A child with a lost heart needs immediate attention. From simple unmotivated sullenness to rebellion, run-aways, drugs, and suicide, lost hearts are often dangerous, especially to themselves. Recently, one of my middle school student ran away from home and when found talked about suicide. This lost heart needed immediate attention, probably with a doctor or hospital until hurting himself was not an option.
A braveheart will have times and situations where he or she doesn't have courage, but those are isolated and become areas to identify and grow. But, a lost heart has given up and, like a cancer, the condition spreads to other areas of life. A lost heart doesn't often restore itself and the danger grows.
The condition of a lost heart is most often tied to a broken relationship, either with a parent, friend, or God. Helping a lost heart begins with building relationship. Parents are prime players, but can get help when needed, like our young middle school student. When a child has lost heart, intensifying relationships is the first step. It may not work cleanly because relationship requires two to work. But, mom and dad need to do their part. Lost hearts are not restored without intervention.
In Malachi 4, God talks about His plan to "restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers." Right before this statement, Malachi talks about the need to get rid of arrogance. Parents with lost hearted children must humble themselves before God and their children to have hope of restoring heart. Parents must be the "parent," taking initative in a relationsip by humbling themselves, forgiving and seeking forgiveness if needed. And, find bridges to connect with their child.
But, often parents cannot do it alone. They must not be too proud to ask for help from others such as counselors, friends, peers, family, and pastors--no matter where they are found, lost hearts need relationships to reestablish trust and build bridges to help. God is about restoration. Just as parents are powerful to build or ruin bravehearts, they are powerful to be used by God to lead in restoring heart as well.
After immediate help to make sure he was safe, we suggested that the dad of our middle school boy carve out some special time with his son. Things had been rough at home with health and job problems. The boy needed relationship and attention. The best one to give it was his father, since the boy was still open to time with dad. It is as simple as throwing a ball or taking a hike, something the boy enjoys. The key is forging a relationship where forgiveness is possible and the future is hopeful.