Guard your heart: What the heck does that mean anyways?

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If you grew up in the church, there is no doubt that you have probably heard the phrase "Guard your heart" at one time or another.  It comes from the well-known verse Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  We usually hear this in regards to relationships.  When we seek out advice about that particular cutie we are crushing on someone is bound to remind us of this old familiar proverb.  It's not just with guy/girl relationships though.  It applies to any situation where there is a question of how much of our heart we should be willing to invest and how much of our trust we should hand over. I don't know about you, but there are many times I have heard this advice and left with this sense of what the heck does that mean anyways?  How do I go about guarding my heart?  For the most part, in the past, I have taken this to mean that I lock myself up like Fort Knox.  I put up all my walls and my defenses and I don't let anyone past the guard.  I felt like I was keeping myself protected that way.  I felt like this was my way of remaining safe and preventing myself from getting hurt.

Then I looked at another familiar scripture in a different light: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).  Notice that last part...the peace of God will guard your hearts.  Mind blown.

See the truth is that we have always been lousy guards of our own hearts.  We keep the right people out.  We let the wrong people in.  We subject ourselves to hurt repeatedly or we are so scared to get hurt that we don't allow anyone to get close at all.  It's time to entrust Jesus with the responsibility of protector of our hearts.

I've learned that the most important thing I can do is to bring every situation to Jesus.  Every good thing and every bad thing.  Every hard thing.  Every relationship and every new opportunity.  With a thankful heart, I invite Him in.  I place my heart in His hands and I trust all the results to Him.  I ask Him to bring wisdom, direction and clarity.  I let Him into every situation and then an amazing thing happens.  His peace begins to stand guard over my heart and my mind.  I no longer have to keep up my walls and my defenses.  In fact, when I am trusting Jesus with my heart, I can let others in.  I can love others better.  Although things are bound to get messy, because after all we are dealing with humans, I know that when I put my confidence in God He will give me the wisdom and the strength to navigate rocky waters.  And I know full well that when I become broken, He will fit the pieces back together.

I am learning that I can't fear brokenness.  Jesus broke all the time.  His heart broke for the ones He loved, but were still so far from Him.  His heart breaks for all the ones He is waiting for to come home.  What about that one verse where we are told that He wept?  Brokenness is not the problem.  Rather, the problem is brokenness without surrender.  Experiencing pain and loss is all a part of the human experience, but we must bring each hurt and each tear to the only one that can mend us and heal our hearts.

Let's put our hearts back into the hands of Jesus, right where they belong.