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.


1 comment:

  1. That is definitely the beauty of it - to really open yourself up to the love of others, you have to risk getting hurt. But the payoff can be amazing.

    This is how God loves us - allowing the possibility of rejection. If God does it this way, it must be worth it, right?