Skip to content

The Complicated Heart, Q&A with Author Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae Complicated Heart

“She broke me.
But He found me.
And after He bound up my wounds
He taught me how to love her.
Because she was broken too.”

[Excerpted with permission from The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group.]

By: Gabriela Yareliz Gonzalez

I have learned that one of the hardest things we can do is sit with our pain and grieve. I am not a stranger to loss. I have grieved the loss of mentors, friends and family who have passed, and I have grieved the loss of people in my life who are still alive. I am deeply familiar with the gut-wrenching feeling of loss, dealing with estrangement and tense relationships, learning about and establishing boundaries, neglect and healing.
One thing I have learned along the way is that healing cannot be rushed. Time doesn’t heal anything; God does. Healing is a choice that we make. The choice is to put ourselves in the direction of the One who can heal. Healing is key in the art of surrender and being all God wants us to be.

When I saw Sarah Mae’s book, to which I was introduced by the lovely Ms. Jenaye White at B&H Publishing Group, The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts, it grabbed my attention because I had a feeling it addressed a lot of the hurt I have wrestled with on a personal level over the past two decades. I also felt that this was a book that would benefit all of you, as I often sit and pray with and for many of you, and we chat in the direct messages, so I know some of your stories and heartaches.

We all carry some degree of pain inside of us. One of the reasons Modern Witnesses exists is because we all have a story to tell, and God meets us in that story. That story is always worth sharing.

“One of the reasons Modern Witnesses exists is because we all have a story to tell, and God meets us in that story. That story is always worth sharing.”

Sarah Mae’s The Complicated Heart takes us on a journey through her relationship with her mother who struggled with addiction, and in turn was emotionally abusive to Sarah. It’s a journey that isn’t just told from Sarah’s perspective but also from her mother’s, as some of her mother’s journal entries are sprinkled throughout.

I don’t want to spoil the storyline because I want you to get your hands on it, and go on the journey, yourself. However, I do want to tell you why this book and Sarah’s story are so important, and why all stories of healing are important, as we seek to turn the eyes of others to the One who can heal this world.

Sarah Mae runs through different types of dysfunctions that many of us have potentially faced in our lives: Parenting your parents, addiction, betrayal, words used as weapons, neglect, and toxic people showing no remorse and exhibiting a “You need to get over it” attitude. Yet, she pushes us to see past this and dare to hope for more, by stating:

“Dysfunction does not have to be your legacy.
You may have been born into it, married into it, or created it yourself, but it does not have to be your destiny or your identity. Victory is always on the table.”
[Excerpted with permission from The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group.]

She is real. She shares her journey, the counsel she received through therapy and important mentors in her life, and how even healed wounds can hurt when they are “hit just right.” She doesn’t shy away from life’s harsh and often painful realities.

As she lays out her journey, she shows how, throughout her experience, God has been faithful in His promise, “Seek me and you will find me.”

“Dysfunction does not have to be your legacy.
You may have been born into it, married into it, or created it yourself, but it does not have to be your destiny or your identity. Victory is always on the table.”

She leaves us all with a very real choice, stating, “We all get the same choice in life: to stay in the pain, stiff-armed toward God, or to surrender all to Him.” [Excerpted with permission from The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group.]

INTERVIEW

B&H Publishing Group has been gracious enough to provide us with a window into Sarah Mae, herself, and below is a transcript of a conversation between the author and her publishing house. Thank you, B&H Publishing Group and Ms. White for making this possible. I truly hope that you are blessed by all that is shared here, and that you will explore Sarah’s journey for yourself and find healing and rest for your own heart.

SarahMae - PHOTO CREDIT Rebekah Viola Stoltzfus,

[Photo Credit: Rebekah Voila Stolzfus]

B&H Publishing Group Q&A with Sarah Mae

BH: What inspired you to tell this story now?
SM: On my mom’s deathbed, I promised her that I would tell our story. God did so many miraculous things in our relationship, and I wanted to tell people what He did. So, I waited about a year, just letting myself rest and grieve and process, and then I knew it was time, and so I started writing.

“I promised her that I would tell our story.”

BH: What did you learn while writing the book?
SM: The most impactful and heart-wrenching thing I learned was just how lonely my mom was, and how much pain she had endured. It made me think of all the people who hurt others, and how underneath the cruelty and inability to show love is often just so much pain. Pain upon pain.

Getting to look behind the curtain of my mom’s life helped me better understand her. I don’t excuse her behavior, but I do have empathy toward her, and I have lamented deeply at the losses we both experienced.

BH: What does the title mean?
SM: As soon as I began reading her journals, I just kept thinking, “She was so complicated.” She’d write about loving Jesus and wanting to be a good mom and the stress she felt in fighting for custody of her kids that she loves so much. The space between her words and the reality of how she treated my sister and me was cavernous.

After she died, my husband went to clean out her apartment. He opened a drawer in the fridge and found it filled with vegetables and candy wrappers. He told me it reminded him of her, how she was always battling between things that are good and things that aren’t.

And the truth is, this is most of us, right? We are all wrestling internally in one way or another, at least sometimes, through our lives. None of us has it all together; none of us is a fridge filled with only healthy things all the time. You can love Jesus and still struggle in strongholds of sin. I think of Brennan Manning and his alcoholism and how he loved Jesus but struggled with his addiction all his life. It’s complicated. I don’t understand the human heart, but God does. It’s why Jesus had to come and die and defeat sin and death; we can’t do it.

So yea, we’re all a bunch of complicated hearts. Loving people who hurt us is complicated, and loving ourselves after being in abusive relationships that mess with our self-worth is complicated. But we are called to trust God with our pain and love, even when it hurts.

“None of us has it all together; none of us is a fridge filled with only healthy things all the time. You can love Jesus and still struggle in strongholds of sin.”

BH: Who do you hope reads this book?
SM: Anyone who wants to know how to love themselves and others even when it hurts, and anyone who has wrestled with these questions:

How do you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply, who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction? And even more specifically, how do you forgive them when your wounds are still open, when they show no remorse, when you are so dang tangled up with them you’re not sure how on earth to get untangled? How do you maintain a relationship with a toxic person? How do you not run for the hills, saying, “sayonara and peace out”?

If you should run, how do you know when or how? How do you love your enemy when that enemy is your own mother or father or sibling or spouse? How do you get your emotional junk together so you can put a stop to the unhealthy patterns, behaviors, and habits you feel stuck in? Is it possible to get to the point where the pain no longer consumes you? And is there joy and victory in the midst of loss and unmet needs?

Those were my questions, and if someone relates to them, then this is the book for them. If someone doesn’t relate, it’s still for them, because I guarantee they know someone who is struggling in a dysfunctional relationship.

BH: What hope does your book offer to the person who wants to know how to love when it hurts?
SM: First, my promise to the reader:

I will tell you my story honestly, even the vulnerable parts.
I will never be fluffy or trite with you.
I will show you how to love and forgive when it hurts. And yea, it hurts. But after the hurt is the blessing.
I will tell you the truth about what God did and who he is.

Here’s the hope:
There are miracles and surprises and gifts even in the middle of the pain and the mess and complication of it all.
You can have a fulfilling life even in the midst of some unmet needs.
Dysfunction does not have to be your legacy. You may have been born into it, married into it, or created it yourself, but it does not have to be your destiny or your identity.
Victory is always on the table.

BH: How do you hope readers grow and learn from reading “The Complicated Heart”?
SM: I want to see readers free from all that hinders them from loving God and loving others.

I hope my story helps them to be okay and enjoy life, even in the midst of some pain. I want them to finally feel normal (dysfunctional relationships can make us feel crazy and powerless). I want to see readers setting healthy boundaries, rejecting lies, becoming secure and confident, and loving themselves (instead of beating themselves up) and loving others. Most of all, I want them to trust God with even the deepest of wounds, believing that not only can He heal and set free, but He can also redeem what seems impossible and broken.

“Most of all, I want them to trust God with even the deepest of wounds, believing that not only can He heal and set free, but He can also redeem what seems impossible and broken.”

***
Again, I want to thank B&H Publishing Group and Ms. Jenaye White for providing us with so much valuable insight from the author.

Sarah Mae’s book The Complicated Heart is released today, September 17, 2019. I hope that you can find a blessing in it and that you may share that blessing with others. May we all continue to surrender and find healing so that we may reflect Him into the world.

Until next time, keep witnessing!
XOXO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: