You can read this as a blog post or watch the full video here.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Now I know many of you have heard this scripture before and you probably, in your own way, have taken some measures to guard your heart. I know I have. And while we are talking about me, let me go on a quick tangent and be honest y’all. This was a HARD post for me to do because I already know I have a WHOLE wall up like my wall is HIGH y’all. And I know that there is a big difference between guarding your heart and being guarded. But I can honestly say part of my reason for being single is because I have been very guarded. So at first, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about this subject because I don’t like to speak on things I haven’t yet mastered. But then I got to thinking, V, there are gonna be some other ladies and gents out there who also haven’t mastered finding the balance between guarding your heart and being open to love again so speak on it. And here we are.
My disclaimer is that I won’t profess to have all of the answers but I will share with you all what I am learning on my own journey while I’m still on my journey, which has included a lot of therapy and really working on the issues that caused me to put walls up in the first place.
WHY SHOULD I PROTECT MY HEART?
So, why should you protect your heart? And you’ll notice I’m shifting from using the word guard to protect here because I want you to understand that the Bible isn’t saying to guard your heart to the point that no one can get in-at least not how I understand it. Instead, it’s really saying to protect what you allow to enter into your heart and your heart-space because those things influence how you traverse through life and make decisions but we are going to deep dive into that in a few minutes.
The #1 reason you should protect your heart is because your heart is the source of your life. Therefore, it is highly valuable!
Let’s talk about this. Y’all, your heart is integral to your overall well-being. Physically, your heart literally IS your life and without it, you would be considered dead. Additionally, your heart is also integral to your life spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It is where we tend to house our feelings, emotions, desires and our thoughts on how we view ourselves and others. Plus, it’s what allows you to connect with other people.
Because it is literally the epicenter of your life, physically and internally, protecting your heart is important. Therefore, you have to be cautious of what you allow to enter into your heart space because what you allow to enter – whether positive or negative – will be what influences your decisions and choices. And if you want to make healthy choices for your life, then protecting your heart will be key to doing that.
Also, Satan knows how valuable your heart is and that it is the epicenter of your life. That is why he loves to attack it. I posted a quote on my Instagram page this week (which you all should be following by the way lol; help me get to 10K followers) that said raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by your own taste in men lol. I know I have. Literally, in some past relationships and situationships, I CHOSE the wrong man. Why? Because I left my heart unprotected. When I didn’T protect my heart, I allowed the wrong people to enter and it took forever to get them out of my heart as well.
You see, Satan LOVES an unprotected heart and he will constantly attack it if you let him. Scriptures that come to mind here are John 10:10 and 1 Peter 5:8.
John 10:10 – ” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)
1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (NIV)
So yeah the enemy stays on the prowl and ready to attack. I know I feel like some of my biggest struggles have come from my heart. Whether it’s been relationships or just my own internal thoughts and feelings, the enemy knows he can’t take me out any other way, so he constantly tries to attack my heart center. Many of you can probably relate to this as well. This is yet another reason why it’s so important that we protect our hearts.
We protect everything else in life by creating measures or barriers. For example, you protect your home with an alarm system or your health by working out. So similarly, you will want to develop some kind of healthy mechanisms to help you protect your heart while on your journey. And that’s what we are going to talk about next. We’ve already talked about the why so let’s talk about how you can put this all into practice.
WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL WAYS I CAN PROTECT MY HEART?
Again y’all, I am still on the journey and I am speaking from my own learning experiences but hear are some healthy and practical ways that you can protect your heart while on your singleness or dating journey. These could include but are not limited to:
- Setting boundaries and sticking to them. This is so important. Keep your heart and mind clear to hear from God regarding a person. That’s where boundaries come in. Things like having sex can cause your vision and heart to be distorted and confused. It can also cause you to ignore red flags. So perhaps, you create a boundary to limit sexual conduct until it’s safe for you to go there with a person. Additionally, sex can be a physical thing that causes confusion but there are internal things as well. For example, avoid creating imaginationships in your head. This is when you meet someone and then you instantly have planned out your entire wedding in your head BEFORE you even get into a real relationship. That can also cause you to make unhealthy decisions because you so desperately want the outcome to be what YOU want it to be even if God tells you differently.
- Working on your past traumas so that you don’t allow people to enter into your heart-space that are the same as those you are trying to move on from. If you don’t take the time to heal, you will find yourself dating similar types of people. I believe Jerry Flowers said this as well in a different sermon that we repeat what we don’t repair. So if you don’t take the time to repair your heart from the pain, you may find yourself repeating the same mistakes. And also, you need to work on those things especially if they are robbing how you view your self worth. We make bad decisions when we don’t know our own worth or we tie our worth into a person.
- Spending time in God’s word, reading inspirational books, etc. You want to make sure that you have a foundation of what healthy relationships should look like and how you should be treated so that you don’t allow toxic people into your life. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite scriptures to study about love and if you meet someone who already doesn’t exhibit these qualities like patience, gentleness, etc. then that may be a sign that you shouldn’t open your heart to them. Pray to God for discernment so he can show you the way but also don’t ignore whatever he tells you. But your understanding of healthy relationships doesn’t have to be limited to just the Bible (though that is a good starting place). Discernment is going to be key here. Allow God to show you if you can proceed with a person or if you should hault.
The best way I can sum up how to practically protect your heart is simply to set spiritual, physical and emotional boundaries until God gives you the green light to proceed further with a person.
But again, don’t set up boundaries and walls so high that you don’t allow anyone to get in. Being so guarded is ALSO unhealthy. Let’s dive into why.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I CREATE EMOTIONAL WALLS?
Now the problem like I said earlier, is that some of us, including myself at times, have such high boundaries or walls that no one can get in. And God will be like I have someone I want to send you but you aren’t ready for him. That’s when the hard work has to come in to play so we can let down those emotional walls and receive the person we are destined for.
In his sermon entitled “Side Effects” which I’ll link below, Pastor Flowers says “pain builds walls and healing builds doors. When you put a wall up, no one can get in and YOU also can’t get out”. And to me that’s exactly what it means when you only have a guard up. I know I have walls up because of the pain I’ve experienced from past relationships. Pain that I’m actively learning to release and deal with. But the healing that I’ve been getting has caused me to be more open to love again. While I am not fully there yet, I am actively working on it so that I can receive the man that is right for me in the future.
I can acknowledge that many of us have lots of valid reasons for guarding our hearts. We’ve been through countless breakups, have trust issues, have been hurt in the worst ways imaginable – like seriously, we could exchange lists of hurts with each other and I’m sure we would all be in awe of the pain we’ve experienced. However, when you become so guarded, you may feel like you’re protecting yourself, but the reality is you’re really just not allowing anyone to get close because you’re afraid of being hurt again. And the healing that we all should be seeking will be what allows us to let those guards down and open up to love again. Contrary to popular opinion, that’s ALSO not a healthy way to live. If you desire marriage and relationships (and I’m speaking to myself here as well), you can’t be afraid to be hurt but you can set up healthy boundaries so that you can try and minimize any hurt (because we can’t fully control hurt or pain).
I wanna wrap up by reading you all a quote I found while researching this topic – and I’ll link all my sources of my research below – but this quote summarizes the downsides to being guarded. It’s by Tracie Miles. In her devotion “The Downside of Guarding Your Heart” she says – “Only God can protect our hearts from pain, and He did not create us to live in a prison of our own making. Instead, He created us for companionship and love. He wants us to live free, full of joy and with peace in our hearts. But it is our choice to climb out from behind walls we’ve built and remember all of those gifts are available through Him, no matter what we’ve been through or what lies ahead.”
So basically, when we live imprisoned to our own walls, we are missing out on the freedom to have companionship and love and just living life freely. We are choosing fear instead of faith. I don’t know about y’all but I definitely don’t want to live in fear of being hurt for the rest of my life And miss out on love. Like I don’t want to give any of my painful experiences OR my exes, that much power. Yes, love is risky y’all but I know I want to experience it again and that is why I have to be open to inviting it into my heart again and do the hard work that comes with that. And you do too.
Whew! I know that was a heavy topic but I do hope this encourages you all today. I hope it encourages that guarded person out there that’s just like me to know it’s okay to let her guard down and be open to love again. If it encouraged you, please be sure you like, share with a friend and drop a comment below to share your thoughts. Stay blessed and stay encouraged!
R E S O U R C E S:
Jerry Flowers “Side Effects”: Heart Rehab | “Side Effects” | Part 4
Why Is It Essential that we Guard Our Hearts: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/why-is-it-essential-that-we-guard-our-hearts.html#:~:text=%20Why%20Is%20It%20Essential%20That%20We%20Guard,love%20to%20destroy%20and%20devour%20us…%20More%20
The Downside of Guarding Your Heart: https://www.proverbs31.org/read/devotions/full-post/2020/09/16/the-downside-of-guarding-your-heart