Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad.”
Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”
As I reflect on these scriptures I can’t help but think of the word ‘Abandon’. The word Abandon means…give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking); discontinue before completion; cease to support or look after; desert; leave empty or uninhabited, without intending to return; condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them; allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse).
When we read the scriptures above, I believe they are an indication of a heart on the verge of or in a state of abandonment. A heart that is abandoned produces broken passion and desire to pursue purpose.
There is another scripture in Proverbs that says, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” Stated another way, an abandoned heart has to be addressed and if not addressed properly our human nature is to self-medicate to deal with the pain of our heart condition.
As of late I have spoken to many men who have tried to convey their current, passionless state…their inability to be motivated about things they were once very passionate about and the attempts to spark the flame of motivation again through various activities and outward acts.
I took the time to listen to each brother, looking at them as if they were in my prayer closet with me as I speak to God about my own lack of desire, lack of motivation…sometimes to the point of despair of life itself. Before you get beside yourself and say one needs to simply turn to God, understand that the bible is riddled with men who walked close to God and yet…for one reason or another…found themselves in despair of heart. Take for example that after Elijah defeated the prophets of Jezebel and she pursued his life, the man of God went under a juniper tree…a place of little covering…and the scriptures says, “he requested for himself that he might die; and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.””
Think for a moment about Elijah’s statement. He was a man of great passion and faith in God’s word, but after achieving great victory, because it did not seem to deter those who sought to do him harm, he was so discouraged that he requested death!
As I think about him I start to think about the impact life has on the heart and how our struggles can cause us to abandon the very things for which we were once passionate because our heart has been damaged. In those moments we feel abandoned. For men…specifically husbands…there is no greater abandonment than when our families…especially our wives…abandon our hearts and it triggers the beginning of a process in us that we must fight against with all diligence, but can be difficult to overcome.
So how does an abandoned heart look like and respond? First let us look at some of the definitions of ‘abandon’:
“Give up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking)”
The abandoned heart stops practicing, thinking and/or moving in ways that are native to it. For example, a husband with an abandoned heart will find it difficult to do the things for his wife that normally comes naturally to him. The wife may or may not notice it because she cannot see the silent self-talk he has to engage in to motivate himself to act in loving ways, that use to be effortless.
“Cease to support or look after (someone)”
The abandoned heart in a man kills his instinct and desire to protect and serve the ones who wounded his heart to the point of abandonment. It is the nature of a man to protect, but a damaged heart delays his response to protect or even the desire.
“Leave (a place or vehicle) empty or uninhabited, without intending to return”
The abandoned heart is void of a resident or presence greater than its pain. This means, the heart is not conducive for habitation of the things that once lived in it and was cherished by the owner of the heart. In extreme circumstances the wounded heart works hard to even push out the very God who causes it to beat. Why push God out? Because in the mind of the wounded heart the man is tempted to believe that God could have prevented the wound. If he is blessed with a moment of clarity he soon understands that God did not cause the wound, but can heal it.
“(Abandon oneself to) allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse)”
The abandoned heart becomes reckless. An abandoned heart seeks to recover the things lost during the breach and damage. It is natural to the human body and thus our nature to self-repair. A reckless heart usually only causes more damage…rarely lasting repair.
One last thing the abandoned heart does…it becomes a fortress. Egress in or out of it does not come easily. There are many layers of security and as a friend stated, “you managed all relationships differently, even those not a part of the abandonment.”
So what do we do about an abandoned heart? The answer is still one I am seeking for fullness, but right now it seems the answer is to understand how the wound improves our strength instead of how it weakened us.
If I take the greatest of example, Jesus, then I have to state that it seems what allowed Jesus to overcome his wounds was the ability to focus on a greater focus. What is the greater thing that will be abandoned, if I follow the pattern of abandonment presented in and to my heart? Stated another way, who’s heart will I abandon, by reacting incorrectly to my own abandonment?
Since most of us find it difficult to measure up to the actions of Jesus, let us consider what Isaiah 58:12 says and I believe God requires of us as men and husbands: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in”.
What is this saying? What is an abandoned heart if not a “waste place”? But God expects us to be those who build up the “old waste places” and “raise up the foundation’s of many generations”…meaning set an example for others to build on.
How? I believe the answer is in Proverbs 20:5, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out”. We have to surround ourselves with men of understanding to pull the counsel buried deep in our hearts, that will be the seeds of rebuilding. Just as the body has the ability to repair itself from a cut, everything we need to recover from our abandonment is already in us, but just as we need a doctor to help heal some wounds, it is the heart of the “man of understanding” that will help us gain the proper position to heal and build.