I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Eze 36:26 (NIV)
The Stay Soft Series – Part 6
At the heart of authentic spirituality is transformation. What good is faith if it doesn’t continually lead us closer to home? Closer to the Divine? Closer to healing? Closer to our true selves?
Life happens to us all. It’s tempting to think that we are alone in our circumstances and hardships, that we suffer exclusively from whatever it is that ails us. And while we might be somewhat unique in circumstance, our suffering is shared, common, and collective.
Our great challenge is to keep transforming and moving through the seasons of life, shedding the hardness, and clinging to tenderness. Why? Because when you harden your heart to pain, and also through pride, you harden it to joy and peace, too. You can’t shut yourself off one emotion at a time. A hard heart breeds insensitivity. It shuts us off from wonder, hope, and divinity.
Ezekiel 36:26 Says:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Flesh for stone. Malleability for stubbornness. Feeling for insensitivity. Empathy for indifference.
It’s challenging work to keep an open and soft heart. It takes discipline, awareness, and practice. Which is part of what I call prayer. When we stay open and connected, when we are vulnerable with the Divine, and with those we love and trust, about the hardships of life and our own ego's, we stay connected to the divine tenderness that gently nurtures stone to flesh.
It takes surrender.
That looks like whatever it looks for you. For me, it means to resist the urge to hide and perform and numb my way out of discomfort, suffering, and challenges. It means never to sit too long with pride.
My practice? I meditate. I pray (one and the same for me). I make a deliberate, conscious decision to be in the moment, face the pain and the pride, and breathe through it, knowing that I am intrinsically connected to God and that my connection with ultimate love will take the stoniness in me and transform it into tenderness. Not unlike the holes in the hands of the resurrected Christ.
“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.” – Lao Tzu.
One of the images used for Spirit all through the biblical text is water. A penetrable force, safe enough to drink, strong enough to wear away stone. It’s no wonder Jesus said to a woman he met a well:
“Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:13-14 (MSB).
An artesian spring gushing from a soft heart.
Written by Lizzy Milani