What Broke Your Heart in 2013? [Year in Review]

Revamping the ‘Year in Review’?

Glowing accomplishments, mega successes, adorable photos, 2013 highlight reels are swirling around the internet. While they’ve been meaningful to read let’s look back at 2013 in a different light. What broke your heart? What moved you?

What is not okay with you?

Pay attention to the brokenness that brings tears to your eyes.

Heart pangs well up for a reason and lead you to great purpose in loving and serving. Maybe it’s orphaned children, education, the care and keeping of our earth, human trafficking, homelessness, addiction, empty mailboxes, hungry neighbors, sad teens, a young mother with no place to wash laundry.

Mindful observation of what truly moves you is the place to begin forming hopes for 2014.

Although not without struggle 2013 was a beautiful and provision filled year for me. It began chaotically unsettled and came to a close with resounding peace. After reflection – it’s these four themes that entirely undo me:

Loneliness

There’s little else that breaks my heart like the sorrow of loneliness and lack of camaraderie. I’ve seen how feeling alone festers in some so long that it morphs into poor health, depression, desperation, and in some — suicide. That is not okay.

“I’ve never really had friends,” the 84 year old woman told me as she reached for cat treats on a grocery shelf too high and shared her life story. That people feel emptiness and experience friendlessness on a planet with 7 billion people is not okay with me.

Broken Relationships

I ache for the ones experiencing seasons of brokenness. Whether it’s painful divorce or relationship strain, children feeling unloved by their parents and vice versa, friends mis-aligned, pain passed on through generations, grudges kept or wounds inflicted, it affects me. Although it’s agonizing at times to be aware of fractured pieces of life in community it drives me to prayer for myself and for you.

Lack of Wholeness & Health

I’m painfully conscious of the ways in which others, myself included, are not living in full health and joy — emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I see people chained to devastation and many who don’t even know where to begin healing the bruised and broken parts of their lives. I’m slowly escaping my addictions to comfort, safety, and perfectionism and know you might have a few chains to shake loose too.

I believe in healing. I believe in restoration. I’ve seen how God works miracles through my faithful and relentless prayer. In sparing the life of my mother from infection when I was in 6th grade and the life of my father after a car accident when I was in 9th grade, neither of which should have survived. In providing for each step of my life, joining me with an incredible husband, and igniting my passion for life well lived. In wrapping me with authentic friendships after he planted me in a new town.

Lack of Presence

Allen Hood talks a lot about, “Intellectualism devoid of the power of God.” There’s so much heady knowledge about Jesus out there in the church and on the streets. It often makes no difference in the lives of many — no wonder. It lacks the presence of God.

I don’t know what you believe about Jesus but there’s a simple meal involved in one of the stories I love about him. After his resurrection from the grave one of the last encounters with his friends was spent on a beach. He made a big fire cooked a few fish and some bread and said, “Come to breakfast.” That has to mean something. Instead of being some judgmental, unapproachable God, he’s sharing a meal with his friends at the edge of the water.

Being with people, being present, changes them. Living in community and sharing humble food will always have an impact if you let it.

ONTO 2014

What breaks my heart led to the creation of Kitchen Fellowship. This community is about gently pressing into hope and relentlessly moving toward wholeness. It’s about fellowship and restoration and the healing of what’s broken, one meal at a time.

Instead of charging ahead in 2014 to accomplish only lofty and self-serving goals, look at what’s not right with life that YOU have the gifts and power to fix. May your heart burn for what is good and right in this world and may you be alive in love.

What breaks YOUR heart? Tell me in the comments below.

***My post was inspired by the beautifully transparent year end post by Jessi Connolly.***

11 comments… add one

  • Katy January 10, 2014, 3:13 am

    This is a tough ask – bearing hearts is hard, right? But I thought I would take a minute to share my struggle to overcome what I think was probably postpartum depression or pretty close to it. I never told my doctor or my husband (he knows now) because I never had thoughts of harming my babies or myself. I only ever wanted to lie down and cuddle my new son. But I was certainly not myself for several months. I’m generally an upbeat, positive person with a flair for the dramatic. But after the first few weeks after having my second baby (and I had a really hard, life-threatening delivery), I sank into a pretty blue place. Navy blue. Icy. I loved my babies and wanted to hold them and cuddle them all the time, but I felt worthless, exhausted, as if I didn’t matter to anyone around me. I couldn’t communicate effectively – I lost my voice, both figuratively and literally. If I had only been able to hint at this, I would’ve had an army of support ready to get me the help I needed. But I just couldn’t – I didn’t have the energy, the power, the words. It’s hard to explain – I was trapped in my own navy blue space and I have never felt this way before or since. I couldn’t even identify that fact when I was in the middle of it. I just became angry, snippy, hard to be around and hard to deal with. Eventually, journalling, prayer, putting down my pride to admit what I was going through to my husband, and frankly, the last of the hormones leaving my body got me through it. I feel 100% back to myself now, except for my frustration and sadness because I know so many more new mothers are feeling this way. Women who are sweet-tempered and who are wonderful mothers. “If they would only admit it, we could help them” we say. But they probably just can’t. I couldn’t.

    I share this with you all because it breaks my heart how post-partum recovery is treated in our culture. I know so much effort is being made to remove the stigma from PPD so women like me would be able to find a way to seek help. The fact is that new mothers are sent home way waaaay too early from the hospital and left with basically no emotional, medical, physical support until the 6-week appointment . Women used to be expected to lie in bed with their babies and be waited on for several WEEKS, not several days. I bet this helped tremendously, but it just will never happen now. I don’t have a solution for this, but there are so many ways to help the new mothers in your life. Notice if she seems “off” or “not herself.” This doesn’t mean she’s going to harm the baby. It doesn’t mean she’s going to harm herself. But it could be a sign that some professional counseling or medication could help bring her back into the light. Even if she seems “normal,” cut her a break. Offer to sit with the baby in her living room while she gets a shower. Bring her a token that shows you remember that she is a worthy individual, and not a hopeless, barf-covered failure. Compliment her skills with her baby. Compliment the baby. Just check in.

    I sort of can’t believe I wrote this on the Internet, but you asked for it, Alysa, and you got it. Heartbreak. Let’s heal it where we can.

    • Alysa January 10, 2014, 12:33 pm

      Oh Katy!

      Bearing hearts IS hard but I’m ever so grateful that you did! I very much lost my voice and ability to communicate effectively in the beginning of 2013 too and went through my own phase of anger/snippiness/hard to be around. It wasn’t related to birth, but I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one.

      THANK YOU a million for sharing that some new mothers “just can’t” ask for help. That’s surely a revelation which will help me reach out to new mothers in different ways. I love that you used the word “worthy”; it has my brain spinning with ideas of fellowshipping and restoring mothers.

      Really proud that you wrote this on the Internet! It’s gritty and real and I’m sure it will impact many, many others — just as it has me. Thankful for your expression of heartbreak and for the way you mother your children.

      • Katy January 12, 2014, 3:33 am

        Thank you for your support, Alysa! I know while recovering from the births of both my kids, the simple words “you are a great mom” were incredibly uplifting. And when I had the probable PPD, I was most grateful for “helpers” who expected absolutely nothing from me and literally led me to a quiet room and allowed me time to bond with my baby.

        Thank you for all you do. I’m sure you will be a beacon of light to any mother you encounter.

        • Alysa January 17, 2014, 11:35 am

          Great to know! Simple words can mean so much! I’m going to keep speaking them to all the mothers I know. :)

    • Deborah Penner January 11, 2014, 1:28 am

      Wow, Katy, This is powerful and brave. Thank you. Reading this breaks my heart for you and for every woman out there who’s there or has ever been there. I find myself just wanting to scoop you all up and make it better. (Apparently I have more mama in me than I knew :) )

      We in my age group need to find a way to connect with you in childbearing years, to tune in. We’ve been there, some of us. And we need to find a way to reach out, reach in and let you know that you don’t have to do this alone … by simply reaching out as you have suggested. I am wondering if our fierce independence and go it alone culture contributes to this even more … where it is so easy to be isolated in your house with your babies and go unseen … unnoticed …

      Connecting the generations … there’s something to that. If there is someone without extended family close, wondering if there is a way to forge connections.

      What I know is that you speaking out and telling your story is a very big deal. Yes … lets heal the heartbreak. Be the flow of Love for the next one …

      • Katy January 12, 2014, 3:43 am

        Thank you for your kind words, Deborah. And don’t worry- all is sunny in our garden now. : ) I think one major difference between our generation of new mothers and the previous generation is the advent of the internet. I know I as well as other new moms get sucked into reading and taking advice from Mommy Message Boards. Unfortunately, many of these online discussions are filled with women seeking to justify their parenting choices by passively-aggressively belittling others. Even if you don’t participate, just reading all of these opinions is confusing and confidence-shaking as a brand new mom. Obviously the solution is not to read them, but often they are extensions of email lists or websites that are helpful to a new mom. It’s especially tempting to read this junk in the middle of the night when you’re in the dark nursery feeding your baby and browsing the internet to keep you awake.

        All this to say, a real live human, especially someone who is a seasoned mother, simply saying “You are a great mother” goes miles and miles.

        Have a wonderful weekend!!

        • Alysa January 17, 2014, 11:37 am

          Not a mom yet and I can already see how those ‘Mommy Message Boards’ are c-r-a-z-y b-u-s-i-n-e-s-s! Yikes. Really happy you started your blog – I’m sure it’ll be MUCH better for moms all around to find real life advice without all the drama! :)

      • Alysa January 17, 2014, 11:34 am

        I love that you used the words “tune in”! It’s definitely one of the focuses of life together. Tuning in and being mindful of the needs around us. Overjoyed we’re all sharing struggles here – as I know it helps me tune into what those around me need. There’s DEFINITELY something to connecting the generations — especially supporting those without close extended family.

  • Deborah Penner January 11, 2014, 2:22 am

    Ok, Alysa, I finally have the words.

    What breaks my heart most deeply is that I grew up as an mk in Japan, the oldest of 5 and never fully understood how very much Jesus loves me .. you … every single human. The god of the bible that I grew up with was a hammer waiting to strike. I was terrified of getting it wrong and being banished to hell.
    Within 6 months of graduating from high school … I went to Christian Academy in Japan, I bolted and said no more. I was done trying to live up to standards I could not begin to reach. Done. I went on a ride and a hunt to find the God of LOVE …

    2013 is the year that took me deep into the journey of the beliefs that drove that choice … and the subsequent experiences. 2013 is the year I looked my almost lifelong subverted death wish in the face thanks to Retracing Sequence Method. It is the year that the neurons that fired and wired together during the trauma of rape at 6 were intentionally refired and unwired … giving me the opportunity to intentionally put in new beliefs …

    Powerful restoration. 2013 is also the year where I became certified use this tool that has helped me move systematically towards freedom to facilitate others in moving towards freedom and Love ..

    It breaks my heart to look back at 58 years and know that I chose to put the face of hammer, hate, anger on God because that is all I knew.

    And yet here I am … deeply in Love with all of God … God the Father .. Jesus … the Word become flesh who dwelt among us … and Holy Spirit in a way that I have never before been able to touch, and I am more committed than ever to removing the internal blocks to loving God with all of my being, loving myself fully, loving my neighbor as myself, all of my neighbors … in all of the world … so that His love flows freely through me …. without restraint. That drive is what gets me up in the morning … like making up for lost time …

    I don’t know how much sense this is all making … I really just want to wrap up the whole world in my arms and love us back to wholeness … one person at a time …

    • Alysa January 17, 2014, 11:31 am

      Oh Deborah – thank you from the bottom of my heart for begin so transparent and sharing here. I’m so grateful that you’re on the journey to know the God of LOVE! What a story you have! I’m praying that it will touch other people’s lives in a healing and meaningful way. Incredibly glad that 2013 was the year of deep restoration for you.

      Your words make sense. Each one of them.

      You’re a dear, dear woman, Deborah.

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