The “Frangible” Heart

March 5, 2015

Conflict Resolution Series--The Frangible Heart
Judy Dabler

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Judy Dabler

Conflict Resolution Series--The Frangible Heart

A Word from Your BCC Team: Today begins a BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on conflict, conflict resolution, peacemaking, and church discipline. In today’s post, Judy Dabler explains that the injuries experienced in conflict are very real. Apart from faith, these injuries can prove “lethal” as relationships become permanently damaged and destroyed. Yet, faith produces the ability to face conflict-related wounds in a way that enables the believer to powerfully proclaim the gospel to the world.


Frangible…a word that rarely finds its way into everyday conversation. It is an interesting word, though.

I was recently introduced to the notion of frangibility while teaching a biblical counseling course. My plant scientist student explained that a tree with frangible properties can survive injury from insects, disease, or hail because of its ability to handle the wound in a way that allows the rest of the tree to thrive. In plant science, frangibility is a quality that responds to damage in a way that protects from destruction. He mentioned the concept of frangibility as we discussed how faith impacts the human experience of suffering and loss.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12).

His words got me thinking…

Signs, Bullets, and Earthquakes

I began a search to discover more about “frangibility.”

I learned that the signs placed along runways are frangible. If an airplane hits one of these signs, the frangible design makes the sign shatter in a way that does not damage the plane.

Frangible bullets are often used by law enforcement in urban settings to protect bystanders from dangerous ricochets common when regular bullets make contact with concrete or metal. Frangible bullets shatter into tiny particles when impacting hard targets, which is meant to reduce the risk of serious harm.

A building is made earthquake resistant when built with both a frangible and a resilient support structure. The frangible, primary support structure is intended to fail in an earthquake to allow the secondary, resilient structure to take over and support the load.

This led to a question:

What if the human heart could break in a way that didn’t bring destruction?

Lethal Injuries

I have seen a lot of conflict-related wounds that eventually result in a form of death. An insult wounds and a relationship dies. A betrayal shatters trust and a marriage ends. A falsehood is exposed and a ministry is terminated. Gossip violates the bond of community and a church splits. Families break when one more minor issue lands on a pile of unaddressed hurts. Brothers are permanently separated as their attorneys battle, draining the last dollar out of the family trust that was intended to be a blessing by parents who would be heartbroken if only they knew.

Human beings seem to lack the quality of frangibility.

Conflict-related wounds produce outcomes that include addictions, anxiety, depression, despair, and violence towards self and others. As I reflect on the lethal nature of relational injuries, I wonder what relationships would look like if the human heart was frangible.

Pain and Suffering

The pain of a broken heart is breathtaking. Conflict-related suffering and human brokenness can barely be described in words. I imagine that a person with a frangible heart would experience the damage of conflict in a stunningly different way. In fact, I imagine that the frangible heart would receive injuries, hurts, and losses with pain, and yet with a sense of blessedness and joy.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Faith and Frangibility

Trusting God seems to be the “frangibility property” that changes the way a person experiences the relational wounds associated with conflict. The more that a suffering believer trusts that God loves them, cares about their experience, and has revealed His truth in Scripture, the more they engage insults, betrayals, and grief in a way that reflects Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21-23).

To follow in the footsteps of Christ requires us to entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly—our Father God. In faith, we would face the damage of conflict without being destroyed, echoing Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Through faith, we trust that all of our pain and suffering are but “light and momentary troubles” that “are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

How can we develop a frangible heart?

Believing the Gospel

When we believe the gospel, we become reconciled with God through Christ and become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our “new” and transformed hearts reflect more and more Christ Himself. Armed with frangible qualities, we are enabled to respond to the wounds of conflict with a new perspective and a new mission. Believers are given the ministry of reconciliation. God intends that we serve as ambassadors of Christ and take the message of reconciliation, the gospel message, to the world (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

How many ambassadors of Christ have been damaged and injured by conflict?

Practically every one.

Every peacemaker I know has had a broken heart. Yet, when hearts break in faith, trusting in the grace of God, we are not destroyed but rather strengthened for the mission at hand. When we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us in our trials, and His power is made perfect in our human weakness, we can delight in the face of the conflict-related wounds we experience (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When broken, frangible hearts respond in faith, hope, and love proclaiming the beautiful message of God’s love through Christ.

Join the Conversation

What if the human heart could break in a way that didn’t bring destruction? How can clinging to Christ and His gospel of grace produce in us a frangible heart—a heart that lives out 2 Corinthians 4:8-9?

3 thoughts on “The “Frangible” Heart

  1. Great concept! Yes, Lord, create in me a pure heart, a frangible heart!

  2. I so appreciate the concept that frangible bullets and freeway signs take the hit and don’t cause increased damage to the planes or to the bystanders. They, themselves, “absorb” the impact. I desire to have a heart that absorbs the impact of anothers’ sin so that I don’t in turn sin against them by retaliating in attitude or action (Rom. 12:9-21). Thanks for this post!

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