on tending to a wounded heart

We are so hard on ourselves. When we feel some emotional pain, we berate ourselves about it: “How dare you feel upset right now!” we sternly tell ourselves. “Just think about all the suffering people in the world.” We don’t want to give ourselves permission to experience one of the most basic human instincts: grief.

I am gently telling you right now: It is okay, my dear friend. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. If the sorrow fills your body with a heavy ache, reach out your arms to it and tend to it gently and lovingly. If a baby in front of you cries, you pick her up and soothe her. Allow yourself to do the same with your tender soul. Would you berate the infant for being upset? No–you simply tend to her with compassion and love. Give that same love and care to your aching soul. Fill it with compassion, with longing for its lord, and take that ache and pain and raise your hands to the heavens with it.

The father of Yusuf (Joseph) mourned his missing son for decades. The ache never left his soul, rather it settled deep into his bones. And yet he was of the most pious of men, never forgetting to call on his lord through the pain. He wept so bitterly for Yusuf that his eyes went blind from grief. Do you know who it was who criticized his grief? His ignorant sons. “You will never cease remembering Yusuf until you grow old or perish.” In modern terms: “Get over it, Dad.”

And yet from the deepest depths of grief the soul may fly to the highest of heights. Hold fast to these two things:

  • Treat your broken soul with love, for your Lord is calling you back to him through this brokenness.
  • Use your grief to come closer to Allah, and do not despair, for His mercy awaits those who keep hope alive.

We are all broken souls, stumbling through this life to one day return to our Master. Let us treat these tender, broken pieces with love and care.