“It is not judgment that breaks the heart, but mercy and love.” ~Hasidic lore
I came across this quote tonight on Facebook, and it seems to sum up my experience of the day in an unexpected way. It’s been a day filled with blessings—full of mercy of love—that took me completely by surprise. And I’ve been on the verge of tears much of the day.
This didn’t make sense to me until I saw this bit of Hasidic lore, and it clicked.
I am well acquainted with judgment. I suspect most of are in our own ways for the world is full of it. Growing up in a conservative Christian environment, it often felt like judgment was what our religion was all about. Even when I was not being judged myself at the moment, I was so often hearing judgmental things being said about others.
Unfortunately, I internalized all of this judgment into a ferocious self-critic, which often overflows into judgment of others (much as I am ashamed to admit it). All that judgment—from self and others—has left its scars, and I am now hyper-sensitive to even a shadow of judgment coming from people around me.
But as much as that judgment may hurt, it does not break my heart. Rather, it builds layer upon layer of defensiveness and armoring around my heart to protect me. It creates walls and barriers that keep others at a distance. Every hurt feeling, every tear cried from encountering judgmental and condemning attitudes just grows those walls thicker and higher.
Those walls created in an attempt to keep me safe confine my heart so tightly that it can’t break. It also cannot breathe or let go of the pain the judgment has caused or wash away the words of condemnation. My walls have become a prison instead.
But then there are those moments when mercy and grace and love shine through and melt away the walls, at least for a moment. Suddenly my heart can breathe again, and it has space to break wide open and let the poison out—poison that can be washed away by the flood of incoming mercy and grace and love washing through my now-opened heart.
The resulting tears that bubble to the surface are the overflow of that healing, cleansing flood. They are tears of joy and remembered pain and healing wounds all flooding out together.
This is why I agree that it is not judgment that breaks my heart—indeed judgment locks it up too tightly to allow it room to break. It is mercy and grace and love that break it wide open, releasing it from its imprisonment so it can heal and breathe and sing forth the song it’s meant to sing.
There are moments when I am completely overcome with amazement for all of the blessings that are flowing into my life. Today is one of those days. I still don’t know where this path I am on is leading me, but I am convinced that I am where I am meant to be because this much healing and grace would never be possible if I were heading the wrong way.
My heart is broken wide open today by mercy and love, and I am too grateful for words.
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