It may have been a post-script, but it was undoubtedly the most important part of Ryan Hallet’s letter to Madison Alstrup, for its meaning is the core message conveyed in From The Heart. But it isn’t the first time the sentiment has been conveyed. In fact, it was the first piece of advice collectively given to the POstables:
“Please take care of your hearts, for from them flow the wellsprings of life...”
This paraphrase of Proverbs 4:23, spoken by Theresa Capodiamonte in “To Whom It May Concern,” echoes much further into the SSD canon, begging the question---what does it actually mean to “take care of your heart” as scripture implores us to do? Why does it matter?
From The Heart does an excellent job of illustrating the answer by, showing us what it looks like, and what can happen, when we fail to properly do so---both literally and figuratively.
Failing to take care of one’s heart can result in unhealthy heart conditions, which can include the following symptoms:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
In From The Heart, past hurts, rejection, insecurity and more stored inside the hearts of Shane, Oliver and Ryan in particular, manifested themselves in both words and actions.
On the more extreme end, Ryan Hallet's wounded heart caused him to drink and drive, resulting in the death of one person, and the broken heart of another. Ryan's efforts to relieve his pain caused him to make a choice that ended up not only impacting him, but those he loved, and even someone he didn't know.
When we fail to take care of hearts, we have wounds that cause us to react in ways that could find us not only hurting ourselves, but others.
One of the things that stood out to me about Maddie's story is that not only did she tell Ryan she loved him and get stood up in the park, but Maddie also never married as an adult. As she became older, her congenital heart defect condition worsened as well. It was as if the hurt she experienced in her relationship with Ryan ruined her for any romantic relationships in the future. Too afraid of having the same wound inflicted on her heart, Maddie avoided situations where she might become similarly vulnerable.
Sometimes when our hearts have been hurt, we combat the pain by hanging onto our hearts too tightly, making it difficult, if not impossible, to truly connect with others.
Maddie's congenital heart defect is an apropos analogy for the worst possible outcome for not taking care of our hearts. At a certain point, the accumulation of acting out and hiding out can result in isolation, which can ultimately cause a wounded heart to become a hard heart that's jaded, skeptical, and ultimately fated to fail.
Why Does It Matter?
When we allow God to deal with our heartbreaks, He not only heals them, He makes sure to work them into His greater plan for our ultimate good. Our heartbreaks and experiences grow us in wisdom, but they also make us more sensitive to the hearts and hurts of others. That next person we have the courage to allow our hearts to become vulnerable enough to reach out to might really need the wisdom of the hurts and heartbreaks of our past to "create light in [their] present darkness." If we act out or hide out, we miss out of the opportunity to create something beautiful out of something painful, both for ourselves, and for someone else. Sounds like a powerful way to spend our lives, doesn't it?
Remember the rest of what Theresa said?
"...Life is beautiful. Don't waste a second."
So let's get to work---there's a world out there that needs us.