Broken heart

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If you are in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for any significant amount of time, you will likely come across the phrase “broken heart and contrite spirit”. The scripture most commonly used regarding this phrase is 3 Ne 9:20:

Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit

But what does “a broken heart’ mean?

The popular usage of the phrase is summed up on Wikipedia: a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one. I am leery of the idea that this is what Jesus meant, that we wouldn’t be baptised by fire unless we lose a loved one.

So what does it mean then? Consider these two facets of farming.

“Breaking a horse” is common phrase. Wild horses do not let persons ride themselves. They need to be trained to accept riders. Thus a broken horse accepts its master.

“Breaking the ground” is another phrase referring to the entire practise of tilling, ploughing, and harrowing. Basically, it’s what a farmer does to prepare the soil for planting. Thus broken ground accepts planted seeds.

I wonder then if using these two examples, we can define a broken heart as a heart that accepts its master (as in Jesus) and the gospel seed (see Alma 32).

3 thoughts on “Broken heart

  1. I think a broken heart means humiltiy. See ce D. Porter, “A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 31–32.

  2. I think you are onto something there Kim.

    However, we also use broken to imply something is not in proper working order. In our case a broken heart is a spiritual necessity. I will suggest that broken hearts do not remain lacking forever they will eventually be filled.

    To use Alma’s analogy a seed growing in a broken heart will begin to swell.

    Your comparison to breaking ground makes sense for those of us with hard hearts that must be broken like the soil or a stubborn and undisciplined horse.

    You quoted 3 Nephi 9:20.
    On what altar do we offer this sacrifice and is a contrite spirit any different than a broken heart?

    The use of farming analogies is good because Jesus often made such comparisons himself because they were so accessible to most people.

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