Break up bangs.

Countless women over countless years have gone through a break up and decided to move forward from that break up by cutting bangs. Some even go as far as cutting all their hair off and getting a bob. I used to think the popularity of the bob hair cut in the 1920s had something to do with an entire generation trying to break up with the terrors and tragedies of WW1. Personally, I changed my handwriting after a season of heartbreak and disappointment. We all come to points in our lives where something big needs to change so we change something small to start things off.

I recently read back through 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament. I couldn’t help but thing of break up bangs after a while. Because it seemed that every time a good king in Israel or Judah came into power the first thing they would do was tear down all the high places and Asherah poles. Instead of cutting their hair to break up with idolatry, they cut down poles.

One of my favorite examples of this is King Hezekiah. He shows up in chapter 29, restores the temple and celebrates Passover. It must have been quite the party in Jerusalem that week. The bible describes that Passover, “There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayers reached heaven, His holy dwelling place.” (2 Chron. 30:26-27 NIV) There is something like 12 kings between Solomon and Hezekiah. That’s two or three generation’s worth of people in Israel and Judah putting off celebrating the Passover. Finally, here comes Hezekiah and he takes the initiative and foots the bill for this awesome celebration. The restoration of the worship of God brings joy to the people and catches the attention of God in heaven to their prayers.

The people were so moved by this time of worship they didn’t wait for Hezekiah to break up with idolatry. They did it themselves, “When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.” (2 Chron. 31:1) I can just imagine the crowd leaving Jerusalem and the Passover feast stirred in their very depths. The joy turning to talk, which then turned them to action, until they were a holy mob on a mission. A mission to remove every idol from the whole land. They had experienced God for themselves and did not want to return to the empty idol worship that had separated them from God in the first place.

I’m always so moved by this story. Moved to find any idols that might be in my life that I need to remove. When I look at the bible story, it seems so easy to confront the idols. They were made of real, tactile stuff. Wood and metal that could be cut up and burned away. They could be made with hands and destroyed with hands. Now it’s a little trickier, because the idols cropping up in my life are not made with hands, they are made within the heart.

It’s got me thinking about heartbreak in a whole new light. When I look back over my life, every major heartbreak has a direct correlation with a heart-idol, like the approval of others or money. The heartbreak usually followed prayers of renewed devotion to God. I would have an encounter with God that brought joy and restoration, like the Israelites under Hezekiah. I prayed for God to break off the idols in my life, and He answered. God answered my prayers with heartbreak – or rather, heart-idol break.

I didn’t always understand that God was removing idols at the time. I usually got pretty confused and upset from the heartbreak. I forgot that my idols had more to do with my heart than with my stuff. However, now I can see what was breaking in my heart were idols, and each break lead to greater freedom and intimacy with Jesus.

I’m not trying to glorify seasons of pain and loss. But I can honestly thank God for those seasons, and pray for His strength when I find myself in a new season of heartbreak. I also pray for the grace to see where the heart-idol breaks might be, so I can surrender the idols as well as the corresponding habits to God. Because idols made with the heart are broken with the heart.

-Etta Woods

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