Growing a Bigger Heart

The reality is that in life various obstructions minimize the impact of God’s presence in our hearts and minds.

How can we develop the sort of open and compelling attitudes that position us to cope with the hardships of life because we are overall stronger? This metaphor of a “bigger heart” suggests some dynamics to experience the changes in attitude involved.  Here are some steps we might take:

One, contrast two containers for water: bowl versus river. Both hold water, but the bowl is smaller than the river. Its boundaries limit the amount of water it can hold. And therefore, salt affects the taste more easily in the bowl than in the river. It often seems true that the smaller, more narrow a person’s view and experience of life, the more critical and judgmental that person is, making it quite difficult to embrace change, diversity, or difference.

Two, contrast the movement of the water in the two containers. In a bowl the water is still. In a river the water is moving. The result is that salt is less invasive, less harmful in the river than in the bowl. When we see life as a journey, a movement, a developmental process, we have more patience with difficulties and difficult people. We are able to cut some slack for ourselves and for others, recognizing that no one is a finished product. We are all still growing and maturing. We are people “under construction.”

Three, moving water in a river can expand the river boundaries because that water has an ever-flowing source that keeps the river continually filled and running. Water in a bowl is finite and cannot move the boundaries of the container. Several principles are implied with this third point from the metaphor of bowl versus river. If we want to grow bigger hearts, we must recognize and acknowledge the Source of compassion and peace. The divine source of life flows constantly. God’s presence is everywhere.

Our task is to be willing to step into that flow and join the current of life. The more we immerse ourselves in God’s presence, the more we expose ourselves to this divine life, the greater our capacity to live the divine life. For a river to flow full and free, all impediments and potential obstacles must be removed. The reality is that in life there are various obstructions that minimize the impact of God’s presence in our hearts and minds. This is like a human artery clogged with plaque, which lessens the flow of life-giving blood to the heart and other significant organs, producing a condition called arteriosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” The effect can sometimes lead to heart attacks and other severe, potentially life-damaging conditions.*

* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.