I’ve been thinking about capacity lately. Not how much rich food my stomach can hold – rather my heart capacity. How much emotion can I realistically handle before it overwhelms me? Particularly the negative and stressful stuff. I think this is a thing that varies greatly from person to person. Like the capacity to parent – some people can have five children of their own and then foster more. I knew my limit would be two. I was right. And they survived – just!
Moments of overwhelm
But our capacity to care can also been greatly influenced by own health and emotional strength. It dominated my thoughts particularly one recent weekend when I was feeling physically lousy, my elderly parents contracted Covid, my baby grandson was also poorly, and my daughter had a birthday celebration. To top it all the dog required a visit to the vets. I made the comment to my husband that perhaps we weren’t designed to have the capacity to worry about four generations of family at once. Which sounds awful now that I read it back. I love still having both of my parents around, and both of my parents- in- law too. And I love being a parent and a grandparent. It was just one of those moments of overwhelm. Not knowing where, or on whom I should be expending my emotional capabilities. Who needed my support most? And why wasn’t I able to give more? Yep. Let’s add guilt to the emotional load.
God’s heart capacity
We used to sing a song in church that had the tearjerking line ‘break my heart for what breaks Yours’. I struggled to sing it then, and I struggle with the truth of it now. Yes, we are called to be compassionate, to see the needs of others, to care as Jesus cared. But I for one, know that my heart capacity would break far before God’s heart would. There is no way that I could take on all the cares of the world like our Saviour does. Do I really want to be so totally overwhelmed that I am in fact useless to anybody?
The news is heart-breaking at the moment. The sufferings of ordinary people thrown into war. The plight of refugees, and not just the ones from Ukraine. The ongoing spectre of Covid. The mess in government and the economy. I have to admit I can’t watch the TV news. The tipping point for my overwhelm runs too close to the surface.
Jesus: my heart’s release valve
And then I remind myself of Jesus’ words, just hours before He was betrayed and crucified for the burden of the world’s cares.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me John 14:1
We can use all sorts of self -care methods to prevent emotional overload, but actually Jesus gives us a very simple one. He says, ‘give the trouble to Me’.
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Our hearts have a release valve, when they feel close to bursting, and it is Jesus. Things are far easier to bear if we share them with Him. That’s the beauty of prayer.
Enlarge my heart
I am reminded of another scripture also
I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:32
The context might actually be speaking of a capacity for wisdom and understanding here. But I also believe that God can enlarge the capacity of out hearts. Perhaps not to breaking point, as the song used to go. But perhaps to make us more aware of the needs of others, give us more understanding, more compassion, more capacity to give. I could do with that. Perhaps it is good then to pray ‘enlarge my heart, God.’
Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.
‘The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022
More information on Joy and her writing, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com