If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

I’m not one who rigorously keeps up with the news, but the bit I know of current events is enough for me to feel the terror of a world in freefall. Senseless killings, blatant racism, moral wreckage, religious arrogance–the destruction never ends.

As the creation crumbles into hopelessness; my own hopelessness wells from within. How can my flimsy sword pierce such suffocating darkness?

I found the answer today as I unpacked books to fill the empty bookcases in our living room. Each book I handled with care, deciding which (few) to cull out, grouping books loosely by theme and author, and sliding them onto the shelves.

A book fell open in my hand. I glanced down at the page, and my breath caught in my throat. It was a poem by Emily Dickinson.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

Could it be that my shoulders were never meant for the burden of the whole world’s sorrows? And that only Jesus is big enough? With His presence inside of me, I can bear my tiny part. I can bring kindness to humans within my sphere.

I’d like to think that I am not capable of breaking hearts, but I know that isn’t true. The fragility of my own soul reminds me daily.

I see the world shattering, but sometimes fail to see the significance of my place within it. Hurting people are everywhere, and I must care for them with the grace of Jesus. I must care for the hearts of my husband and children. I must hold the hands of my little ones and teach them to show care to the broken people around them. Jesus is always, always with us, and His light is true and strong.

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.

15 thoughts on “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

      1. E

        I don’t know what I think. 🙂 If only one was rescued from so many, I would wonder why He created so many. (I still wonder that with many having been rescued, why should so many be created that perish?) Somehow I think my helping that one must still flow from His heart that no one would perish. And can I say no when He brings 5 or 10 or 20 or 1000? Sometimes it would be nice if it was Only One. That’s All. But I love this post (tears) and I think I get it: it’s to inspire heart and courage in engaging with One More.


        1. This post isn’t about being selfish–being nice to one person and then thinking your duty is done and you can live the rest of your life how you wish. It’s about each person being valuable and worthy of our care, and when we feel overwhelmed by the world’s need, we can start with touching one life. (I wouldn’t think I had done well as a mother if I kept only one of my children’s hearts from breaking, meaning I did break the other three!) I totally agree that God doesn’t want anyone to perish!


  1. Victoria

    I guess this is why I go to work every day as a Victim Advocate at the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center, here in town. You know, so often it does seem hopeless. Mothers and babies come in with bruises and fractures or broken bones. Rape victims come in. And there is very little justice for them in the court system. Yet I fight for them with every ounce of my being. I pray for them, support them, and help them try to find hope, even when the American government rarely offers them justice or reprieve. My boss tells me if we can even make the smallest difference in one person’s life, it’s worth it all. And it really is. You see someone beaten with a crowbar and it shatters you. Yet the emotional damage to that person is often worse than the physical. And so we care for and nourish them even though there won’t be physical justice brought to them. Till the new heavens and new earth when the Prince of Peace with healing in his wings will fully reign forever. I can’t wait for that.


  2. Dinah

    I appreciate this. As a fellow mother of young ones, I wrestle with the feeling of being “only a mom” and wonder how I ended up here. Sometimes I wish I was able to go to Greece or Syria or Dallas…somewhere “where they need Jesus!”…and this is a good reminder that my own spot is as important as any spot.


    1. You’re right, motherhood is a highly valuable spot. How many people are deeply wounded by not being loved well at home? I’m sobered when I think about that.

      On the other hand, if you feel the longing for far-off places, it could be that God is calling you. So that desire is not necessarily something that should be squelched. 😉

      God bless you as you lovingly mother your little ones!


  3. Cindi

    Beautifully Written! All of the brokeness in the world feels so hopeless at times because I can’t make it all better but I need to remember that God only asks us to be faithful where he has called us. For most of Jesus life on earth he worked for his earthly father in a carpenter’s shop…. I think he understands when our hearts cry to do more for the world but we are surrounded by little people who need us so desperately. Maybe in this season of Motherhood he needs our prayers more than our actions and then we will be prepared to act when our little ones are a bit bigger. I love this poem!


    1. Mothering is not a trivial job–the love you pour into your little ones will not be wasted! And prayer is not a trivial job either. Blessings to you as you take care of your children and seek to know God’s heart!


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