I can't tell you how many times I grew up hearing how important it was a protect my heart. "Guard your heart" "Don't open up to just anyone" "Those boys will lead you astray!" "Know who holds your heart" "If you don't give your heart away, it can't be broken." While some of these statements hold truth, I know from being hurt, I think there are more practical ways to guard our hearts than to hide or keep ourselves from loving fully.
"Listen carefully to my words, don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those that find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." - Proverbs 4:20-23
If we let the words of God penetrate into our hearts, I think we would find something so different than our natural reactions to hurt. The scripture is filled with calls to love, extend grace and act without prejudice. Letting God fill us with that kind of truth would not only guard us from being hurt by others but also strengthen us to change the lives around us.
One book that has always stuck with me is You Are Mine by Max Lucado. Now, many of us know the absolute magic that is Max Lucado, but if you don't I suggest this children's book as your first read! In summary, the book is about wooden puppets that live in a village where they rate each other's actions. The characters carry around boxes with black circles and gold stars. When they see someone else who is talented, beautiful, nice, smiling, successful, or kind they would place a gold star on them. But if they saw someone who they thought was ugly, who failed, didn't succeed, or was broken they would place a black circle on them. One puppet in particular only had black circles on him, but he made a friend who had no stickers on her. He inquired about her lack of stickers, and she told him that other puppets had tried putting stickers on her but they simply didn't stick. Her secret was that she spent time with the creator of the puppets.
How freeing would it be to be able to walk around knowing exactly who God says that we are, confidently enough that other’s opinions of us just don’t stick? The negative comments and jokes just don’t matter, and the positive ones are sweet but aren’t the sole support of our security. How much more bravely could we spread the truth of God’s love with those around us if we had no black circles or golden stars on our hearts? I think it would be a particularly powerful thing to behold.
God has called us to extend great love, beyond what we can conceive even for those that it comes naturally to love. When that calling becomes overwhelming, remember that God also gave us unlimited access to Himself in order to live it out. So, rest in knowing that God has everything you could ever need, His strength, love, patience and peace can sustain you and fill you in every way through every situation. Whatever you may be going through, the way that God surrounds your heart never changes. With that kind of protection, who can hurt you? Don’t keep your heart and your love from other people out of fear. Instead trust that God has the power to keep you while you pour out love and grace to those around you.
"Since He did not even spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all, won't He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us when God has called us His own?" - Romans 8:32,33
We are "His own", embrace that today!