the thing with guarding your heart

When it comes to dating, we’re in this Christian boat of heart-guarding confusion. And if you’re like me, you might find that boat quite faulty, wet, and capsizing when the waves of emotion from the thrill of pursuit begin. What does it even mean? Guarding our hearts?

Why have Solomon’s words of wisdom in Proverbs 4 become the end-all-be-all of a Christian’s dating guidelines?

“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Solomon was right. But Solomon was not talking about dating. Well, he was. But not exclusively.

Today my car was billowing smoke when I got off the interstate. Mechanic raised it up but still cannot find the problem. So I sit here writing while he takes my car apart to find the leak.

And maybe this is it?

That we’re so busy guarding our hearts we don’t really even know what sort of attack is coming. That Christian dating has been girded with this phrase, these warnings, this method so heavily that we have no idea how our hearts are being ransacked right under our noses. How our hearts are on the run, seeping out through the unseen cracks, while we think we have them under lock and key.

I read all the books. I listened to all the sermons. I attended all of the church camp sessions.

I was ready for dating. I had boundaries in place. I had goals and standards and a list of what he would have to be.

I was ready to guard my heart. Except.

No one told me how slippery my heart would be for guarding. Not a person mentioned that my heart is more like a vapor seeping through the cracks, the unseen leakages of my soul.

Because I kept the door closed. I drew the lines to keep intruders out and I sat proudly, a faithful sentry at the gate of my heart. I thought the problem was me keeping boys out. I thought that would be the challenge.

I thought the problem was me keeping boys out.

It turns out the issue was keeping my heart in. Because it’ll chase anyone or anything as it’s always churning out new idols. If I did not worship boys, I worshiped my ability to not worship them.

It turns out the issue was keeping my heart in.

Very much like this thing with my car. My heart is eager to seep out through the cracks, and it’s not easily apparent where the issue is. The boy might be the obvious, but what I need is a more comprehensive guardian.

Just like my car’s leakage requires the dismantling exploration of an expert, so needs my heart.

The dismantling exploration of an Expert, the God-Man, Jesus.

Because Jesus never sat tight at the door of his heart attempting to keep people out, not even Judas, the one who would surely betray him.

No, Jesus entrusted his heart continually to the Father. He fixed his eyes on the Father, and on the joy set before him, and he opened himself to eager obedience in letting the wounded, broken, needy world inside.

Yes, we participate with God in the guarding of our hearts. We do not toss our hearts into a to-be-guarded basket on his desk as we move on to other work. We fight with all the power of the Spirit within us to hold our hearts to his love because we know he holds onto us.

But rather than wrapping our dating lives around that one good verse, what if we just gave him our hearts?

“Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.”
Psalm 62:8

This is the refrain of the Word. Guarding is good. Hiding is better.

Guarding is good.
Hiding is better.

Because somehow this hiding in the Lord enables us to truly live. Our hearts open up in the warmth of his presence and all of it comes out. We come boldly, we come in honesty, and the Father takes it all and does as he pleases.

We offer our hearts to the God who made them and we trust his love-bloodied hands to sort them out, to open them up, to make of them what he most desires.

So yes, Beloved, guard your heart. But guard it by continually placing it, all of it, into the hands of your loving Father. Not just about dating, but about your whole life. Your heart will need just as much guarding in marriage and parenthood and careers and for always. And the best guards are not the most vigilant, but the ones who do the most hiding.

The best guards are not the most vigilant,
but the ones who do the most hiding.

***

What has your experience been with “guarding your heart?” Would you share with us?

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