I was completely blown away by John Donne's Batter My Heart. I normally enjoy poetry more than any other Literary form, and this poem was no exception, aside from the fact it meant more than any other. When the poem was first introduced to me in class, I was very impressed and deeply intrigued. With every personal reading of the work in the text, I draw something new from it. I believe this poem has caused in me more thought and self-inspection than any other poem I have ever encountered.
The following will be the thoughts and feelings evoked within me by this poem. Each word is a reflection of what I now can see by my reading of Batter My Heart. In every individual a battle between good and evil is constantly occurring. Inside one who is a Christian, the battles seem to be more often, and more intense than in those without Christ.
I believe the reason for this is that Satan has no need to cause pain to those who have no one besides him. For Christians, the devil's goal is to cause us to fall and fail in whatever way possible, so that we can not be effective witnesses for Christ. Also added to the battle is the fact that the Lord allows, and often sends, trials to come our way. In Donne's Batter My Heart", he appropriately and fully describes the multiple paradoxes found in the difficult act of being a Christian and loving Christ completely.
These paradoxes intrigued me. None of them had ever occurred to me before my reading of the poem, and my understanding of each paradox grew each and every time I read. The word usage in this poem was tremendous and extremely successful in conveying the author's thoughts and feelings where God is concerned. I felt what he was thinking as if I was thinking along with him. Donne asked God to batter my heart... In this, I found myself praying Break my heart, Lord.
Before You start to mend me, I must be utterly broken before You. It is only by being broken that a person can be healed. Without first being broken, there is not even a need for healing. The daily breaking of our hearts brings about our daily healing.
It is in our weakness that His strength can most be shown effectively. That I may rise and stand, overthrow me... Until we have fallen, we have no need to rise. We ask Him to knock us down and make us stumble, so that He may lift us up.
No new birth can come without some amount of pain. In our spiritual lives, pain and difficulty must come before growth can occur. God uses the struggles in our lives, and either allows or brings hardships upon us for our eternal good. I, like an usurped town, to another due... I am like a captured person, who wants to be with the Lord, but can not fully devote myself to Him because of my bonds to Satan. I am in his evil grasp.
Yet the Christian knows that he should be true to the Lord. Reason tells us that He is the one for us, yet unfortunately, reason does not always win. This reason should defend us, but it often shows itself as weak or untrue. We realize we should make it our goal to be like Him and be true to Him, and this is what we most desire. Even so, when we who are believers strive to show how much we love our Lord, and try to prove ourselves, we usually find failure as the end result. Our sinful desires often win over our desire to love Jesus more.
Though we want to put Him first in our lives, and try to, we usually fail miserably. Jesus is our first love, yet our hearts remain untrue to Him. We are adulteresses, cheating on our heart's first love to play around with our other lover, the devil. As much as we would like to, and wonderful as it would be, we cannot break off the engagement we have with Satan.
We are attached-betrothed-to the devil, even when we are Christians, simply because of our sin nature. Our wandering hearts fall back into his evil arms too often for our own good. Daily, we must to ask to be separated from Satan. Our plea must be for Jesus to reclaim our hearts, so that He holds us in His loving grasp, rather than allowing the evil one to keep his grip on us. This is an act of daily trusting that He will protect us from our abusive fiancee.
If only we could break off the wretched engagement for good! Yet we will never be entirely free from his grasp until we are at our groom's feet in heaven. One of my favorite parts in the poem is the ending. Those lines are so amazing to me! Take me to You, imprison me, for I, except You enthrall me, never shall be free, nor ever chaste, except You ravish me. Wow.
It is only through our spiritual enslavement to Christ that we are able to be made free. One can only have true freedom after he relinquishes his all and surrenders himself completely. For Christ to ravish us is so intimate. It's almost as if He would spiritually rape us before we can be clean and pure. I seem to be thinking of it as though He is taking my virginity& my most sacred part must be given over to Him& but it must not simply be given by me; He must take it before I can be clean. An act that would normally be seen as vile, unclean or unholy, is portrayed as another way that we are to give ourselves to Him.
When God takes us fully, in every aspect of our lives, we will have true purity, and only then. Batter My Heart proves to be a most instructional, introspective, spiritually challenging work of pure art. In reading this wonderful work, I have come to understand that we can not be healed until we are broken. This concept, though not entirely new to me before reading, is now made perfectly clear. I have also come to realize we can not rise until we have fallen; a completely foreign idea to me until I read this poem. Another helpful point is that our lives can not be made new without pain, like the birth of a child can not be without labor pains.
The connection between these two had never been made until my reading. Finally, the most awesome of all the paradoxes mentioned, we are not truly free unless we are God's slaves, and we can not be clean and pure unless He has taken us over completely..