It’s not much of a secret that one of my, if not my absolute, favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 4:23. It says, “Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life.” I literally designed t-shirts and banners after building a Youth Group on this verse. It’s good stuff! (I’ll unpack all of the goodness in this verse some other time.)
It was the focus verse of my devotion this morning and I was pretty stoked at first, because of how much I knew I already love it. Well, this time, God kind of caught me off-guard with this one. It was not exactly fun, but here’s what I learned…
- I’ve actually hidden myself behind this verse in ways that aren’t exactly “good” anymore. I guess I’ve just been too afraid to admit it, because the last time I opened my heart like that I got hurt. However, the goal of life isn’t to not get hurt.
- I walk through relationships in fear (don’t assume I mean just dating relationships here). I’m afraid of getting my heart broken. I’m afraid to be vulnerable. Maybe that’s part of why I ask a lot of questions of the people I’m with; if we’re focused on them, they won’t actually ask about me. I’ve done this all in the name of “guarding my heart”.
- If I want to grow deeper in my relationship with God, then I’m rather required to enter into close relationships with other people. That’s going to mean not holding back when I’m with safe people and I’m so not good at that! Even my closest friends will tell you that I have a way of holding back when we’re talking, all in the name of “not wanting to be too negative”. The truth is probably that I’m scared.
- I tend to doubt people. And on a not-so-good-day, even the people that I call friends. I question if we’re even really friends or if I just know some of the most polite people ever. I wonder just how safe my heart is with them, simply because of past betrayals by “friends”. I wonder “if I open up about this, will it change everything?”
- The wall that I have built around my heart to protect myself from getting hurt is the same wall that will keep God’s love from flowing out of me and into others.
The good news is that God is not mad at me for building that wall around my heart. It was His protection for me for a long time, especially during the seasons that He was mending and healing my heart from the relationships I had no business entering into in the first place. The thing is, it’s safe for me to come out now and if I don’t—I’m going to miss out on what He wants to do in my ministry and relationships with others.
Someone once challenged me to have enough courage to doubt my doubts. He probably has no idea that I lost sleep that night over that challenge, but I did. Today, I was reminded of that conversation again and can see how that’s going to play a part in this season of my praying “may the walls collapse”. I don’t want to hide behind Proverbs 4:23 anymore. I do want to live a life based on what that verse really means, but I don’t want to live in the extreme that I’ve gotten myself into either. I want to have enough courage to doubt my doubts, and allow God to continue breaking down those walls and genuinely live in relationship with Him and others.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even 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. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)