“Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Proverbs 4:23
She told me through her tears “Nobody is ever getting that close to me again. From now on I’m guarding my heart, just like the Bible says.”
“Oh my sweet friend,” I replied, “That’s not exactly what the Scripture means. You can’t just shut your heart off from everyone, that’s no way to live.”
But I knew what she meant and how she felt. I’ve said much the same thing myself. You probably have as well. Because we are created in the image of a relational God, we are “wired” for relationship. Yet relationships often mean that our hearts will get bruised and even broken. But that doesn’t mean that we should seal them up behind stone walls and never let anyone in. I’ve done that. It only made me bitter and hard and harmed my heart far more than anyone else ever could. The heartache of a broken friendship or of loss by death or distance is truly painful. But I would rather feel the ache than not feel at all.
Many years ago, in my youth, someone close to me hurt me deeply, badly, some might say what they did was unforgivable, and I agreed for a very long time. So I laid the first layer of stone around my heart. Then a few years later came a broken marriage and another layer was added to the wall. Broken friendships, cutting words, abandonment and disappointment in more relationships meant I had to climb a ladder to add another round of stones. Before too long, my heart was completely closed off, shielded from any possible pain, but also shut off from light and warmth and joy – and God. My heart began to atrophy and grow cold and stony – like that protective wall. When a friend died of a heart attack at 40, I recall telling the Lord, “It’s awful to die at such a young age.” In my spirit I heard a response, “No more so than living to a ripe old age with a stone cold heart.”
Dear friend, you may think you are protecting your heart by keeping it hidden behind walls of stone and iron, but the truth is, you are doing far more damage to it than any person could inflict. Yes, your pain is real. Yes, the hurt runs deep. But you were not created to be in a prison of your own making. Please – tell the One who can heal your heart and break down the walls. You were meant to feel the warmth of relationships. You were made for love.