Purple Hearts

I felt a little teary-eyed a few days ago upon remembering it was Veterans Day. It wasn’t due to the sacrifice and service of our veterans, although I am deeply grateful for them.

Rather, I was reminded of some events that took place five years ago around this time. I was sitting in my first counseling session with a dear woman who worked on the same campus where I was teaching.

That day, she asked God to reveal any wounds in my life that still needed healing, and in that moment I was transported back into time to the tiny room I had shared with my older sister as a little girl.

Just a little beyond the entry of the room, I saw a glass heart lying on the faded, linoleum floor. The bottom part of it was elongated and had a bubble protruding out of the very tip of it.

It was stained purple toward the top, with the stain dripping down toward the elongated part of the heart but not quite covering it.

I stared at this odd-looking heart out of curiosity, but before I could do anything, a kind, older man gently scooped it into his arms and sat in front of the toy chest at the end of my bunk bed, instantly getting to work on repairing the damage that had been done to this misshapen heart.

I didn’t have to ask the man who he was. I knew. He was the one who had created this heart, this heart that I somehow knew was my own, from my very flesh.

I stood beside him as my little five-year-old self, asking Him what He was doing as He rubbed it in between His hands as if to warm it up.

I don’t remember much of our conversation, but I know that He was gentle with that purple heart and that His intent was to heal it and to make it a heart of flesh. I also know that He made me care about the heart, because He was showing me in that very moment how much He cared about it Himself.

I shared this scene with my counselor a moment later, and she was very intrigued by it. We conversed and prayed a little more after this, and then I headed out of her office, fully determined to head to Hobby Lobby and pick up the best supplies I could to complete the assignment she had given me for our next session–to draw the purple heart.

I was able to purchase the supplies I needed that same day (along with the time glass pictured above that I felt compelled to buy in light of everything). I felt too intimidated to draw the image that day, however. I wanted it to be perfect and didn’t trust in my artistic abilities. After a day or so, however, I knew I couldn’t put off the project forever, so I sat down to work on it.

Still feeling insecure about my ability to represent the glass heart, I decided to look at images online of purple hearts and anything that might help me to draw my heart.

It was only then that I was reminded that it was Veterans Day and that I learned the meaning of the purple heart for the first time.

This was the definition I read on my computer screen that afternoon: “The purple heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hand of the enemy.”

(www.purpleheart.org/historyorder.aspx)

Reading the definition that day gave me goosebumps. I became all the more aware of the fact that I was a soldier in a spiritual battle and that I had received my own wound by an instrument of war in the hand of the enemy. The purple heart I had envisioned a day or so earlier had been no mistake. God was revealing a much bigger picture and a much greater battle than I had dared to imagine. And yet He was also showing me that no wound was too great for His healing and care. He could restore my heart if I was willing to let Him. He desired to make me whole and to continue to use me as a warrior in the spiritual battle at hand this side of eternity.

Much was to take place in the months to follow as I continued to meet with my counselor and be open to what God wanted to do in and through my life during that time. Perhaps I’ll feel lead to write about more of that down the road.

For now, however, I am content to have been reminded of the purple heart from years ago. It reminds me that a war is waging and that we must be equipped for the battle. And no matter how much our hearts have been wounded by our enemy, God is still in the business of making them whole again. We have only to let Him.

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