It’s not easy to hold on to hope, especially when your heart is bleeding. Georgia Shaffer understands.
Georgia is an amazing woman! We’ve been friends for years, but long before I met her she had already battled breast cancer twice, and had been given a less than 2% chance of surviving ten years — just as she went through a painful divorce, becoming a single mom to her then eight year-old son. It’s been over twenty years — and although she had the privilege of dancing at her thirty year-old son’s wedding — she’s faced many more challenges and trials since.
But God has done some incredible things in and through Georgia’s life and used her to counsel and encourage countless other women around the country. And she’s still learning about holding on to hope…
Once again my bleeding heart plant is blooming.
When I was a little girl, the heart-shaped flowers of the bleeding heart fascinated me. And they still do. On each arched stem hangs a string of perfectly formed, puffy, pink hearts with a translucent drop at the bottom.
While some say the blossom resembles a heart with a drop of blood, to me it also looks like a heart with a tear. Either way I think the flower symbolizes what we suffer during times of loss—a broken bleeding heart.
Because I love this plant, I put one in my garden after I was diagnosed with cancer. The first year it bloomed, I often sat on top of the brick wall next to it and wept.
“I want to feel light-hearted.” I wrote in my journal. “I want to have fun. I want to go to the movies, do simple chores like the laundry and all the things my friends can do but I can’t.” I was extremely fragile and weak.
But God used the bleeding heart during that time to help me express my pain. He seemed to whisper during that time, “I feel your broken heart. Let me wipe your tears. Let me bring good out of this suffering.”
Years later, while gazing at the bleeding heart plant, I discovered something I had never noticed before.
Only on the fully formed, mature flowers are the hearts broken. On the ones still developing, the heart is perfectly formed with only a droplet-like formation hanging from the bottom. As the heart develops and grows, it opens and then breaks.
Only this year, as I treasure my bleeding heart, I find myself struggling to accept my broken engagement. The pain of shattered dreams and the deep hurts that come from a once close relationship can be crippling. But once again I am reminded by this plant how my growth and maturity seems to develop—through suffering and during times of brokenness.
Question for Reflection: How has suffering shaped you? Do you simply go through trials and difficult times or do you allow God to comfort you, sustain you and grow you through it?
Georgia Shaffer is a licensed psychologist, a certified life coach, a sought-after speaker, and the award-winning author of several books, including Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make and Taking Out Your Emotional Trash. She is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today, a member of the teaching team for the American Association of Christian Counselors’ Professional Life Coaching Training programs, and a board member of the International Christian Coaching Association.Visit her at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com And check out her garden photos on Pinterest!