When Your Heart Hurts and You Turn Ugly

My parents always told me I wore my heart on my sleeve. And I’ve often been tenderly teased by my friends for being too sensitive. Both are true descriptions of the way God has made me. I do wear my heart on my sleeve and I am too sensitive. I guess that’s why I bawl my eyes out at a Hallmark movie, even when I know the ending will inevitably be happy.  Oh those tears aren’t such a big deal, and they certainly add comic relief to an otherwise sobbing-mess, especially when my husband knows the exact moment he should pass the Kleenex in my direction.

Beyond my beloved Hallmark movies, I feel deeply for those I love. I ache in my thoughts over situations I can’t fix. I long to bring restoration and joy back into the lives of those broken.

And yet, I’m not the Savior. I’m not the Redeemer. I’m not the Restorer.

I know who is. Jesus. My Lord.

But too many times I forget to run to Him and lay my weary burdens at the cross. Tweet:

Lay your burdens down...

Instead, I unknowingly bury my emotion into my heart and I’m left feeling like a puzzle with missing pieces.  I desperately want to finish the puzzle, but I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. So I push the puzzle aside in frustration and focus one what I think I can finish-control-accomplish-make-better.

Tweet: Could it be that when a sensitive-heart woman stuffs her emotions it leads to short-fused ugliness? http://ctt.ec/1udcy+ @elisapulliamBut could it be that when a sensitive-heart woman stuffs her emotions it leads to short-fused ugliness?


I start cleaning. And folding clothes. And running the vacuum. And barking orders at the kids to clean up their rooms, when only a few days ago I walked into the same disaster and it didn’t bother me one iota. I gripe at my husband for working too many hours. I moan about the unfairness all that is on my plate. I hone in on imperfections in myself, and strive to fix ’em up real quick.  I pull a sharp-tongued lecture out of my back pocket, shocking the kids with a reprimand they never saw coming.

When I can’t fix the real heart pains swirling around my life, I fall into “fix-everything-else” mode. Sure, there’s the perk of a clean house, but is it worth it if I’ve made a mess of every relationship in the process?

When your heart hurts and you turn ugly...

So what should I do when my heart hurts and I turn ugly?

Is there any solution, for a heart-feeler like me, when I am too sad for words and can’t fix any of it?  I used to think that if I just let my emotions out, I’d feel better.  I value authenticity and transparency, so talking about it seemed like a good solution, until I realized that my friends were never prepared to handle my burdens or solve my problems.

When I first started blogging, I’d share every bit of the story in order to help process through the pain — but back then {can you remember the days before Facebook and Twitter}, my posts were private. No one knew me or the people in my life, so it was safe…for a time. But if I’d write about what’s going on behind the screen in my life now, I’m sure I’d betray the hearts of those I deeply love.

So I stay quiet while I’m online about how sad I am at times.  It’s not that I’m trying to pretend life’s okay or paint a Pinterest-perfect board.  It’s simply that the things that make me sad are not my story to tell.   God has ordain it so that I am to walk through these heart-heavy situations with those I love — privately.  Oh mercy!  I don’t do private!  I’m a heart-sleeve girl.

It isn’t just about me staying quiet, publicly, however. It is also about learning how to quietly place my restless heart before God, especially when I’m at home.

It is with my family that my hurting heart turns ugly most often and causes the most regret.

I know I’m not alone in this experience, and so maybe that is why I feel led to confess it to you.

Are you a woman that turns ugly on your family when you heart hurts, too?

I understand, sister.

But God doesn’t want us to live like this — spewing ugly when we’re supposed to be overflowing with His hope and love.

Yes, we’re heart sleeve-girls looking for God’s healing touch on those we love. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The problem is when we take it into our own hands and refuse to trust the One who can rescue and restore each of those burdens.  God longs for us to depend more and more on Him rather than in seeing us fix everyone’s problems. 

Could it be that He made us sensitive so that we may become women of prayer, laying our burdens before Him and allowing Him to do His work beautifully in His timing?

Could it be that He made us heart-bearers, not of our own story but of the one He is writing in us and through us for His glory?

So will you join me in yielding to His work His way, heart-sleeve sister?

It’s time to lay down our ugly….the ugly that comes from those burdens we weren’t meant to carry…and trust the Lord to bear it all for us.

I’ll pray for you and if you wouldn’t mind, would you pray for me, too!




  1. I so appreciate your vulnerability and wisdom, Elisa. I am with you here, in every word. And I love this: “It isn’t just about me staying quiet, publicly, however. It is also about learning how to quietly place my restless heart before God, especially when I’m at home.” Yes, these restless hearts of ours have a Home, have a safe place where they can stay and be beautiful and strong for our family. What an important post for this season. Thank you, friend.

    • Jennifer, you’re Loop words always remind me of that precious HOME I have in Christ. Thank you, once again, for the reminder and encouragement, friend!

  2. I love this! It’s so important to honor other people’s stories. Sometimes it’s “not my story to tell.”

    We live in a culture that seems to want to announce every miniscule detail of our lives, but I think you speak great wisdom here … To honor someone’s privacy is not the same thing as “hiding” or “not being vulnerable.”

    Beautiful post, Elisa.

  3. I love your transparency and great advice! Just today, I had a mini-melt down (are any melt-downs ever “mini”?) when I encountered something small. But the small thing what the straw that broke the camel’s back, you know? Anyway, it is so important to come to the Lord when we are feeling overloaded. He is the best Counselor and will never tire of listening to us! I’m so thankful for His love!

    Blessings, Joan

    • Oh Joan, I know what you mean about mini and not-so-mini meltdowns. Praise the Lord He can handle them all!

  4. Elisa, for a minute there, I felt like you were talking about me! Thank you for this beautiful article.., it is a reminder that we should cast our cares to the Lord, no matter how small, because only God is the answer to everything, big or small.

    • Debie, that is too funny. I think there are many like us. And that verse — to cast our cares — well, it is one of my favorite because of what it tells us to do and what it promises — that God cares for us! Praise the Lord!

  5. Hi

    I just stumbled upon your blog after a very difficult day today – I’m sure God led me here.
    I thought I was the only person who felt like this. Thank you so much for your healing, encouraging words. I’ve subscribed to your blog and pray that you will continue to be a blessing to women like me. Jane, England, UK

    • Oh my, Jane, I’m praising God for His leading and purpose in your life. You’re not alone, sister. We are in this together. I’ll be praying for you tonight — England stole my heart in college, by the way. That’s we’re Jesus became my Savior. May He be your fullness and peace, too!

  6. I think you wrote this for me! I can’t say thank you enough for this!

  7. I can so relate to the fix everything mode and how ugly it gets. Thanks for your honesty and clear advice, Elisa.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Have a blessed Christmas and New Year.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  8. After reading more of your stuff, I think we are twins! Ha! Thank you for writing encouragement so no one feels alone!

    • So glad to “meet” you Clarissa! It is amazing how we can completely identify with someone else, and yet no one in our immediate family or friend group is anything like us. Glad to know I have a twin out there!

  9. This sounds so much like me. I am so glad I am not the only one who goes through this. I don’t have family, but I work around people all day and they get the brunt of my ugliness. thanks

  10. Hi Elisha. I want to thank you so much for sharing and let you know you are an answer to prayer. I understand myself so much better now and know how to react when I am wearing my feelings on my sleeve, rather than let my ugliness out. I felt like I was the only one like this, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t letting God have control but my emotions were rampant. It is such a relief to know I am not the only one dealing with this and that there is victory in Jesus! I don’t know why I would want others to feel like this but it is a relief!! Thank you again.

    • Roxy, I am so glad this confession met you right where you are and has given you hope in the Lord.

  11. Oops, Elisa! I am sorry I misspelled above.

  12. I am having a tough evening and sobbing in bed whilst I google “my heart hurts” and your page comes up. I am just how you described yourself. I want to thank you so much for your post here. God has to be the problem solver not me! Thank you thank you! This helps so much since I am going through such a tough season!
    I will pray for you please pray for me too!

  13. Thank you for this! God’s timing is just right! Prayer is definitely needed here and I will definitely pray for you as well.

  14. This is soo me. Thank you for showing me I’m not alone in this. There is so much going on in my life right now that I am immensely hurting, not just for myself but for my family members also and I find myself blowing up at my son all to often when I am really hurting. Its not his fault and I know it and it hurts me worse when I realize I have blown up on him yet again because of my hurting heart. Please, please pray for me. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Jennifer, thank you for sharing your heart with me. I know that in the moment it feels hopeless. But I’ve seen God work — it took counseling, prayer, and time in the Word with ongoing perseverance. I’ll be praying for you! The fact that you want to change is the best first step!

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