Every time I visit my Father at the nursing home, a piece of my heart begins to bleed. It drips down and puddles on the floor of my day. Most people don’t notice it. But I know it’s there. I wish it weren’t. I wish I could make it vanish, but I am not strong enough to wash it away.
I took care of my Father for 9 ½ years before it became absolutely necessary for us to move him to a facility. I know he’s in the right place. I know he’s receiving excellent care. But those words don’t make my heart stop bleeding. Last year, he blew out the candles on his birthday cake, smiled and sang some songs. This year he couldn’t really see the candles to blow them.
Since he was diagnosed 17 years ago, the Alzheimer’s that’s turned his life upside down continues to take him away in pieces. And every time I find myself focusing on that sad reality, my heart bleeds more and the puddles get bigger. So I try not to think about it. I try to focus on the blessings, the fact that during some visits, he still knows I’m his daughter and tells me that he loves me. Or that he still prays and sings songs. Or that he’s mostly easy going and the nurses enjoy him. Or that each week the hospice chaplain visits him to sing hymns, read the Bible and pray over him. Or that he’s only 40 minutes away from our house. Or that he’s in the best facility in the southeast. And that always helps.
But what do I do about the blood at my feet? How do I wash it away?
If anyone knows anything about broken and bleeding hearts, it’s Jesus. Before He was born and laid down His life for mankind, Jewish priests would make animal sacrifices for the people’s sins. They would dip their finger in the bull’s blood and sprinkle it on the atonement cover seven times. (Leviticus 16:14)
Then Christ was born, lived a sinless life, loved people and showed them the true nature of God. And when Jesus became the sacrifice for our sins, He shed His blood seven times:
- In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was under such duress that his capillaries burst and his sweat became drops of blood.
- Roman centurions lashed Jesus with a cat of nine tails.
- This horrific scourging caused extensive internal bleeding.
- Jesus bled when the crown of thorns was put on His head.
- Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross.
- A nail was driven into His feet.
- A sword pierced His side.
As Christians, we celebrate Good Friday because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and made a way for us to have a relationship with God. He gave authority back to mankind and restored what was lost in the Garden of Eden. He changed everything, not just so we could go to heaven one day, but so we could live a victorious and abundant life here on earth.
So what does that have to do with my bleeding heart?
Some might say, well, if Jesus can handle that kind of pain, then you need to carry your cross and deal with the heartache. But that is ridiculous. No where in the Bible does Jesus approach the hurting and wounded and say, ‘Hang in there. As soon as you learn your lesson, you’ll receive healing.’ No! He healed them right there. Some healing was gradual but not because the person needed to “learn a lesson.” (Mark 8:22-25)
Jesus paid for our healing before he went to the cross. “He himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we might be dead to sin and live for righteousness. By His stripes you have been healed.” I Peter 2:24
This doesn’t mean I’m never going to hurt or experience heartache. But it does mean that my pain is covered by the blood of Jesus. All of it. And I don’t have to ask for it. “…you have been healed” means I already have it. It’s mine. It’s part of my inheritance. And if you’re a child of God, it’s your inheritance too. Not for when you get to heaven but here on earth. Right now.
So what does that look like whenever I go to see my Father at Fountainview? It means every time I hurt, every time I look down and see the blood pooling at my feet, all I have to do is agree with what Jesus has already done.
“Father, Your Word says ‘by your stripes I have been healed’. So I give you this heartache and I thank you for healing me.”
When Jesus went to the scourging post and was lashed with a cat of nine tails, he paid for and secured my healing. So no matter how much blood pools at my feet on those difficult visits with my Dad, Jesus’ blood washes it all away.
Jesus didn’t just die for my salvation. He died to deliver me, heal me, call me, empower me, fill me and bless me beyond measure. His blood covers every single need I ever had or will have. His death wasn’t a fire insurance policy to keep me out of hell; it was a glorious exchange. Jesus took my sin and gave me His righteousness, or right standing with God. He gave me the keys to the kingdom. I don’t have to wait until I get to heaven to get them. I have them now.
So I don’t have to stay in the heartache of my Dad’s illness. No matter how many times I visit my Dad, no matter how much he’s regressed, even if he forgets who I am, the blood of Jesus has secured my healing. For my brokenness, my sorrow, my grief and my pain.
And if that doesn’t make this Friday ‘Good’, then I don’t know what does.
2 thoughts on “How to Heal Heartache”
Great article Angie and a very good analogy.
This is so good, Angie. Sounds like Jack is doing well at the nursing home. Praying for you and Jane often🙏🏼 I have miss your blogs!