves to others without consciously doing it, and this applies to our sorrows, too. Your encouragement not to judge our grief – or others – is very good advice. Letting people into my heart is one of the most difficult things for me to do since Jason died. I love your picture of Zoe at the top of your blog.


    • I’m glad you think it’s good advice Rebecca. Letting people into your heart is often easier said than done. So sorry to read your story of your son on your blog and your struggles since. A bereaved parent’s grief journey feels like it doesn’t have a destination, but I think being able to reach out to others who are also on the journey is an important part of it. Your son sounds like he was very special. I so often hear or read of the empathy those who have died young or been through childhood cancer (like Zoe) seem to have. I always wonder about the special grace they have been given.


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