Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guard Your Heart

Right before I stared my freshman year of college, I began dating my first "real" boyfriend.  I mean that I fell for him *big time.* I tend not to do much half-way, and so I gave my heart to him about as fully as an 18-year-old can.  Without getting into the sordid details of the story, suffice to say my heart was broken pretty *big time* as well.

The result of this relationship is that I lost my ability to trust my discernment on the character of men, and so all men became unsafe.  I grabbed onto a verse and made it mine: "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23)."  I heard lots of messages about guarding my heart, but never really did hear how I was to do this in a practical way, nor did I hear any wisdom on how long I should do this.  So, what was my interpretation? Lock my heart up like a dungeon.

As I am navigating my world of singleness, though, I am coming to a new revelation....I'm not so sure that I've been interpreting this verse correctly.

I recently looked up the whole 4th chapter of Proverbs.  It has a lot to say about wisdom, but the section that contains the verse about guarding our hearts is actually a section on a call to righteousness! You see, back in biblical times, much as it is now, the "heart" was a catch-all word for thoughts, emotions, and soul.  What this verse, in context with the other verses around it, is saying is not to keep our hearts apart from others, but instead to keep our hearts apart from evil and instead preserved for righteousness.

Obviously, a lot of unrighteous things happen in the context of both romantic as well as platonic relationships, and in that sense, we need to be careful to put some things in place to keep those relationships from evil.  For example having accountability is a huge way to keep relationships pure.  I also think that determining in your heart the character traits of what a godly person looks like so you can recognize them in another is a huge help too (for example, teachability). But I think more than anything, prayer is key.  Prayer for wisdom and discernment are exactly what Phil 4:6-7 tells us is the best way to guard our hearts.

My revelation, however, has been that guarding my heart is not an all-or-nothing situation. I really believe that instead of being black and white, there is much more of a gradient scale with a lot of gray in between.  I'm not advocating giving our hearts away fully to anyone and everyone who comes along, but I am also not advocating for locking it away like it doesn't exist.

CS Lewis has a great quote: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

So, I am trying a new thing.  I am trying to figure out how to allow myself to be vulnerable and open, especially with the opposite sex.  I realize that this might mean I could get hurt....but that's the beauty of freedom...that you forgive, you heal, and you move on.  I find that a lot of women my age have become so discouraged by life that they have lost their youthful optimism and spirit.  That is the last thing I want to be.


Thursday, June 16, 2011


I never question whether the Lord has His best in mind for me when His best aligns with my ideas of what is best.  It is in those moments when His best doesn't line up with my idea of best that I question.  If I could agree that His best is always best, regardless of what it looks like, I could save myself a lot of heartache.  However, I think this is a large part of the human condition...agreeing with God that His best is best all the time. 

Sunday, June 05, 2011

You Can't Turn a Chihuahua into a German Shepherd

A Chihuahua is a small little dog.  They are considered a bit of a pocket pet, which means that have been breed specifically to be a companion animal.  They provide little else in the way of what other dogs might provide....not much of a guard dog (other than the fact that some of them bark), you can't really take them running, and you certainly wouldn't use them as a "working dog" (think herding dogs on a farm).  Their one and only purpose as a dog is to just hang out with their humans.

Now let's look at German there is a dog with a lot of purpose.  They are great guard dogs, many of them are used as K9 dogs, you can take them running with you, and so on.  But certainly, if you wanted to put one in your purse and carry it around with you, like you would a Chihuahua, you would not be able to do that.  Paris Hilton, for example, would probably never chose a German Shepherd as a dog to own.

If you bought a Chihuahua you would never expect it to do or behave the way a German Shepherd does and vice verse.  They were designed to do very different things.  It would be ridiculous.

Yet, I regularly find myself admiring certain traits or personality characteristics of people around me, wishing I was more like them.  By this I don't mean traits that I should be admiring like patience, kindness, gentleness etc.  In fact, those ARE traits that I should be seeking to become more like in my own life.  Instead, I am talking about the traits in others that are things that you can't always, nor should you, become like.

For example, I have a friend who has several tattoos. In fact, she regularly says: I'm bored, I think I'll go get a tattoo today.  I, on the other hand, don't have a single one. I have thought about getting one for quite a while, but just have never done it.  At this point, I think it would be a surprise to me if I ever even got one.  I have yet another friend who is super into music.  All kinds of music.  She can carry on a conversation about music producers and albums and all sorts of things that I don't have a clue about.  I love music, I play the violin and a little guitar, and I have a decent singing voice, but I am not passionate about music like she is.

What I am finding, generally, is that those traits I admire are usually traits that I am jealous of, or jealous of what they "get" that person.  My friend with the tattoos....she connects with teens like no body's business.  She is amazing with them.  I on the other hand am seen as a bit of a fuddy duddy.  My other friend who is so into music....she had a lengthy conversation with someone tonight about music that was way over my head. 

I am learning more and more each day to stand confident and firm in who *I* am created to be.  I am probably never going to be the tattooed rocker chick (though I secretly love good rock music; especially with a good guitarist).  However, there are things about me that make me amazing and great.  There are things that my tattooed friend and my music friend don't have that I do.

Who I am is amazing and great and awesome and wonderful.....I can't become someone I am not and the sooner I stop trying to be...the sooner I will be at a greater level of peace.