Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography
Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

“Your heart is a Dixie cup, and his grace is the Mediterranean Sea.”
– Max Lucado

Lately I have been feeling the full weight of the all the world’s beauty and cruelty, destruction and rebirth, joy and agony and I think my might heart might burst from the weight of it all, overflowing with a messy goo of human emotion. My heart is a tiny thimble that couldn’t possibly hold all of it.

We are constantly confronted with a raw humanity that is laid bare and shoved into our hearts, pushed into every nook and cranny of our souls. We are asked to deal with so much death and struggle, fear and insecurities, misfortunes and misdeeds while at the same time we are given so much love and compassion, kindness and forgiveness, mercy and tenderness that our hearts cannot be expected to contain it all.

The trouble is we live in a society that tries to avoid an overflowing heart. We look away when confronted with gritty messiness and brutal reality. We minimize our joy and sweet delights. We silence our doubts and dreams. We shut down our insecurities and anxieties and fears.

The depth and breadth of the love and cruelty, suffering and hope, sorrow and joy that I see and feel on a daily basis leaves my heart in a state of constant overflowing. There are cancer diagnoses and surgeries, gang shootings and massive school closings, poverty and hunger, bombings and floods, divorces and separations. And there are contented sighs as I tuck tiny bodies into bed at night, the sound of my niece’s tiny fingers tapping the piano keys over the phone, conversations between 6-year-olds on the way to school, anniversary celebrations, peaceful walks in the park on a Sunday morning, long conversations with a dear friend, one more “I love you” before drifting off to sleep.

All of it fills me up and tears me apart until my heart is near overflowing. Many times it comes spilling forth in salty tears; sometimes in misplaced anger or irritation; other times in overwhelming gratitude.

Maybe I’m the only one who lives with a perpetually overflowing heart. Maybe I’m just an overly dramatic, highly sensitive, and emotionally-charged person and others don’t feel this constant tension on the barriers around their heart. Maybe I was born without the protective covering that others were given, the armor that lets them move through the world more calmly and passively. Maybe it’s an internal character flaw of mine that I live with a constantly overflowing heart.

But, quite frankly, I’m not sure that I’d want to live any other way. Because an unprotected and overflowing heart is one in which Grace can come pouring out in tidal waves of gratitude and kindness, appreciation and connection, generosity and compassion.

Maybe the world needs just a little more of that.

Do you have an overflowing heart? What causes it to overflow?


Special thanks to Angie McMonigal Photography for providing the photo above as part of our Photo Inspiration Challenge. You can see more of her work on her website or Facebook page.

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  1. I too think I was born without that protective armor. If you’re in pain, I feel it too – it’s how I’ve always been. A few years back I finally let go and accepted that that’s who I am.

    • Christie

      Good for you! I am learning to do the same.

  2. Hi there,
    It is wonderful to meet you. I am following you from Michelle deRusha.
    Yes – overflowing hearts – with thankfulness, and praying for those who are hurting. But never fearing because we know Jesus has conquered death.
    Blessings to you,

  3. Dear Christine
    With all the bad things that happen around us every day, we still have the wonder of living in our Lord Jesus through it all and that surely causes our hearts to overflow with love and joy!
    Blessings from Michelle’s

  4. I hear you, totally. Feels everything deeply? Absolutely. Highly sensitive? Definitely, yes. But, like you, I’m not sure that I would want to be any other way. I think that extra sensitivity is what makes me who I am, and it most certainly makes me a better writer. I think that in order to feel an abundance of grace and gratitude, you also have to feel more suffering and sorrow.

    • Christie

      You are so right about helping the writing process. For many years, I didn’t have an outlet for all the emotions so they were misdirected. I am thankful to have found a way to channel the overflow.

  5. Ditto what Samantha said. Your overflowing heart is not a character flaw. It’s a strength. I can imagine that you are one of the best friends a person could have. So supportive and caring. You’re certainly one of the best blogging friends. How lucky are those who can sit across the table from you and swap stories.

    • Christie

      Awww, thank you so much. I have an overflowing heart just reading your comment.

    • Christine, I agree with Samantha and Steph….Your overflowing heart is not a character flaw, but a strength. I have no doubts that you must be a wonderful friend to many. I am blessed by what you’ve shared today. The world does need more overflowing hearts. “overflowing heart is one in which Grace can come pouring out in tidal waves of gratitude and kindness, appreciation and connection, generosity and compassion.”
      Grateful to make my way to your site today.

  6. The ability to feel a full range of emotions in every ounce of our beings is the greatest gift and one of the toughest burdens, especially for those who like me worked really hard to shove down emotions for so many years. I’m grateful today for every one of those emotions because it’s a marvelous ride that I wouldn’t trade for anything. At least most days. This is a lovely, abundant piece, Christine. Exactly what I needed tonight! Thank you!

    • Christie

      What a great way of putting it! “Greatest gifts and toughest burdens” – love it!

  7. Having an overflowing heart often feels like a weakness. We seem to be more susceptible to the pains and joys of this world. We are more vulnerable, more eaily hurt or dismayed. But I have learned over the last few years that though my sensitivity might sometimes mean people have to handle me with care, I will always handle them with even more. That sensitivity makes me a better friend, sister, wife, mom. We are not only sensitive to pain, though. We are also sensitive to the joys and positive stuff as well. My friends know I’m the one to come to for encouragement, to share good news and to see the brighter side in things. Like you, I love being sensitive. It can be a tough burnden to bare at times, but the world needs those of us who feel things.

    • Christie

      What a great attitude. It is definitely a tough burden at times (like today, for instance), but you’re right – it can make us better friends, sisters, wives and mothers.

  8. I feel too much, too. So much so, that I can’t read news on children dying, on people getting killed, whether by accident, or by acts of terrorism or God. Children, especially, I suppose because I have my own now. I just cannot bear it. It breaks my heart to imagine how the parents feel. It hurts to think that those children will never reach certain ages, do certain things.

    Having said that, having an overflowing heart makes more compassionate people of us. We just need to be able to armor ourselves.

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