The Perfect Heart

Once a young man said he had the most beautiful heart in town. A crowd gathered and admired his heart for it was perfect. It was the most beautiful heart they’d ever seen. Suddenly, an old man came and said, "Your heart is not as beautiful as mine." The crowd looked at the old man’s heart. It was full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in but they didn’t fit quite right and there were jagged edges. In fact, in some places whole pieces were missing. How could his heart be more beautiful?
The young man laughed. "You must be joking," he said. "My heart is perfect and yours is a mess of scars." "Yes," said the old man, "But I’d never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love. I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart. But because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I gave pieces of my heart away and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges; giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open reminding me of the love I have for these people and I hope someday they may return and fill the space. So now do you see what true beauty is?"
The young man stood silent. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fitted but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his.
True love requires sacrifice and effort to sustain and grow.

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