Heart of the Matter

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8 ESV

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine of Hippo

Show me this person’s heart. This is a brave thing to ask of our Father because he will and not in the way we hope. Heart surgery.

My mother-in-law was a lovely person in so many ways. She could also be a dependent, manipulative and controlling person. She was not abrasive or judgmental, in fact she was loving and encouraging to me. But when anxiety hit, it could be all I could do to breathe. Phone calls every week at a very specific time no matter what was going on in my husband’s and my life. Structured visitations, no matter the upheaval. Nothing majorly wrong, just bad timing in our overly busy lives and running on empty to comply. Rushing to get this task, another task, my mother-in-law, done! Check her off the To-Do list.

Show me this person’s heart I prayed. It was answered.

First, my Father showed me my task-oriented, rushing, achieving, self-centered ways were in the way. Second, my mother-in-law meant well and was loving me the best she knew. I don’t love perfectly either. Third, the unfathomable heartbreak in my mother-in-law’s life.

With an open heart I learned how my mother-in-law lost her father to Polio. Her mother became ill about the same time with the same dreaded disease and was put in a Polio sanitarium for months. My mother-in-law was just a young child farmed out to distant relatives during this dark time. No daddy. No mommy. Uncertain if mom would live. No home. She became an inconvenience, costly and disruptive presence in the relatives’ lives. A bother. Things that are traumatic to a child can dictate their whole lives and this was a biggie!  She was reunited with her mother several months later. Rebuilding without a daddy. Looking for a home. Clinging to each other. World War II with her military husband away at war as a very young, very in love wife complicated her childhood trauma.

Love this person’s heart. My embarrassed heart grew like the Grinch’s on Christmas Day. Solution? I stopped rushing the phone calls, in fact, I called her every week even when she was in a care home with dementia. When needed, I set gentle and reassuring boundaries—I won’t leave you. You’re very important and I love you. I’m just a phone call away. When she came to visit, we had a lovely dinner with some wine and laughed ourselves silly with girl talk. The more attention I gave, the more my husband, her son, gave to her too. Her heart had been abandoned by life and others. Unavoidable, true, but the heart of the matter is to love like Jesus did. There’s always more to the story. It spreads. It’s infectious. It heals. It renews. It restores. It’s wonderful!


Asking the Father to show another’s heart leads to our heart being made whole first. Painful, embarrassing, shocking sometimes but so needed in today’s culture.  Loving relationships with others, myself and the Father are rewards for today and eternity.  Someday I’ll see my mother-in-law. What a day that will be!


Dear Father,

It’s so easy to jump to the wrong conclusions about someone’s heart including our own. Thank you for you heart and your Son’s. Help us see beyond the outside, the annoyances, the disappointments, the frustrations and get to the heart of the matter.


Published by Barbara Hinther

Barbara Hinther author of Meditations and Encouragement for the Caregiver of a Loved One with Dementia and What About Me, God. Time to share what she has learned and hopefully, others will know they are not alone. This too, shall pass with beautiful, yet painful, lessons. Barbara lives in a rural town in Idaho where all is community. Bless everyone in the community for their support and their never-ending let’s pitch in attitude! She worked in marketing for over 30 years and volunteered with the Idaho Youth Ranch and St. Vincent’s de Paul Thrift Store. Then her hardest job ever was caring for her husband who died from Lewy body dementia and needed her full-time care. Feelings of abandonment were constant. Life was very difficult for a while, but love, faith and hope will overcome. Let the adventure continue!

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