“Won’t you give our hearts some weight so they fall in the right places?”
One of my favorite songwriters, Joel Ansett, wrote that phrase as a lyric for a melody. He compares the human heart to falling leaves that drift on the wind and glide to the ground. I can’t help but be reminded of the song every time a brightly-colored fall leaf lands in my path (which is pretty often lately).
For me, “Lord, give my heart some weight” has become a frequent prayer. To pray for a weighty heart seems strange at first. Isn’t a light, carefree heart much more comfortable? I think it is. But it is much, much less alive.
I’d like to clarify that I am not praying for a sullen demeanor or downcast spirit. After all, Jesus celebrated, laughed, and smiled. I’m certain He made the Wedding at Cana a cheery occasion and told jokes over breakfast with the apostles. He scolded the Pharisees for looking gloomy while they fasted; I’m sure he’d love us to radiate joy on a walk to class or through the grocery store instead of wearing scowls around! In fact, Saint Teresa of Avila is credited with saying, “May God protect me from gloomy saints!” The joy of knowing Christ is meant to be shared in abundance and not to be hidden behind a dark, sorrowful veil.
So, be filled with joy. This is precisely what I am praying for: the courage to be filled with matters of lasting importance, meaning, and substance. The current culture entices us to choose things that leave us empty and floating without an anchor. Often, ignoring emotions, avoiding tough conversations, and denying suffering seem much more attractive than their alternatives. Though apathy and desensitization might feel safer than heartbreak and vulnerability, they end up leaving us half-alive. If we are drifting through life, how are we to have a foundation from which to love our brothers and sisters? Our own tendencies towards safety can mean not only our own deterioration, but also the denial of love towards others.
In his book The Gift of Faith, Father Tadeusz Dajczer, a Polish priest and professor from Warsaw, says, “One thing is certain: if we do not pray, no one will need us. The world does not need empty souls and hearts.”
Brothers and sisters, the world NEEDS our hearts filled with the love of Christ. It needs our courage to embrace suffering instead of running away from it, our ability to confront emotions without numbing ourselves to them, and our commitment to bringing depth and meaning into our conversations. What the world does not need is another dull, lifeless soul, dwindling away after starving itself of God’s love and drawing from unfulfilling waters.
The good news is that God is always ready, willing, and waiting to fill us with love that sustains. We have only to come to Him in prayer, open to the graces which He knows will satisfy. For some, this might mean a journey of healing that is anything but comfortable or an invitation to offer up personal suffering for another soul. For others, this might mean learning to feel joy without suspicion or celebrating another’s success without jealousy. One thing is certain for all of us: a life of prayer deepens the wells of our hearts and draws us closer to the fullness of life for which we were made. I invite you to visit a place in prayer that scares you just a little bit: ask God to heal a wound, come to Him in sorrow and allow tears to fall, or beam at Him without questioning great joy.
The transformation that comes from bringing the “real stuff” to light in prayer extends far beyond your own soul. Learning how to bring up matters of importance to our Father is the surest way to fall in step with our brothers and sisters in the matters they consider important, too. When we open our eyes to those around us, it is quite easy to spot a friend who is struggling to see their worth, a parent who is longing for conversation, or a cause that is worth celebrating. The concerns of others are not scraps of litter to be thrown to the wind, but parts of real, beating hearts to be carried with gravity. In feeling the weight of our own crosses, we can better understand the burdens of others. Brave hearts know Who they are carried by, and weighty matters become nothing to fear.
So, face the hard parts of your journey with confidence, knowing that Christ will fill you well. Rest assured that your mind and your heart were not made to go empty and untended - you are made to be full of Life, in the weight of all His glory. The world needs you!
Kathryn Hurd is a senior studying strategic communications and anthropology at K-State. She's a maker, a walker, a butterfly-spotter, and a lover of a good children's book. You can read more of her words, ramblings, and random interests here.