Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it ~Proverbs 4:23 NIV
For me, it started in middle school. Crushes, blushing, giggly sleepovers full of gossip as to who likes who, drama… you know what I mean. Those hormones kick in and we start to notice that maybe boys don’t have cooties after all, and we start picking out our outfits according to what “they” would think is cool. It all seems innocent until we let our imagination run away with our heart.
On my 13th birthday, my dad gave me a ring. Daddy told me the ring was to remind me of a few things, one of which was to guard my heart. And so began my journey of figuring out what exactly this meant and how to do it.
Our heart is our most vulnerable, sensitive, and fragile part of our soul. What we fill our hearts with determines what comes out of them (Matthew 6:21). And what comes out of them shapes our identity. Every choice we make sets a trajectory of how our hearts will respond in future situations.
The condition of our hearts is evident in our everyday lives. Yet we don’t always realize how much of it we are revealing. Some parts are meant to shine through, yet some parts are meant to stay hidden only to be uncovered by one person. We have to find a balance between being real and vulnerable yet wise and discerning. But there’s also a thin line between fortifying the boundaries of our heart and locking it up in isolation to shrivel and harden. We have to keep our hearts soft and moldable, yet strong and discerning.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart,…For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks ~Luke 6:45
Ultimately, learning to guard and focus our hearts is an individual process led by the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to shrink it down to a formula or step by step plan. But through wisely stewarding our actions, relationships, and emotional energy we take an active role in preparing ourselves for the future. In the meantime, here are a few things that have helped me:
- Find your treasure in Jesus
- Know your identity is in Christ and who He says you are (not in someone else or their opinion/approval)
- Combat wandering thoughts with prayer and the truth of scripture. Every time, a temptation or unhealthy train of thought enters your head, immediately counter it with a memory verse or prayer target.
- Know your weaknesses and don’t put yourself in compromising situations
- Journal it out. If that’s how you roll, getting it on paper helps organize thoughts and sift motives
- Be vulnerable with a mentor. There’s something about being honest and accountable.
- Trust His timing. In other words, maybe stop looking.
When our hearts are in the right place, we are free to be who God made us to be. We become secure in our identity and live out our story without the fear or pressure of “making it all work.” Our confidence rests not in ourselves but the One who holds and forms our hearts. And when our heart is focused and fulfilled in Him, everything else falls into place.
How do you guard your heart?