Trusting the Healer to Fix Your Broken Heart
I will never forget the words that came out of my American dad’s mouth in one of the many visits he made to Brazil before he headed back home. At some point in his embrace, we exchanged mutual understanding of the word saudades, a Brazilian Portuguese word that expresses the depth of missing and loving someone at the same time. Before walking out the door, he looked at me and said: “It is as if you were my own.”
The power in his words had an instant effect over me. Just like that, I belonged.
I was born and raised in Brazil. Besides working to give me all I needed, my parents also took me to church so I had many opportunities to learn more about God. His love always entangled me, and I was deeply drawn to the cross very early in my life. I knew God’s Word was true, and I also knew the hole in my heart was real. I needed to be restored.
As my parents began to struggle financially and emotionally, they became absent without even realizing it. So at the age of nine, I felt like my needs were superficial and troublesome, and I ended up heartbroken, as I watched all those conflicts surround and swallow my family.
Later in life I gained another set of parents, my American family. At the time, I was only a pre-teen and I was trying to teach myself English. This led me to meet missionaries who came to share Jesus in the slums in Brazil and I began interpreting for the Duncans.
That day, the gap in my broken heart began to fill-up with the body of Christ.
Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Duncan was my fairytale story with God, and it changed my course of brokenness.
I was adopted into this family where I soon learned to actually belong. Now that I’m a mother myself, I see how difficult it must have been on my mom and dad to allow a foreign family to take me to live in America for different seasons of my life. I often wonder now, how they felt when they had to let me go, without much certainty or explanation, but holding on to the faith that God himself was the one going before me.
Becoming part of the Duncan family meant I began to be taught about God by a father who was strong in faith and firm in the Word, someone who I learned to deeply love and appreciate. With time, my bonds with Mr. Duncan only grew stronger. I was confident in many ways, because of his constant and unfailing love for me.
In April 2020, the pandemic turned very real for me when Mr. Duncan became ill. I had no idea life was about to change like it did. It took us three flights and a few days of quarantining to be able to make it back to Western Pennsylvania in time to say our goodbyes.
I watched the man the Lord used to mend my broken heart be taken to Heaven.
The thing about living on someone else’s faith is that you don’t notice you are walking on extended grace. Losing Mr Duncan was what it took for me to finally realize that I could hardly hear from God anymore on my own.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
During my time of grief, I learned that God’s righteous right hand was there to pick me up. As I was willing to grow out of my old-emotional-teenage self, I learned how to lean on Him.
I learned to trust that God alone had the power to heal my broken heart.
I still can’t believe it took grief for me to learn this truth, but I have been strengthened by listening to God. Here are four main places where I am learning to meet the Lord and rely on God’s strength in my grief.
One of the things that helped me listen more clearly to Jesus was starting a prayer journal. I noticed I needed to write the prayers I couldn’t pray, because there was so much I just couldn’t say. Everything sounded too heavy and deeply sad to me. Writing helped me find honesty in my own heart and bring it towards God as a prayer.
As grief came in waves, I learned that praising God through worship was a good way to surf those waves, instead of constantly drowning in them. I began playing worship songs, and verbally surrendering to Him. I ended up composing 15 different songs within the last year and every single one of them is a treasure to my soul, because they are songs of hope that teach me who God is.
After writing those songs, I felt empowered to write about Mr. Duncan and I ended up writing a whole book of memories. Exposing my vulnerability also allowed me to reach out to others, and every time I connected with someone else, I was made strong in my weakness. This is still a powerful exercise to strengthen my weary soul.
The final place, where Jesus is still teaching me how to find him, is in the stillness. Going through grief made me brave to make a lot of changes in my life, like going on a sabbatical. We all need to find a way to slow down while living through loss. When we find time to sit still before the Lord, we can watch as He unwinds our feelings and emotions before us. Finding time to study my Bible deeply and devote myself to prayer as well time to contemplate the work of His hand and be thankful for being alive are the very places where I started to glimmer again.
I am no different than others when it comes to grief. It is still hard on me in many ways, but there is something ever so valuable that I am learning through it: I don’t need Mr. Duncan or any other strong Christian to fix me anymore.
God is my true healer!
Aline Meyer spent the last 15 years teaching elementary school students in different British international schools in São Paulo, Brazil. After experiencing the grief of her adoptive American dad, she began to write more intentionally about hope found in Jesus. She is now living through a sabbatical year, enjoying her post as a full-time mom and working on her first book. Aline uses her experience to reach others, who are also looking for growth and maturity in their relationship with Christ, after losing a loved one. You can find her weekly devotionals at quietime.medium.com. as well as short reflections, stories and poems on Instagram.