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Leaning into Worship Even When You Have a Hurting Heart


Normally I am a girl who loves her worship. Set me up in the front row at church with the lights going and the praise pumping and I will be hands up, tears rolling, scream-singing the words (because I know them all). I’ve lived enough life to truly understand the cost of His grace, the depth of my sin, and the beauty of His love, so worship could last for hours and I would not complain.

But as I sat in Bible study listening to two beautiful girls leading that day, my heart was in rebellion, willing me to resist. I was agitated. Annoyed. I didn’t want to worship. I wasn’t feeling the moment or the praise.

Worship was not on my agenda.

My agenda felt dark and heavy, and for some unknown reason, I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to wallow. I was sad, having just said goodbye to my parents as they flew back to the home I haven’t visited in two long years. I was angry; feeling frustrated. Things were tense at home, and I was so tired of fighting through, trying to remain positive and strong when what I really felt was defeated and weak.

Standing there listening, I could feel my entire posture resisting, my arms were crossed tight across my body and my fists were clenched so hard my fingernails were cutting half-moons into my palms. I was closed off and resisting, consciously blocking the act of praise. I knew on one level that letting go and leaning in would be the best thing for my weary soul, but instead, I found myself pushing against the pain, pushing against the feelings welling up in my heart. Pushing against the tears flowing down my face. Pushing. Pushing. Pushing.

Yet the voices still sang:

“Dry bones awaken…”

The Lord is in this place…”

Oh, how I felt like dry bones. I was broken and hurting. My praise empty and my wounded heart resisting the act of worship. I did not want to praise when I felt so alone. I did not want to lean into worship when everything in me was pushing against it.

Everything felt so broken. Why should I sing?

Everything felt so broken. Why should I sing? How could I praise when I felt so empty?

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But my heart, it knows its Maker. And true to the words, my bones began to awaken. Worship, it turns out, was just what my aching soul needed. My friends gathered around, hands on shoulders, praying and singing together—everything that my wounded heart needed to feel God in that place.

It turns out that what I was pushing so hard against was just what my heart needed to lean into the most.

“When we sing who He is, we remember who we are.” —Jonathan Hessler.

It struck me in that moment that worship is not about me.

It’s not about the state of my heart or my mind. It’s not about what’s going on around me or what’s missing in my life. It’s not about the good, the bad, or the ugly of anything I walked into that room carrying.

Simply put, it’s about God.

And God is bigger than all of the things I brought in with me. He’s bigger than my objections to worship and He’s bigger than my stubborn heart pushing against the act of praise.

Leaning in to worship or prayer or service when things aren’t perfect is the greatest act of self-care we can commit. It allows us to take the lens off of ourselves and refocus our point of view, reminding our hearts that God, the maker of heaven and earth, has everything under control. It takes our feelings of frustration and fear and turns them loose against a love so great and so big that it will never back down in the battle for our souls. And it will always win.

My heart resisted, but God pushed through. And worship, surrounded by women I love and cherish, was the key I needed to unlock a heart closed off to gratitude and faith and trust. Worship was medicine to my soul.

Leaning in to worship, even when I wanted to push against it, freed my soul from the bondage of this earth and reminded me I am His, and He is good. Always.

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Leaning in to worship or prayer or service when things aren’t perfect is the greatest act of self-care we can commit.

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Meaghan is the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet. An East Coast transplant living in Texas, she spends most of her time wrangling 3 kids, her husband, and a giant dog. When she finally gets a free minute you can either find her tucked in on the couch with a good book or in the kitchen, attempting to create magical meals (and sometimes succeeding).

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