Which one would you prefer? Which one do you think you have? Which is actually better?
In sefer Yechezkel (the prophecies of Ezekiel, chapter 36), the prophet describes a time somewhere off in the future when Hashem will give us a new heart and a new spirit:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
What does having a heart of stone feel like? Probably: nothing. In other words, no feeling at all. And I would imagine that, like me, many readers will have gone through periods in life when they preferred not to feel and instead tried to live like an automaton, just “going through the motions” without getting emotionally involved.
It’s a brave person who dares to confront his feelings. In fact, modern medicine often tries to pathologize people for feeling too deeply. Personally, I would be insulted if someone handed me a tranquilizer in order to deal with a painful event in life, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. Feelings can be painful, so much so that our instinctive reaction is often to run the other way, and all too often, we run so subconsciously that we don’t even realize why we’re acting the way we do.
Luckily, Hashem is running the world, and when He judges us ready to finally confront our feelings, He sends us gentle encouragement in all sorts of ways, hoping that we’ll take the hint and start the process of turning a heart of stone back into one of flesh.
We mask our feelings in many different ways, and it’s so tempting to plod through life like that, believing that taking the time to “deal with stuff” is a luxury we can’t afford ourselves. The truth is, however, that Hashem only wants something very simple from us. Something that we can give Him in less than a minute:
“Hashem, help… My feelings are messing me up and I don’t know how to deal with them. I don’t even know what I’m feeling, or what I’m supposed to be feeling, or what to do with the feeling…”
In ancient Shushan, we had the death penalty hanging over our heads, and all we had to do to annul it was engage in sincere, heartfelt prayer. We were truly deserving of death, but Hashem responded to our cries as the loving Father that He always was and is.
Let Him heal your broken heart.