Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guard your heart... what does that even mean?

As ladies in the evangelical Christian world, it is common to hear the exhortation, "guard your heart" in reference to how we interact with those of the opposite sex when we're interested in them or just "friends" with them. Proverbs 4:23 is often equally overused and misused in reference to this. Those three words are drummed over and over and over into our vocabulary- so what does it even mean?

There are a couple of foundational things about our hearts (the deepest depth of our physical, earthly being) that we need to know.

1) Our hearts are desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9)
- We cannot trust our hearts. We are our own worst enemy. Not one lies to you, manipulates you, hurts you, deceives you, or betrays you like you do. The more you trust in yourself and trust the fickle nature of your heart, the more you will experience pain and confusion. It's crazy how we can love something so much at one minute and hate it equally the next. Our hearts cannot be trusted.

2) Our hearts are only truly safe when grounded and rooted in Christ.
- It's in knowing Christ that we are free. Knowing Him and resting in Him provides a hope, rest, freedom, joy, and love that our hearts seek everywhere else. It's only truly found in Him. All other sources, no matter how good they are, will fail you and hurt you.
- Is there joy in being loved by a man? Absolutely. Can a man care for your heart in a biblical, godly and fulfilling way? Yes yes yes! But will he still fail you? Yes. If you are waiting for a man to experience safety, protection, security, and love for your heart, you are looking to the wrong source and you will be disappointed. Put your eyes on Christ.

(Let me preface here by saying: I have failed royally in this area. I write these things boldly because I have been smack dab in the middle of this and I have not walked in wisdom, discernment, or purity of speech or mind. I'm still learning and God is faithful. Amen!)

Practically speaking, how do you "guard your heart". It's better here to say "guard your mind." We've attached such a fluffy feeling to our hearts, almost as if we have no control over what's happening and if we're feeling it, it must be okay or normal. So- if I'm married but I'm "feeling" something in my heart for another man, it's okay right? No. We've romanticized this idea and removed any responsibility of wrong-doing or foolishness on our own parts. It's time we own up to those. So, here we go:

  • Stop fantasizing and dreaming about a man who isn't yours. It isn't helpful to you or to him. That fake date you dreamed up in your mind? It didn't happen. But now you've attached real life emotions to an illusion, which will cause greater confusion, pain, or frustration in the future. 
  • It's not wise to be best friends with a man unless you both plan on being married to one another. The more intimate details you share with him, the more your heart will grow attached, and the more painful it will be when he starts dating someone else. Just don't do it. Don't share parts of your life that aren't meant to be shared with him. Don't nurture and care for him in a way that you would a boyfriend. He's not your boyfriend, but unbeknownst to you both, you'll enter into a faux dating relationship that will not end well. It sure feels like the "real deal", but it's not. Don't tip toe into this and don't dive head first thinking you can handle it. It's not wise.
  • Don't look at someone else's romantic situation in contempt, jealousy, or covetousness. Before you know it, roots of idolatry will take place and anything male that moves will become your eye candy because you so desperately want what she has. Rejoice with her. Confess your fears to Christ. Tell Him what you need and what you want- He already knows. But trust His answer. Rest in His love, not your desire for love.
  • Quit playing the "it's meant to be..." game in your mind. You like John and all of the sudden you're meeting John's everywhere- don't put your hope in that. You're seeing John everywhere you go now- he's always been there; you're just now aware of him. You keep having dreams about John- that doesn't mean he's clearly "it". Don't read into "signs" that aren't there.
  • It's not necessary to tell everyone about him to get advice or prayers or counsel. The more you talk about him, the more you like him. The more you like him, the more you want to talk about him, and the more people know. It becomes a cycle that just gets more painful. Pick a select few people (WOMEN or couples) who will speak truth into your life and have them pray for you. Don't tell all your girlfriends so they can encourage you in something that you've schemed and planned in your mind.

You know your own personal weaknesses in this better than anyone else. Confess these to WOMEN and invite them to speak truth into your life. Have prayer warriors on your side. If you struggle with this when you're laying in bed at night, have women praying for you as you go to bed. Memorize scripture. Sing yourself to sleep. Fill your mind and heart with things of the Lord during the day so that when you're in a weak moment, you can recall those truths. If having social media makes it more difficult, be willing to take a "social" hit and get rid of facebook, instagram, twitter, vine, snapchat, etc... Your holiness is more important than getting daily updates from the lives of your 795 "friends." Fight for this, sister!

We can do all of these things but still fail. Unless your heart is first rooted and grounded in Christ and His love for you, fighting for holiness in this area is meaningless. You desire to watch your heart and mind because you love Christ. The more you know and love Jesus, the more you desire the things He desires. He desires a hope for you that does not put you to shame. He desires a joy for you that turns your mourning into dancing. He desires a love for you that is better than life. All of these are found in knowing Christ. He is better and sweeter than the imaginary relationship you keep concocting in your mind. Wait on His timing and wait for His best. He will not fail you. Even if His best is never having that earthly desire met, He is not failing you. 

He hasn't forgotten you. He hears you, sees you, and has a life planned for you that far exceeds anything you could plan for yourself. It's good. He's good!

Praying these Scriptures tonight for myself, and for you.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24