what breaks my heart, breaks my heart, heartbreak, rope heart, bucket list reimagined, 100 droplet gifts, Chile, plebiscite, religion, God, thinking, education, rich country, poor people, letter of the law, spiriti of grace, busy, passion, bucket, herd mentality

What Breaks My Heart

My adopted country held a plebiscite yesterday to approve/disapprove a new constitution, which just may be one of the most radically avant-garde in the world today. At the moment I’m writing this, I have no idea how the vote may turn out. Does it even matter? Whatever happens, I can tell you this: It breaks my heart.

So we approve it. Dear God, what path are we headed down? Seriously, we can’t even see as far as the first bend in the road, but I fear it may steer us off the edge of a cliff.

So we don’t approve it. Can we expect another three years of chaos, confusion, and continually fermenting turmoil? I don’t look forward to that society-wide anxiety disorder in this deeply divided, scarred, and yes, scared nation.

“It is strange how often a heart must be broken before the years can make it wise.” –Sara Teasdale

Let me just say up front: This isn’t meant to be a political post. Not at all. I’m merely sharing my heart.

Ever play Scattergories, that table game where you make lists of words that begin with a specified letter of the alphabet? Dispensing with the alliteration and maybe overlapping some (like sugar, carbs, and calories 😊), my category today is: Things that break my heart…

I live in a (relatively) rich country with poor people.

Chile’s total GDP remains pretty robust. We can boast a high per capita income, one of the highest in South America. But the differences between rich and poor stagger the imagination. As in the olden days of lords and serfs, an arrogant elite is catered to and maintained at others’ expense.

The middle class, which stimulated most of the boom of economic growth, totters on the cusp of elimination. Since the 2019 social uprising (which ignited the present constitutional crisis) and the 2020-present pandemic-become-permanent, prices have hit record highs and buying power has descended into the abyss.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…” –Isaiah 61:1 (ESV)

At the risk of sounding like a left-leaning liberal (which I’m not, actually) or an over-dramatic sentimentalist, my heart bleeds for the hardships. And the panic and the pressing worry. This country’s stunning blue skies have clouded over with gray oppression.

It also breaks my heart that…

I live in a (formerly) religious country without God.

In Chile’s post-modern era, we’re a pious people without piety—witness our perfect willingness to celebrate any number of religious ‘holi-days’ without a thought of ‘holi-ness’ or thankfulness. It never was a godly country. Now it’s a just plain godless one.

In fact, it’s so much worse when the poverty is more spiritual than economic, when the average person is broken both in spirit and in pocketbook. There are worse things than not having a lot of money. One of them is having too much.

And another is not having a spiritual place to call home nor a pang of spiritual hunger. Dear Lord, my neighbors are starving, and they don’t even realize they rattle like skeletons in a tomb.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” –Amos 8:11 (ESV)

But who wants church? More importantly, who needs Jesus, who may be love and joy, but is also just and true? I’ll just honestly confess my heart breaks when my people attend church to be coddled instead of convicted and challenged. When the end goal becomes activity and novelty rather than maturity in the faith.

It breaks my heart that…

I live among educated people who don’t think, learn, grow, or change (much).

If that feels harsh, know I choke it out with a broken heart. Oh yes, as I say, novelty is in; mental renovation and spiritual transformation, more or less out. Recently a devout(?) acquaintance said, “When you start to question everything, Satan is working.”

Really? Don’t analyze or evaluate, don’t use discernment in decision making? How do we acquire good judgment otherwise? How can we avoid pigeonholing people and ‘hardening of the attitudes’? Asking questions doesn’t indicate diabolical unbelief; it reveals our willingness to learn and our trust in the Teacher. We must move out of our comfortable ruts and stop clinging to our status quo.

“Burning hearts are not nourished by empty heads.” –R. C. Sproul

One of the biggest heartbreakers of all is that many people hardly ever read after they finish their formal studies. If that’s not intellectual poverty, I don’t know of any worse. It’s a tragedy in a country that has twisted the ideal of university education into a substitute god instead of a useful tool.

Oh, for the books and stories and devotionals written but not read! For the lessons taught but never learned! Maybe not even heard.

It breaks my heart that…

I hail from a busy people without (much) passion.

They party, all right, sometimes to the point of numbing pain. But I confess I don’t sense a great deal of delight in the regime of bread and circuses, food, fun, and fútbol. The whole lifestyle resembles the glut of dog food shops that regularly open up along the kilometer stretch of street we used to walk daily in our city.

Huh? you say. I like dogs too, I really do. But considering the number of Purina businesses supported in one neighborhood, wouldn’t you think we have our priorities slightly out of whack?

September’s Fiestas Patrias, the Fatherland Festival, presents another example. Officially it lasts two days, unofficially a week. Plus the entire month before to prepare and the remainder of the month after to recuperate! It takes a lot of work to play this hard, heh-heh.

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it.” –Nicholas Sparks

How I wish we were more excited about where we’ll spend eternity than where we’re going to spend the holiday or the fiesta bonus check. I wish we longed for communion with God as much as we love our mate and sopaipillas (fried dough). I wish we could give our lives—plans, desires, choices—to God in the same way we throw our energies into barbecues, buying, and banalities.

Unfortunately, most want to have their empanada and eat it too. I doubt if they even rest from the frantic pace long enough to enjoy anything. The satisfaction is superficial, the fervor fleeting. Lasts about as long as the steak and pisco sour.

And it breaks my heart when…

We fulfill the letter of the law, but not the spirit of grace.

You’ve never seen such a bunch of petty rule-keepers or major lawbreakers as my Chilean compatriots. We tear up the principles of God without a backward glance, yet trouble ourselves over regulations from the government.

Not that I object to laws, necessarily. But it reminds me of the Middle Ages when the common folks felt guiltier about sneaking a pat of butter during Lent than about sneaking around behind their spouse’s back. A lot of odd ambiguities like that sneak into constitutions these days too.

The bandwagon mindset flourishes here. The herd mentality that tells us that whatever the majority thinks and does must be right. We run with the flock, baabaa. Right now, a particularly pervasive inconsistency is the blanket protection and permission of a mask. Funny, our local delinquents have been using it for years.  

So we exist, trapped in our bubbles. Always talking, never listening, we share our words, but not our thoughts. And definitely not our hearts.

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” –Neil Gaiman

Oh my dear friends, don’t run after the rabble. Don’t listen to the babble. Obey God, and think for yourself.

Droplet Gift #38: It breaks my heart that my heart doesn’t break more.

Lately I’ve been rethinking my Bucket List Reimagined. In case you don’t remember, it’s not meant to list Things to do before I kick the bucket. Originally I started it as a meditation on simple ways to grow and give back to the world before I die.

My Bucket List Reimagined isn’t grand aspirations and ambitions. It’s more like impossibilities and grace gifts, because really they’re never things that I can accomplish on my own. My holey bucket suffers constantly from lack of gratitude, empathy, faith, hope, or love.

But God keeps filling this rusty bucket. His goodness and grace drop from the brim, more than sufficient for my needy soul and all our shattered hearts and unraveled dreams. Because His heart is far more broken than mine.

Dr. Howard Hendricks wrote a book many years ago called Teaching to Change Lives. Writing to change lives is writing from my heart, being willing to be changed, moved, touched. And opened.

Everything that breaks my heart cracks open an opportunity to love more, feel more, be more of what God calls me to be. Both here in Chile and every new address.

“Perhaps someday I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.” –Sylvia Plath

All my heartbreak feels equally true of my birth country and culture too. I have no wise counsel. Sometimes tears speak louder than advice, stories more than sermons and statements, compassion more than constitutions.

Lord, don’t take me home until…I open my heart to heartbreak and let my life story say more than my blog.


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