“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23, NIV
When I was younger I clung to the idea that I could avoid all the problems of relationships if only I worked hard enough to guard my heart. If I could somehow manage to close myself off to the point that I was never interested in any guy, or if I could figure out a way to keep my heart out of my relationships not only would I be heartbreak-free…I would be a new kind of superwoman. I would be the ultimate PROVERBS 4:23 WOMAN.
Except…I was wrong. About almost everything.
Guarding my heart really didn’t center around relationships, and dating, and making sure to avoid the possibility of pain. I think guarding your heart has more to do with being alive. And I wasn’t just guarding my heart…I was locking it down in an underground bunker, feeding it nothing but bread and water, and topping it all off with two heavily armed guards. And that’s not at all the way anyone should live. In fact, I don’t believe that’s how God asks us to live.
Ten years ago, I thought the ultimate Proverbs 4:23 woman would stay out of relationships until she was sure she could marry someone. And I thought she wouldn’t be interested in anyone unless she was sure she would marry him. And I thought she would keep a fence around her heart. An electric fence, preferably.
Now I think the Proverbs 4:23 woman has a different mindset. Here are a few of my thoughts…
The Proverbs 4:23 Woman…
- Has boundaries, not electric fences. The Proverbs 4:23 Woman allows safe people to be a part of her life, and she allows herself to be vulnerable with those safe people. I made a mistake when I thought guarding my heart meant closing myself off from others. I thought it was the noble thing to do, but in reality it kept me from healthy relationships. It’s normal and right to have boundaries because we don’t want to let in dangerous people. But it’s not right to push people away and hurt them in the process when they aren’t trying to push past our boundaries.
- Loves well. The Proverbs 4:23 Woman invests her life, her love, and her time in relationships. When we love others well, we build strong friendships and strong relationships. We allow others to get to know us for who we really are and get to know them for who they are, we begin to live life to its fullest as we enjoy true friendship.
- Asks God for wisdom, then proceeds. The Proverbs 4:23 Woman doesn’t automatically discount relationships or friendships because she’s afraid of what might happen. I believe God is happy to give us wisdom when we ask for it. After receiving wisdom, we can make a choice and continue on that path, consistently asking God to guide us. We can have confidence in our decisions if we’ve prayed them through and followed God’s guidance.
- Knows the importance of taking her thoughts captive. She dwells on truth. We all worry about things and sometimes allow ourselves to think poorly of ourselves. But a part of guarding our hearts means we make an effort to recognize when we start to spiral into patterns of destructive thinking.
- Understands that risk isn’t always a bad thing. When I believed I was guarding my heart, I pushed away risk because I was afraid I would get hurt. The truth is, sometimes we do get hurt in the process of learning to love others. Being vulnerable is risky. But it’s also beautiful and worth it with the right people.
What do you believe it means to guard your heart?