I have been told many times in my life to guard my heart, including recently. I mean it is Biblical right? “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23. I believe this is not unwise advice, but Proverbs are just that, proverbs. They are good reminders but not exact doctrine to live by.
I mean, if you literally “guard” your heart, would you ever let anyone in? We were not created to live on solitary islands. That being said, there is a lot of hurt that happens in the world that was never the intention either. So how do you balance it? How do you live vulnerably but still not be a doormat?
I am a super passionate person and when I do something, I am all in. I work all in, I parent all in and I love all in. I don’t do things half way. I understand the wiseness of slow and steady but I can’t remember a time I have ever done it that way. I feel like I wasn’t wired that way. The problem with this is that I make decisions that are not always the best and my heart gets fully invested very quickly. I am also a very visionary person, so often I see things as they could be (not that I am ignorant to reality) and believe that they will get there. I believe people can change, I believe goals can be achieved – because they can, but they don’t always.
So when things don’t work out I am devastated. I get so heavily invested, sometimes and somethings you need to be fully invested in. When the market crashes and all you have invested in is gone, what is left? I have the broken pieces of my heart and I hold those tight and say ‘Never Again!” I swear that I won’t love people recklessly. I start to build walls around my heart. I put armed guards at the door and I try my best not to feel. When Susan and the babies died I could not imagine how easy it could be to lose something and someone you loved so much. When my marriage ended I never wanted to love someone that way again. The pain that comes with loss is so enveloping you can’t feel anything else and you never want to feel again.
Susan David has a powerful Ted talk I have watched multiple times, the gift and power of emotional courage (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDQ1Mi5I4rg). She says people have said those kinds of things to her about not wanting to feel and she says to them, “you have dead people’s goals.” She’s right. Dead people don’t feel. We don’t get to pick and choose our emotions – we either have them or we don’t. You feel pleasure and pain, hope and sadness, excitment and disappointment. Your alive or your dead. I want to live.
I do still understand the wisdom of healthy boundaries and I will do my best to hold to those even when they hurt. I will screw them up. I will try again. I will not give up, because I want to live. Not a day before God decides to take me home am I going to give up. I will lean into the pain and let it craft me into a better person. I will admit my mistakes and work at change.
My heart will hurt, it will also hope. It can harden or it can heal. You chose.