Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23
When I first read Proverbs 4:23 I was like, “YESSS! Finally one out of a million things I won’t have to change in trying to live this crazy, Jesus-follower life.”
Fast-forward to this week and God decided to show me that my interpretation of this scripture – and the excitement connected to it – wasn’t exactly correct. In hindsight He’s been telling me for about 3 months, but this was the week it all made sense. It wasn’t fun. At all.
But God, the Bible says to guard my heart! I mean, I know I’m supposed to love people*… but how do I do both at the same time?! I’m just trying to do what You say here… (Which really meant, “Please don’t take away one of the only Bible verses I don’t have to deny myself to agree with…”)
It’s funny because when I question God, He usually answers with a simple, non-arguable statement. In this case it was:
There’s a difference between guarding your heart and pushing people away.
Wait, you’re saying I push people away?
Ugh, I hate when He does that! But after thinking about it, I guess I can see His point…
I used to be one of those super emotional girls. You know, the one who wears her heart on her sleeve and lets everyone close? The one who cares too much and says too much and cries too much…
Then I stopped being her. Life taught me that if people knew your weaknesses and saw your feelings they’d use them against you. So I got really good at “guarding my heart.”
I remember a while ago this guy asked me a question. After I answered he was like, “You just said all that and told me nothing about you. I bet you’re really good at making people feel like they know you without showing them anything.”
He totally called me out…
We didn’t talk after that, Lol. I wasn’t ready to fix it, he kept asking questions and I didn’t trust his character enough to be open about it (but that’s another blog).
Ok, God was right (duh). So my follow up question was, “What’s the difference between guarding my heart and pushing people away?” Because apparently this was something I needed to figure out.
I started by looking at the “guard your heart” scripture in context. Surely God gave me some more clues on exactly how to do that, right?
Proverbs 4:4 – Take hold of my commands with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.
Proverbs 4:6 – Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
Proverbs 4:11 – I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
Proverbs 4:14 – Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.
So wow. Looking at the verses before Proverbs 4:23 gave me a lot more insight. I love the part about wisdom protecting me, and that it comes from God. Then I read the verses after it.
Proverbs 4:23-27 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
These verses gave me confidence that if I just focus on following the Bible, my heart will be guarded. Like, I don’t have to worry about pushing people away if I’m walking with them the way His Word says to. I love verse 27 for that… Give careful thought to the paths for your feet…
I think the Bible is pretty clear on how we should guard our heart. But that doesn’t get to the root issue. The root of this whole discussion is, why am I so intent on “guarding my heart” in the first place?
I guess I have to look back at my own words to answer that. It’s because I learned people weren’t safe. If you let them close enough to hug you they’re close enough to stab you too. And who knows if they will or not?
I’ve never been one to complain about my life, that I’ve had it so hard and been hurt by so-and-so or whatever. My motto has always been, “Succeed anyway.” My first response is more likely to tell someone to “get over it” instead of crying with them. I mean, who has time to let someone else’s actions mess up their dreams? I never have.
But in all the, “just get over it,” sometimes you move on without actually getting over it. You don’t take the time to intentionally heal, instead just stuffing the experience and corresponding feelings in a box and storing it somewhere that won’t get in the way of your hustle.
In some ways, that’s what I did. I’ve healed from a lot. But now God is showing me that there are a few boxes back there I forgot existed and now they’re in the way of where He’s trying to take me.
Seeing that was annoying.
It was annoying because I’m comfortable. I’m comfortable keeping people at a distance where I can control my feelings for them. I comfortable investing just enough to be invested but not enough to get hurt. I’m comfortable living in my own world and only trusting those who’ve survived me pushing them away long enough – however long that “long enough” is...
I always say that my world is my favorite place to be and not everyone can survive there. Which is true. But now I’m questioning if it’s right.
God, why are you doing this? I’m fine being uncomfortable in actions. 100%, all in, no problem. Story of my life. But this heart stuff? With people? This is dumb.
So of course, I have to go back to the Bible to figure out how to deal. I’ve fought God before and it never goes well – see the story of Jonah – and so I might as well figure out how to get on board… Sigh.
A few scriptures I found and my thoughts on them:
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, have no fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13
I always go to this scripture when I’m scared. I love the promise from God that He’ll help me. I also love how He reminds me who it is that’s holding my hand.
Lord – To whom obedience is due
God – Bigger than everything I’m scared of
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Proverbs 34:18
I hate admitting I’m broken or crushed. I mean, what happen to all the ways we – me and God – fixed me? I WAS broken. Totally admit that. But there’s more? Jeez. I became Super Woman, remember? Smh. At least He’s close… `
…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Phillippians 1:6
This reminds me that God’s work is never done until Jesus comes. Not super comforting to know I'll be internally uncomfortable until then. Ha. But it IS comforting to know that it’s Him doing the work as I follow and not me. I love that He promises not to stop working, and that one day I’ll be with Jesus. That’s the best part.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
The word that sticks out to me here is “all.” All means all. And we can never hear too many reminders that He cares.
But seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33
Amen. In context, this is a promise that I have nothing to worry about as long as God and His family are my first priority. I can’t just make this decision one time and I’m good. It’s a daily decision to put Him first, but it’s also a daily promise that He’ll take care of me. Do I believe this? If I do, my actions will match.
Now I know those few scriptures aren’t going to automatically fix something I’ve been doing for so long. But awareness is the first step to fixing anything and they’ll help me through the process.
We all need practicals. So here are some things I’ll be focusing on for a while - probably forever - that may help you too.
5 ways to guard your heart (without pushing others away):
1. We can't follow what we don't know. Keep (or make) learning His Word priority #1.
2. Make friends with people who treat God like the love of their life. Stay off the path of the wicked.
3. Watch your steps. In relationships, behavior that God approves will protect us.
4. Play your role and God will play His. Focus on following God and let Him focus on protecting you.
5. Talk, cry, write and whatever else you have to do. But don’t give up!
In the meantime, answer these questions:
1. Why do you want to push people away?
2. When did it start?
3. What haven’t you worked through and healed from that’s keeping you from letting people close?
4. Do you trust God enough to heal you when people hurt you?
These are questions we all have to answer. And that too, is a different blog.
God bless and I love you. Cheers to clarity, confidence and happiness!
XOXO ~ Chantelle
** Matthew 22:30 and John 13:34