Guard That Heart!

guard your heart

I read something today that really caught my attention. It said, “When your heart is hungry, it will eat just about anything.”

This made me go into Deep Thought Mode! The phrase was referring to lonely people, men and women alike, who find themselves in relationships that are unhealthy because they find it difficult to be alone. They listen to their heart instead of their head, and decide they would rather put up with a bad situation, and make excuses along the way, just to avoid lonliness.

While I have been in this situation in the past, I can say that those days are behind me. But I still struggle with one aspect of this scenerio – guarding my heart. I was brought up  with the idea that, as a Christian, we are supposed to be open and willing to give of ourselves to others, ready to love and be loved, always willing to take the chance on others because, well, that’s just how our life is supposed to be lived. It’s not about us – it’s about them.

Well, there is a minor problem with this concept, and I have been meditating on some Scriptures that refute this way of thinking.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Philippians 4:7 (NIV) “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve been mulling these scriptures over in my mind. The first one tells us to guard our own hearts. But the second one says that the peace of God will guard it for us.

But what about Jeremiah 17:9 that says, “The heart is deceitful above all things…” If our heart lies to us, why should we bother to guard it at all? Why does it deserve our attention?

After some thought, I think I’ve figured out why ALL THE ABOVE are necessary for us to absorb. If we are reckless and freely give away love and emotions, no matter how awesome people seem to be, then God is going to allow us to follow our free will and we will face the consequences, good or bad.

But if we actively seek His guidance in relationships and situations, ask Him for wisdom along the way, and be willing to LISTEN to His urging, His Word says the Spirit will keep us in peace and emotionally safe. (Isaiah 26:3)

I haven’t been skilled in this, but I’m working on it. It’s an ongoing process, isn’t it? We love, we fall, we pick ourselves back up, and we learn.

And the reason why we should even bother to guard our deceitful hearts is because of this – If we don’t guard it properly, our heart will not only lie to us and lead us into bad situations, but then it condemns us after we fail! The guilt and condemnation can be enough to destroy an already vulnerable person.

But I’m so thankful I can read I John 3:20 and know, “If our hearts condemn us, we KNOW that God is greater than our heart, and He knows ALL THINGS.”

KNOW vs FEEL…we know things with our minds, and we feel things with our hearts. Feelings lie! But since God knows all things, He knows how much I want to please Him, even when I flub up! By believing His Word, I KNOW He will never leave nor forsake me, and I can lift my head again and keep going.

The need to guard your heart doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships. I have had my heart broken over family, friends, job-related situations, church-related matters, and crushed hopes – all because I ran headlong into situations with an open and trusting heart. I didn’t bother to use wisdom or patience, or I didn’t pray about the situation first and listen for an answer.

It takes practice. But look at it this way, you’re guarding something that should belong to God. Not everybody deserves a place there. You’re His son or daughter – not a door mat!

I pray that I learn to stop, think, and use caution and wisdom when it comes to matters that involve my heart!

I pray that God heals us of our broken hearts.

I pray that we learn to guard our hearts more effectively.

I pray that the journey is more peaceful for us in the future.

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The One

I recently heard a certain female Christian speaker give an inspirational testimony on how God had answered her prayer regarding specific traits that she longed for in a future husband. She spoke about how He had ultimately brought them together when she met this man who fulfilled every single one of her many criteria that she had listed to God. She then described, in detail, the 20 or so different specifications she had for her now-husband. Same faith, certain height, steady income, NFL fan, similar taste in music, etc.

Now I know her take-home-point was that God cares about the things we care about, and if we ask, He is faithful to give us the desires of our hearts. I realized, as she listed all the very specific details she wanted in a man, that God must care about her very much to have answered her prayer so precisely.

Yet I confess that I found this part of her message annoying. She had actually requested that her future husband have green eyes. When she finally met this man, he had so many of her criteria that she was thrilled, but it was a dimly lit room, and she disqualified him in her mind because she thought his eyes were brown. It wasn’t until the next day that she saw him again and realized they were indeed green that she realized that he must be her soulmate after all!

After listening to her, I felt a little irritated. I thought, “I would never dismiss somebody based upon their eye color!” Then, for some reason, I made my own list. I felt a little silly at first. I mean, to request things that I would want in a man was to admit that I actually hoped for something that I wasn’t sure I would ever find. But at the end of the night, I had done some soul searching, attempted to tap into a new area of faith, and came up with the following. I can promise you, it does not include his eye color!

If he ever comes along, he will have to meet the following criteria…

  • He will have to love God more than he loves me or anyone or anything else in his life, including himself.
  • He has to have purpose. To exist, rather than to live, is a mindset I want to stay far away from. Goals are as important in life as oxygen, to me.
  • He will see me, value me and protect me AND my emotions. No further explanation necessary…he either gets it or he doesn’t.
  • He will have to understand that I am always a mom, and I will always move heaven and earth for her.
  • He will have to understand that I love my music. He doesn’t have to love it too, but he has to have at least an appreciation for it and won’t tell me to turn it off when it’s obvious that I’m listening to it. I’m unwilling to butt heads with anyone over this.
  • He will have to value hygiene and health, and understand that self worth is mirrored in your appearance.
  • He will never have to be begged to touch, hug, or hold me.
  • He has to have a sense of humor. I need someone who understands why I laugh at the things I do, and be able to make me laugh!
  • He has to be a good communicator, and he won’t get pissy with me when I hold him to this.
  • He won’t behave in ways that he knows are hurtful to me. He will never hold my love for him hostage.
  • He will be honest.
  • He will be able to recognize his faults and actively work on them. If he is done growing as a person at any point in life, then he is not for me.
  • He will recognize when I’m working on my faults, and encourage me along the way.

Love, support, protection, and guidance would summarize My Wish List. I wouldn’t care about eye color, social standing, skin pigmentation, income, height, vehicle, or muscles. I would care about him, us, our life together. Our purpose.

If The One for me exists, I’m confident we will find each other. Or maybe he will just look over and recognize me.

When Healing Came

I know I will struggle to write this blog. It is going to be difficult to put this experience into words because this subject is just so very personal in nature! But one area in my life that I’ve been working on for the last couple of years has been tearing down walls and sharing with others, so I will do my best to be transparent.

Two years ago I started having certain physical symptoms that told me something was not quite right. I ended up at a surgeon’s office to have biopsies, which showed abnormal lesions and tissue that had a moderate risk of turning into cancer, but also had a chance of going away on its own if my immune system was strong enough. My doctor gave me the cure-all option of having a major surgery that would require me to be off work for six weeks, as well as send me into early and permenent menopause. I opted to wait and recheck in six months.

My next biopsy was essentially unchanged. She again offered the surgery, but also supported the decision to wait another six months to recheck. I decided to put my faith to the test, and I again opted to hold off and wait. I can’t explain why, but it just seemed like the right decision.

The next biopsy, now a full year after the first diagnosis, showed the tissue had advanced to high risk, and the lesions were now much larger. My doctor told me at my age it would be less likely that my immune system would beat it, and that surgery was very appropriate. I was devastated and fearful and against having the surgery, and being off work that long was going to be extremely difficult financially. I told my doctor I would let her know. I asked my closest friends and the ladies at church to pray with me. I fasted. In my moments of prayer and meditation, I would have a short-lived peace about me that everything was going to be ok, but there were other times my anxiety was so elevated I would tremble. I just felt stuck! What was I supposed to do?

I phoned the surgeon and told her I wasn’t ready to have this major surgery and needed another option. She told me about a minor surgery that would remove a lot of tissue and might take away all the high risk tissue and allow more time for my immune system to defeat the rest of the lesions. I jumped on it!

After the procedure, my symptoms increased with a vengeance. It began to wear me down physically, mentally and emotionally. Another six months passed, and it was time for another biopsy. As soon as she entered the room, my surgeon looked at me and said, “You know if this one is abnormal, you really need to have everything taken out!”

Fast forward two years and six biopsies…nothing had changed. I kept putting off surgery out of fear. One day, I found myself having a really bad day dealing with the symptoms, as well as other emotionally challenging conflicts. Me and God had another talk. This time it was just Him and me…Him being the patient Father, and me, being a tired heap on my living room floor, like a crying child about to be punished. “God, I feel so alone! There’s nobody here to help me through this. How am I going to pay my bills if I’m off work for six weeks? Who will take me to the hospital, or back home after discharge? Who will help me get up and around at home? What if I die in surgery? Who will tell my daughter?”

Then the prayer got really pitiful. “Maybe my time is over. Maybe I’ve done everything I’m going to do in life, maybe I’m supposed to have cancer. Lord, give me strength to face this, because I don’t think I can do this anymore!”

Then, it was as if He gave me a little glimpse into what I looked like, saying all those things, with tears streaming down and hair stuck to my face. A quiet “shush” came over me, as I heard Kari Jobe in the background, singing on my playlist, “I Am Not Alone.” I started to tell God I was sorry for freaking out, for doubting that everything was going to be ok. I sat up and blew my nose, wiped my face, and just sat there, meditating. The very next song was, “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott. Right after that was “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle. It was a perfect musical lineup for my faith to be increased and my prayer to take a different direction! I started feeling grateful for every good thing in my life, for God’s love, and for every person who had prayed for me. In this gratefulness came such a sweet atmosphere that tears of awe were flowing all over again, as I thanked God out loud for visiting with me that morning.

Then something else incredibly cool happened! As I finally got up and started going about my day, still listening to music and talking to God, a thought was spoken to me as I walked past where I had been praying on the floor earlier. A thought is the best that I can describe it, as it was silent like a thought, but seemed to transpire out of nowhere.

“You know, if you were married, you and I wouldn’t have many mornings together like this.”

I stopped and listened. The “thought” continued, “This is the first time in your whole life that I’ve had you to Myself.”

It was true. When I had a husband and daughter at home, my days off were always filled with errands and tasks that involved taking care of my family. But these days, I have so much alone time that a lot of my days are filled with inspirational reading and music, and talking to God. At this realization, I went from feeling incredibly sorry for myself, to feeling like the most loved and fortunate woman alive! At that moment, I was so grateful for all my blessings, including my singleness.

The story isn’t over! Later the same week, my symptoms abruptly stopped and I began to feel normal again. All those times I had prayed in desperation, reaching out to God with fear and anxiety, calling on my confidants to pray for me, nothing had given me the calm and sense of wellness that I got at this time.

Monday was my last biopsy. When the surgeon entered the room, once again she said, “Well, we will give this one last shot. It’s been over two years now. If anything is abnormal, we gotta do the surgery.” I agreed.

Three days ago I got the phone call from her. “Christi, I took many samples, remember? I took twice as many as I usually do, and they were deep. I’m looking at the pathology report in front of me, and every single one of them is normal. You don’t have to worry about this anymore!” I was so elated!

I don’t know why everyone isn’t healed. I wish I knew. I don’t know why God didn’t heal me a year ago because I know that He heard each and every prayer. And I bet there are plenty of people who will read this and just shrug it off and claim that my body just overcame it on it’s own. That’s cool, but I know what I experienced that day in the quiet of my home. It was so much more than a physical touch. It was a spiritual connection created from me reaching out in fear, then a decision to trust, and allowing gratefulness to complete the connection.

The photo below hangs on the wall of my doctor’s office. It gave me a little peace every time I saw it. It’s pretty cool to know that no matter what the outcome is, if we put our faith in Him, we’re in His hands.

Thanks for reading my story!

When Healing Comes