A Message to the Heartbroken

At times like this, feeling is hazardous to one’s health.

A working heart can be a liability in these days because its treasure, its beautiful, sacred tenderness—is the very thing that leaves it vulnerable to injury. Every false word, every act of violence, every appearance of injustice strikes a vicious blow to its surface. Like a twisting piñata, it sustains the damage until it can no longer help but to break and spill out all the goodness within it. It is a bloody and brutal thing to endure, to be emptied in this way.
And so to prevent this daily breaking, most people decide that their only protection is to stop feeling altogether; to become so calloused and so hardened that they are no longer moved by the pain in their path, no longer burdened by the suffering of another. They begin to stop caring until one day their hearts become stone things, heavy and cold and immoveable. Yes, they’ve escaped further wounding but they’ve lost their softness, they’ve surrendered their supple flesh—they’ve become stone themselves.
These are days that will break the working heart, and I imagine right now you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth it to be this badly broken. You’re so exhausted by the feeling and the breaking and the bleeding, and you’re asking yourself if you should just stop giving a damn.
You shouldn’t.

Empathy is the lifeblood of our fragile humanity, dear friend. It is the thing that sustains us all, and in moments like this it is more precious than ever. The world needs people like you who are willing to have their hearts broken; people who wake every day prepared to be wounded on behalf of another, because they know that this wounding allows someone to be seen and heard and known when they most need to be.

It is in inviting ourselves to feel the pain of each other that we see our kinship with them, our connectedness, our sameness. It is in the crucible of such bruising that the best parts of ourselves is formed. 

And the thing is, we’ve seen the price of becoming heartless. We know what happens when a human being loses the ability to grieve for another’s suffering, when it disregards everything but itself. We’ve seen what such a life yields—and this is not the path worth walking, pain or no pain. You know that and I know it.

No, you and I are doomed to live this way because that fragile, flexing muscle in the center of our chests will not let us live any other way. And yes, this heart is a weakness make no mistake it is a weapon, too. It is the thing that lifts us and moves us and propels us straight into the bloody battle when every instinct says to run the other way. It is the defiant, relentless, rebellious force that will not allow us to turn away when someone is hurting.

And it is the one thing the heartless people are threatened by, because they know that there is no more formidable adversary than a pissed-off, heartbroken human being who refuses to stop giving a damn. This is who you are.

So nurse your wounds, sew up the gaping holes, and rest until the blood returns—and then jump into the fray again; heart affixed to your sleeve and prepared to break once more.

Yes, you are hurting—and you are the person the world needs right now. 

Be encouraged.



146 thoughts on “A Message to the Heartbroken

  1. Oh John P, bless you bless you bless you. I know you won’t see that, but I bless you anyway knowing the Holy Spirit will in Her way, communicate it to you that you have been blessed.

    What you write is what I have clung to all my life. It is so rooted in the Gospels, in what I have been taught is the only true way to enflesh faith.

      • Thank you, Kathleen.

        Yes, I am doing better as I have discovered that stage three kidney disease can be easily treated and does not have to become stage five which is when dialysis is necessary.

        My gratitude to all who wrote in such tender support yesterday when I was distraught. Your prayers made it possible for me to calm down and do what I needed to do.

        What is truly sad is that none of those who write in disagreement with John P, who castigate him for failing to be “Christian” had any consoling words to offer me.

        Proving the truth of what John P wrote yesterday and proving how much human beings need to be the kind of person John P describes today.

        Let those with ears hear. Or should I express it this way? Let those with eyes read.

        • Hello Gloriamarie…I am currently going through immunology therapy at UCSF for kidney cancer. Lost my left kidney in 2011 and lost both adrenal glands January 2016. Now kidney cancer shot off to 3 other spots in my body…I am happy to report the immuno therapy seems to be stablizing current growth and no more new spots….I have been on this therapy since August…I feel absolutely wonderful. My prayers and best wishes go out to you. We are going to beat it!!!!

          • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{marlene good}}}}}}}}} While I am sorry that you have this trouble in your life, I am very happy to read that things ae going well for you.

            I just learned Monday that mom was dxed with kidney disease. Monday was also her 92nd birthday. The good people following this blog were very supportive.

            • Thanks so much Kathleen, attitude is so important and my wonderful medical folks at UCSF are always so positive….wonderful people such as yourself are angels in disguise. Thank you…

        • Gloriamarie,
          Amen!! So glad to hear the better news on your Mom. Will continue to pray for both of you because it’s not an easy road ahead. Always remember that there are those of us who will be with you in spirit. I sense a truly strong woman in you and suspect you probably got it from your mother.

        • Gloriamarie, By the way, there are those of us who duly noted who offered encouragement. Think those others were so busy nitpicking what we said and taking a word and trying to define us with it, to think of anything else. I find that incredibly sad. Peace

          • I was under the impression that I offered my gratitude to ****all**** who offered me encouragement.

            It is sad to me also that those who most nitpick over whether or not John P is a Christian who writes Christian words are so busy arguing with him that they ignore a sister in need.

            However, that is also conversant of my experience with the Christian Right. They are more concerned with correct theology than compassion.

            This is why I am so grateful to John P for the mirror he holds up to us and various sized shoes he offers people to try on.

            • Gloriamarie, You are so correct. That has been my experience too. In one congregation we had a lady who kept a tally on how many times my husband said Jesus and rated his sermons by that scale. Had nothing to do with the content just one word. That is just one of many. We have prayed that she will hear the entire message as will others. And yes you did offer your gratitude to all, I was just disappointed in the nitpickers who failed to offer some kind words. Not you, Not you, Peace

              • Thank you for letting me know that the above Anonymous is you, Kathleen. My personal troll shows up in my email as a blank and so I never read anything with a blank.

                How sad and sorry that woman must be who counted the number of times your DH said “Jesus.” She must have had trouble in her life.

                Thank you for the reassurances.

    • Gloriamarie (and anyone else),

      I don’ know if PJ (Pastor John) reads the comments, but I know he reads Tweets, you can Tweet him and he will see that.

  2. Thank you for your words of encouragement! May you continue to lift up those in these very difficult times and may Jesus Christ continue to give you the words, guidance and hope to spread for all who so desperately need it.

      • Gloriamarie… ‘Episcopalians on Facebook’ is a wonderful prayer ministry for every prayer need. [You probably already know about it.] I’ve been praying for you & your Mom for months & months. I guess, I failed to mention it.

        • Thank you, Anonymous. Thank you for your prayers.

          I do wish you would write under a name of some sort because I usually skip all posts which come up with a blank where a name should be because the troll that has attached itself to me always has a blank.

          I do know about Episcopalians on FB. They kicked me off that group when I was in the hospital after a heart attack. The administrators didn’t like it that when I made a daily report, I stated a new comment. They wanted me to post only to my original comment. They refused to believe me that the substandard keyboard provided by the hospital did not have arrow keys and it is impossible to scroll. Besides, I was really quite ill.

  3. Dr. Bruggeman, in The Prophetic Imagination, reminds us that as Christians we cannot become numb to the suffering of the world but must remain loving (even to those we oppose) and engaged on behalf of the world’s vulnerable. Thank you for this reminder today and for, as usual, saying it so well. I think many of us are being reminded of how lonely it can be to stand in the tragic gap and how vulnerable it makes us.

    • I can’t wait until Leslie gets here. She’ll probably tell you that Dr. Bruggeman is a New Age shaman who “witchdoctors” for a tribal enclave in a remote section of Siberia. And did you hear about the awful…

      Fundies delight in conspiracy theories and other such BS.

    • Dear Elaine Gant Clements,
      I found Dr. Bruggeman’s, “The Prophetic Imagination” a fascinating read – especially in its defense of “social justice” as an emerging theological principle with Biblical roots.
      What caught my attention was the degree of secular collectivism and the resulting dependency Dr. Bruggeman emphasized must be “instituted” to achieve “neighborhood”.
      Arguably, Dr. Bruggeman’ essentially seeks to sacralize state control over individual enlightenment in order to sustain his concept of neighborhood.
      It appears to me – Dr. Bruggeman is simply cloaking collectivist thought and statism in a theological wrapper.

      Last, I don’t subscribe with Dr. Bruggeman’s position on gay marriage.
      I believe his reasoning is flawed, weak and very dangerous to me and every gay couple, who are or want to be legally married.
      As a proponent of gay marriage – the legal arguments, based on our Constitutional rights – are critical and continue to provide a stronger argument and a greater degree of protection under the law from discrimination.

  4. As usual, you seem to know what we need to hear. Thank you for reminding us of our humanity. It would be so easy to just shut down so thank you for reminding us to keep on keeping on. I for one needed this reminder at this moment. Peace

  5. Thank you John- Your words are touching, sensitive and obviously inspired by God’s presence within you. For me, heart ache and heartbreak have always existed in me from the time of my first memories. It was what allowed me to come to a gradual understanding that I was different than those around me– the majority who never seemed to feel anything that I felt or see anything that I saw–those who noted my “difference” long before I accepted it. It helped me to feel closer to Jesus- in that my understanding of what he went through, since the time of his first memory, seemed strikingly similar to what I was going through. It was a gift. To not feel, to not experience and fully understand brokenness, abuse, rejection, injustice, oppression and alienation would have turned me into those who are numb, unfeeling, never bleed, and are able to do the horrific to another and walk away laughing. And the thought of becoming that…. was the worst trauma and nightmare of all.

  6. Steve Charleston
    February 8, 2015 ·
    They are still waiting, the hungry and the poor, the refugees and their children, still waiting for the justice they deserve and the compassion they need. All around the world there are people waiting, waiting for answers that don’t seem to come, for peace that never happens, for enough to eat or a warm place to sleep. It is impossible not to notice, not to see, not to care. The lonely and the lost are waiting, on the streets and in the corners, out in plain sight, on the news, beneath the bombs, beside the parade that passes them by. Please, God, do whatever must be done, move us, move history, move hearts, please, they are still waiting.

  7. John, can I only add one little thought? Our hearts often break because of our expectations – because we honestly think things are gonna CHANGE, and it’s gonna be BETTER. We must fight for what’s right even if it seems or is hopeless (no pun intended) and there is no change in sight. And the only way I, at least, can do that is to lessen or actually let GO of those expectations, and recognize that I am simply fighting for the right REGARDLESS of the outcome. It helps me, at least, to keep my heart from bleeding as much.

    • Well said, Hope.

      We can only take responsibility for our own behavior, our own stuff, and do what is right for the sake of love, regardless of the choices other may make.

  8. We must love them both —
    Those whose opinions we share,
    Those whose opinions we don’t share.
    They’ve both labored in the search for Truth
    and have both helped us in finding it.

    — Thomas Aquinas in Imagining the Sacred by Vernon Ruland

      • No, I disagree. He was a better person than that. Of course, he would have applied the scholastic method to them and rebutted the bejabbers out of them. But he would have done it lovingly.

  9. Thank you for these words of understanding, J.P. I pray that we may all keep our hearts soft as doves and our minds sharp as steel, so we can have empathy for those who are suffering and the ability to cut through the chicanery of these times we live in.

  10. Thank you. God must have told you how was I feeling today after watching my very loving, kind 21-year-old son (who happens to be gay) bullied by his “macho” father who calls himself a Christian. May heart is truly broken for him.

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Janie}}}}}}}}}}}}

      I am so very sorry that the father bullies your son, instead of loving him unconditionally. Were I in that situation I fear I would have words for that dad.

    • Janie,
      How sad, would that the “macho” father realize that the most macho thing he could do would be to love his son, no matter. I have so much trouble understanding how a parent can behave toward their child in a bullying bigoted way. I guess we will have to pray that he gets ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to love.

      • Kathleen. Fundies are taught from an early age that they are not only responsible for themselves before God but that the fathers are responsible for every member of their family before God. This dad is thinking:

        “I have to do something fast. I might die any minute. My son is gay, and God is going to blame that on me. I have to do something quick and “ungay” him by whatever desperate means possible. Otherwise, this gay slip-up may be the one big toe over the line that sends me into the agony of Hell forever.”

        It is the FEAR thing I mentioned last night and the dad’s need to exercise DOMINION over his son to “degay” him.

        • I agree with what you say, I just disagree vehemently with their way of thinking. And I keep thinking if I continue to speak my truth, that the most macho thing a man can do is love his wife and children as they are, not as he wants them to be, and let them be their truthful self, that somewhere along the way someone may at least think about it. In the end that’s all I have, my truth. Peace

          • If you were that same man, what would you do if your wife was a hopeless alcoholic and also mentally ill in ways that led her to conclude that being drunk as a skunk all day long every day was the most wonderful place she had ever been in her entire life and she wanted to stay there forever and drink deeply from the joy of it—no matter how much it hurt everyone else in the family and damaged their growth and development?

            • I believe that if that is her truthful self she has big problems, needs help but my conclusion is that the children come first. We protect them. I come by that from experience, where children were not protected from the alcoholic step father because the mother put herself and her fears first. And the macho stepfather thought everyone had to do and be as he said. I would say that all I was trying to say was that macho is a lot more than being “Manly”. Not very good at expressing myself sometimes. Be patient. Not everyone falls into the same category. I also don’t believe one size fits all. Like I said above all else the children should come first.

            • I would add that you can find an example to just about anything that would defy the normal “rules”. That doesn’t make the premise wrong. The fundies are the ones with the hard and fast rules that allow no wiggle room. Just saying, Peace

  11. Thanks John!
    I suspect this kind of nurturing will be needed for some time but one thing I’m trying to achieve is knowing the issues of the day without getting bogged down by the negativity and incessant harping.

    The power of intention/attraction must zero in on that which moves us forward because dwelling on that which tears us apart will only get worse with attention to that which makes us feel bad.

  12. Folks. This post was especially important for me. I have a variety of negative things going on in my life right now—outside of the John Pavlovitz blog—and I am emotionally weak and at very low ebb because of them. In addition, I am a lifetime mental illness patient (clinical depression) who comes from a family (on my mother’s side) that has really bad genes that predispose family members to clinical depression, intense anxiety disorders, and paranoid schizophrenia. After some thought, I have come to the unavoidable conclusion that visiting the John Pavlovitz blog each day is making my clinical depression problems far worse than they need to be. My visits here turned out to be the final straw that broke this camel’s back. I started going downhill with the clinical depression the night Trump was elected President, and it has been a straight downhill spiral of daily sickness for me for the entire three weeks since he was inaugurated. As I told a Christian friend of mine (April Kelsey at the “Revolutionary Faith” blog), these have been three of the worst weeks I have had in all my 64 years of life on this Earth. So, I am leaving the John Pavlovitz blog for a while for health reasons—and maybe forever—if I should decide that along the way. For those few of you who actually love me and like the things I write about, the “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism” blog will remain open with frequent new posts. If you need to get in touch with me for some odd reason, my email address is tcbkjbbrown@comcast.net.

    How did this straw break the camel’s back? They say we always get into trouble when we break the rules we establish for ourselves to keep ourselves emotionally and physically healthy. I broke a rule that I established for myself nearly 20 years ago. That rule is to never argue matters of faith directly with a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical—not because they are righteous and God is on their side—but because they are taught in church from the earliest moments of their lives to always be RIGID and UNMOVABLE with anyone who does not believe exactly and precisely as they do on all points of faith. Arguing with them on matters of faith (or politics these days) truly is like arguing with a tree stump—a frustrating exercise in utter futility—and it never goes anywhere good or ends anywhere good. I forgot my own well-laid rule on this—and I am suffering daily now because of it—and now need a long string of doctor visits and more medication (no doubt) because of this failure of mine.

    Finally, I have some things to say to some specific people: Leslie, Zaklog the Deplorable, The Lonesome Catholic, A-Hole Anonymous, and the other mean-spirited fundies here. In my honest opinion, each one of you specializes in delivering pain, destruction, and steadfast hatred to anyone and everyone who does not believe precisely as you do on matters of the Christian faith. I maintain my belief that you are working hard each day against the Kingdom of Heaven rather than for it. My leaving the John P. blog IS NOT an answer to your prayers, and it is not a victory for you. Rather, it is an answer to my prayers, those of my family, and perhaps the prayers of some of the people here who are not fundies. I DO NOT need or want your prayers on any subject, Indeed, I would like to make a formal prayer request here of John P. and those others here who like my posts. Please pray to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that every fundie here who prays for me (be it for me or against me) will have that prayer GO UNHEARD in the Kingdom of Heaven. If Heaven is going to be filled to overflowing with people like the blind, deaf, unreasonable, and hateful fundies who visit the John P. blog, then Heaven will be no better than Hell itself. All I have left to say to you fundies is the same thing women say to their rapist as he approaches with his knife: “No!!!! Stay away from me!!!” I leave all you fundies behind with the same message the Apostle Paul left with regard to Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14).

    I have an excellent new post up on the “Flee from Christian Fundamentalism” blog if anyone would like to read it:


    For Gloriamarie, Kathy, Anonymous, and all of the others here who actually do understand Jesus, love him, follow him daily, and walk toward the bright lights of forever, I leave you with a ((((((((BIG HUG))))))))). Defend the Christian faith and keep up your good fight against all of the evil and darkness that masquerades as Jesus Christ in our world today—particular the fundie evil and darkness.

  13. ” than a pissed-off, heartbroken human being who refuses to stop giving a damn. ”

    ” giving a damn. ”

    “better get your spiritual s**t together”

    What is more sad? Someone who uses language like this who calls himself a pastor, or the people who follow him?

    Ephesians 4:29
    “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

    Colossians 3:8 (NIV)
    “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

    • Matthew 7:6. The swine tramples the pearls thrown at him and then turns again to rend Pastor Pavlovitz for daring to pursue the other 95 percent of the gospel message that Jesus has plainly laid out—but is ignored by you fundies on a daily basis. Christianity is not about rules, laws, and moralism. If you ever bothered to read that Bible of yours rather than thump it, you would know that.

        • “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. ”

          Then get your own mind out of the gutter before you object to anyone else. Maybe pay attention to the entire content and not three words.

        • My bad, my apologies, and please allow a clarification:

          John’s heart is a diamond. Words of encouragement are pearls. To encourage the brokenhearted is a beautiful thing. Profanity is not. Potty words stink. So, if you have a bowl full of diamonds and pearls, why add little stinkers to it? Spoils the presentation if you ask me.

          • You have already repeatedly made this point. Are you a one issue person and scatological language is your issue? This may be the last time I read anything you post here.

        • You missed the whole thing by concentrating on three words. Wow!! Wonder what else you are missing along the way with such narrow vision.

    • Forgive him.


      You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

      Romans 2:1

  14. John Pavlovitz. I am not all that upset that you did not post my good-bye message. However, I am very upset that you took down my unposted words before I could make a copy of them for my personal records here at home. I would like to kindly ask you to return those words to me at my e-mail address, which is as follows.


    I consider those words to be my intellectual property, and I want them back.

  15. “And it is the one thing the heartless people are threatened by, because they know that there is no more formidable adversary than a pissed-off, heartbroken human being who refuses to stop giving a damn. This is who you are.”


    • John P. I would love to see you put the full quote above in calligraphy on one of your posters. I suspect it would be one of your most loved and best sellers—if you ever sell this stuff as posters for sale.

    • Mia. Read Matthew 23. It is all about:

      “And it is the one thing the heartless people are threatened by, because they know that there is no more formidable adversary than a pissed-off, heartbroken human being who refuses to stop giving a damn. This is who HE WAS and IS.”

  16. My prayer is that Pavlovitz dives deeper into the scripture. Many have stood for the issues that he stands for, only to conclude later that there is a more sensible area between the extremes of “Stone them” and “No, Ordain them”. That sensible area starts and ends with “love them”. If LGBT were a nation, then its defectors are multitudinous. Plenty of ordained ministers who once chose the gay identity. Plenty. Ever since Paul set foot in Corinth, c. 51 AD.

    Romans was written before the Gospels of Luke and John, not after. (perhaps during the same time frame that Mark was being written) Matthew was the first of the Gospels to be written. Likely preceded by the book of James.

          • LOL!! Thx! If prizes were awarded for making arrogant know-it-all statements, I would probably have trophy case: to my shame. 🙁

            I was reading Eusebius’ “The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine” translated by G.A. Wiliamson.
            Book 2 p. 71
            “Compiled by [Eusebius] from the works of Clement, Tertullian, Josephus and Philo..)

            “So brightly shone the light of true religion on the minds of Peter’s hearers that, not satisfied with a single hearing or with the oral teaching of the divine message, they resorted to appeals of every kind to induce Mark (whose gospel we have) as he was a follower of Peter, to leave them in writing a summary of the instruction they had received by word of mouth, nor did they let him go till they had persuaded him, and thus became responsible for the writing of what is know as the Gospel according to Mark. It is said that, on learning by revelation of the spirit what had happened, the apostle was delighted at their enthusiasm and authorized the reading of the book in the churches. Clement quotes the story in “Outlines Book VI, and his statement is confirmed by Bishop Papias or Hierapolis, who also points out that Mark is mentioned by Peter in his first epistle, which he is said to have composed in Rome itself, as he himself indicates when he speaks of the city figuratively as Babylon:

            “She (the church) who is in Babylon, chosen like yourselves, send you greeting, and so does my son [in the faith] Mark.” I Peter 5:13
            Charles, my friend: I wonder: how many on this blog are getting their Bible ‘research’ from Wikipedia?

            For an eye opener, watch this: (take out spaces and paste in browser)

            ww w.facebo ok.com/no wyou see tv/vid eos/1118510 3281 85653 /

            At min:seconds 6:38 Former CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson discusses Wikipedia pages monitored by special interest groups. I myself have made corrections on wikipedia pages, only to find them reverted back within the hour. The ‘edit history’ page of “The Gospel of Matthew”, for example, is revealing.

            • Romans, I don’t understand what you have against expletives. Do you think it is sin? I understand the need for us to be perfect (as God is perfect) but we must also be honest as human beings. This is not an excuse, rather I have come to understand that we don’t live in a bubble of protection and blessed living. Many of us come form different backgrounds and live under considerable duress.

              Sometimes a colourful word expresses that feeling or state of being better than any other word. It gets the message across clearly and efficiently. Is it sin to be honest about how you feel ?Do you agree God expects us to be genuine? This forum is public and many people from all different stripes come here not just intellectuals and the puritanical. If we made a fuss about every word someone says, we will miss the point they are trying to make, and John Pavlovitz has as much prerogative to express how he feels, or what he thinks, as anyone else.

                • “John Pavlovitz has as much prerogative to express how he feels, or what he thinks, as anyone else.”

                  Indeed. But its not becoming of someone claiming to be a Christian, and certainly not a Pastor of Christians.

                  Titus 1:7-9
                  “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

                  Additionally, he’s not holding firmly to the ‘trustworthy message as. it. has. been. taught.”

                  My prayer is that that message (in scripture) jumps off the page to John P.

              • “Sometimes a colourful word expresses that feeling or state of being better than any other word. It gets the message across clearly and efficiently.”

                I guess preachers here, there, and yon, in order to increase effectiveness, should consider a few f-bombs here and there, just to make sure they get the point across? Hmmm. What do you think?

            • My thing about Mark did not come from Wikipedia. I know what you mean about it though. The Wikipedia article on Rousas Rushdoony once painted him as the villain that he truly is. However, His Christian reconstructionist followers appear to frequently go on-line in Wikipedia to whitewash over his evil heart and make him look like the 13th disciple of Jesus. Truth is: The man was an utter ass and a waste of skin and breathing air. And that is being generous to the man.

              • Very interesting. I looked up Rushdoony on Wikipedia. Seems like a saint to me! (Kidding, my friend, only kidding). Yes I remember learning about the existence of “Christian Reconstructionism” in the mid 1980’s. Frightening.

                “Truth is: The man was an utter ass and a waste of skin and breathing air. And that is being generous to the man.”

                So kind of you!

  17. Thank you for your words today John.

    For all those on this page today who are hurting or suffering I am sending healing thoughts and prayers to you.

  18. John P, you are the best. You reach millions of us that love you. And that’s one reason why you get trolled a lot. Few are as eloquent or reach so many. I am glad you seem undeterred by opposition and let your powerful words keep on shining!

  19. Thank you John for this encouragement to continue to move forward as formidable adversaries of hate, bigotry, and indifference -as we are called by our personal faiths to be. Thank you also for writing from a heart inspired by Gods love. Comments to some of your writings bring many devoted hearts, along with some who can read the words but can’t see the message, and some who hold the bible chapter and verse in front of them like a shield keeping them from having to engage with the messy realities and inconsistencies of humanity. Thanks for plain language in urging us to put heart and hands to it, to be ready to be wounded on behalf of another, and to refuse to look away.

    • I like what JP wrote… but I disagree that our hearts are ‘weapons’.

      I think God’s word is the best weapon against the Adversary.

      • I doubt that. It is my understanding from Baptist preachers that Satan has a mastered knowledge of scripture and can quote it better than any Baptist sword driller who ever lived. Just sayin’.

        • [I wouldn’t go by what a preacher says.]

          Sure, Satan has knowledge of God’s written Word, but in every instance he stands in rebellion against it, not in Faith.

          …’did God really say?’ ..(and then he adds fake news)… ‘you must not eat from ANY tree in the Garden?’

          Jesus used God’s Word against Satan, and it was effective against Temptation and all fiery darts.

          –‘It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone’.
          –‘It is written, ‘Worship the LORD your God and serve Him only.’
          –‘It is written, ‘Do not put the LORD your God to the test.’

          • In the story Satan was testing the relationship Jesus had with God the Father- trying to put a wedge between him and God- trying to separate Jesus from God. We have to be careful to not discourage or despise God’s children nor put a stumbling block in their way.

            it is written…

            “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

            • I agree, we’re not to discourage or put any stumbling blocks in our brethren’s way. I’m on the very narrow path so as to not stumble myself or anyone around me.

  20. It is time for a music break. This is a message for all the heartbroken Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals out there who can no longer live under the negativism and oppression they feed you at church. The following is what Jesus meant in John 10:10, but to do this, you have to understand that the real Jesus of the New Testament was a First Century radical and Progressive—and that “against the grain should be a way of life.” Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are the modern day “grain.” Here is how to bust out—and live your life more abundantly as Jesus intended for you to do from the foundation of time:

    • Thank you Charles. I need that reminder. I needed a refresher my very own personal experience.

      Yes, and love like it’s the last thing you’ll do. If He came at this very moment, what would I want Him to hear me saying. What would I want Him to see me doing? Loving, by all means.

  21. John- this morning was the first time I visited your site, driven there by an unrelated article about you. I’m agnostic at best, some days I think I should just fess up to being atheist. I see so few examples of religious leaders who inspire me to believe- who aren’t drowning in hypocrisy. This post, the understanding that you show, gives me hope that one day I will see differently. This post gave me life today and that you were able to put words to what is in my heart was appreciated beyond measure.

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{Amy}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

      Welcome. I hope you’ll stick around and share your thoughts. There are those of here who really appreciate John P. And then there are the trolls. They don’t like their reflections in the mirror that is John P’s blog so they lash out at John. Please do yourself a favor, ignore them so you can relish John’s thoughts and words.

    • Amy. Look at Jesus. Get to know Him through reading his word, praying his word, and meditating on his word. ‘The JOY of the Lord is my strength!’

    • Hi Amy. All atheists, agnostics, “nones,” LGBTQ people, poor people, sick people, hungry people, and other “unwanted” social and societal outcasts are welcome here at the John Pavlovitz blog. No pressure. We do have some Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical scoundrels that come here to be mean-spirited to people, be disruptive, and point the gnarled old witch’s index finger at all us sinners here. They are mostly people who avoid looking in their own mirrors lest they see themselves for what they really are—like in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

  22. John, thanks so so much. We are doing what we can to counteract the hatred, bigotry and greed that is characterizing our political arena. But there are times when we are overwhelmed with grief and our hearts feel as though they are breaking. We have been resisting the temptation to close off. Don’t want to do that. Have thought that we might have to leave the country if we are to survive mentally, emotionally and physically. Don’t want to do that. But, boy, it is so hard being this open. Your article helps give us strength and courage to continue. Much gratitude.

    • Joe you came back or have you been here the whole time? I am happy you are ok and that you must have had much more important things to do.

      Although I vote Democrat I am not a sore loser or a hater or a bigot. I do admit to being a little prejudiced against the wealthy and powerful who use their wealth and power to do harm. Other than that, any power or wealth they have earned righteously they certainly deserve.

      I am saddened and frightened of all the hate out there from both sides.

      I am happy you are working to make American great. I have until this last year always thought American was great even through the ups and downs and at my age I have lived through plenty.

      People here say you have numerous names. Are you Don the hero veteran of the Vietnam War? Are you Anonymous who was so dismissive? I hope you are not Zaglog. I tried to reach out to him once and he was quite off putting. You were much more pleasant.

      • Your sons sound great to me which speaks to you as their father. They do not need to listen to a 19 year old who has all the answers without ever living on his own or being responsible for anyone but himself. Although my grandson has told me that someday (somehow?) he is going to be very, very rich. So there is that.

        We will never agree about many things. We can agree that we love our sons and our families, the beauty of God’s creations, and all the other blessings we have been given.

        I am sorry you cannot find anything fun here. I think I am loads of fun and there are others here who find joy in many different things also.

        It is good that you share your pearls of wisdom although there have been times, I admit, you have over shared way too many in a hurtful way and have gotten on my last nerve.

        It is good to know that you are well, and that when you are not here, you are just elsewhere sharing your pearls.

        • Dear Joe,
          You gave your boys a foundation. For what it’s worth – this matters.
          I suspect my father harbored similar reservations about me in my youth.

          Be of good spirit – they will find their way and come back to you as men with stories of love, regrets, mistakes and thanks for you being their dad.

        • Yes, I knew you were joking. I thought I reflected that in my comments. Sigh

          I saw your sense of humor early on and that is why I wasn’t scared off. I think the first thing I told you was that I appreciated your sense of humor.

          Your boys are strong enough to have a mind of their own. I hope you are not disappointed in that. I have never seen another Catholic come across as you do sometimes. Maybe you were just too tough of an act to follow.

      • Dear Joe Catholic,
        Respectfully, I kindly recommend, in the future, your charity be directed towards organizations with actual legitimate needs. In my opinion, being walked on here is less insulting than the carpet being walked on – that you directly or indirectly funded.

        Moreover, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for you to keep in mind (though I would caution skepticism) the growing social security disability resume your interacting with – dyslexia, bipolarism, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and for good measure, carpal tunnel syndrome.

        Arguably, euthanasia and abortions would save California taxpayers a lot of money on health insurance.

        With respect to your perceptions – this is blog, whose owner possesses – let’s just say, a unique world view – and employs rhetorical tactics – one of my favorites – the “bait and switch”.

        Additionally, and more than often – the secular is diffused with religion, ethics, logical fallacies and emotional appeals.
        This is a potent mixture and one specifically used to create tension and of course, argument. For example, would you agree – a great deal of the commentaries are driven by an “us vs them” theme?

        If so, it should be no surprise, your opinion may generate a vitriol response – especially, if it successfully contradicts the commentary and the similar world view of his followers. True in some but not all cases, this is perceived as a threat – your expectation for empathy quickly becomes meaningless.

        In my opinion, you have presented your opinion(s) with consistence and have avoided descending into adolescent crap traps.

        Perhaps you would have more fun without expectations of returned civility, understanding or your own personal need to convince.

        I encourage you you – don’t give up – you never know – people are generally smart and have a way of choosing on their own what is wisdom and what is madness.

        • Dear Joe,
          I’m uncertain if the commentator is presenting his case in good faith. In my opinion, this can be seen as a moral or ethical question of intent. As such, it stands to reason – any expectation you may have of reflection by the writer, is misplaced as it assumes the writer has a responsibility to the expectations of an unknown audience.

          However, I do believe he has an agenda and purposefully writes titles and commentaries, designed to drive traffic to his site. So be it. Just be aware of the language techniques and tactics – in other words – be a critical thinker and remember this is a blog….not a holy place occupied by a prophet.

          I place little value on a person calling themselves “pastor” as history is chocked full of people claiming some divine spiritual authority when in fact they are something else and usually much worse.

          There’s a fair amount of research on the characteristics of leaders in “sects”. Guess which tactic is prevalent and used most often as a group inhibitor or facilitator ? You got it – “us vs them”.

          Regardless, I encourage you to stand strong. Challenge yourself and your principles. Measure your position by the strength of the disagreement – and relax, mediocrity eventually reveals itself.

          One caution – this approach is not appropriate if you suffer from low self esteem.

          You know, it’s possible to be wrong – this is where things get tricky – what are you going to do with this new revelation? Ignore it, fight it or try and make sense of it in your world view?

          Last, yes.
          Which is not to say this person is not mentally and physically ill.
          Again, it is best for others to decide for themselves.

  23. Folks. I would kindly like to make a request. There are so many “Anonymous” people here with the gray quilt gravatar that I have no idea who I am speaking to anymore when I write a response. Could you people please choose a fake name for yourself and insert it at the bottom of your reply (scroll down). Your e-mail address is ALWAYS kept confidential and you DO NOT have to have a website or blog of your own entered to post. With the names, you can call yourself anything you like: Crocodile Man, Snake Woman, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Roofus Doofus, etc. Just put down a name and stick to it so we can all know who we are talking to. Thanks!!!

        • Previously, the scavengers called out & slandered (dozens of times), any who used fake names — this went on for months on end.

          My 2 cents: ‘We have no compulsion to control you. Use what ever name you wish to, as many times as you wish to. Anonymous is fine. When I respond to your post, I’ll just hit ‘reply’. ‘

          • I remember this – when I choose and used a moniker – I was then accused and as I recall – in some most unpleasant interactions – of being somebody else….so, for now….I’ll just be no one and everyone or is that just too dismissive?

  24. I could not have expressed this better myself. Having recently experienced three losses over a two week period of time, I found myself trying to cut my feelings off – and everything flooded back a few days ago. Grief has no timeline, and because you do not understand that fact that someone is grieving a loss does not give you the right to tell you that you are wrong for feeling it (two of my losses were pets). This affirms that my heart has the right to feel the loss of being broken, and I thank you for writing this.

  25. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{kittymom22}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    I am so very sorry for the losses you have endured. Please accept my condolences. You do indeed have every right to everything you are feeling.

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate that, really. Loss is loss, regardless of whether it is a pet, a person, a job, health. In many ways, I have lost all, but now is the time for me to really deal with it and allow it to come out!

        • I am kittymom22 because I have 2 left. Luke and Daisy were adopted when they were 4 months old. They are now 3. My remaining family does not understand, so I share with the fur babies. Luke will lay in my lap when I am sad. Daisy will lay next to me, when I nap. I am seeing a new therapist next week, I hope that will help.

          • Well, for what it is worth to you, kittymom22, I understand about loss and suffering All Too Well, at least within my own personal experience. In the last 20 years I’ve lost five cats, one in the last twelve months. Their ages varied between 21 and 15, so we had a long time together. I’ve adopted 2 who love each other devotedly.

            I also hope the new therapist will help.

  26. I’m reminded of Don McClean’s Starry Night lyrics to Vincent Van Gogh. “But I could have told you Vincent, This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you” .
    Beautiful hearts must be protected. We find courage and strength in cherishing our own tears. We’re the lucky ones.
    Thank you for your words, John Pavlovitz. You inspire me.

  27. How does one reverse the hardened heart? My greatest fear is that I will not grieve for people I will lose and my thinking is that maybe I’ve already considered that they are gone and my grieving has passed. My parents always told me I was a selfish child when I was growing up. I never believed that was true until recently (I’m 53 years old now) while attending a funeral and realizing that I just didn’t care. I have no hate towards anyone – no anger.

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