"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." - Proverbs 4:23
Even if you aren't a church-goer I'm sure you've heard the above scripture in some way shape or form. "Guard your heart". It's what "smart" people do. It "protects" us from the unnecessary and oftentimes self-inflicted pains of life. The reality is that while these words are well-intended, I think we've been getting it wrong. At least I can say I have. In fact, it's something that I struggle with regularly. Maybe you're the same.
By now, I'll assume that like me, you understand that people can be fickle, emotions are often fleeting, and some expectations end up being exactly the opposite of what we may have hoped. That isn't to say that life is all bad. That's absolutely not the case. In fact, these mishaps and bumps in the road (often recognized in hindsight) are so normal. They actually frame the beautiful events that do happen. Think about it. If "Negative A" didn't happen it can be really difficult to fully appreciate the fullness and beauty of "Positive B".
That being said, it's important that we use this advice in ways that will help us to be better, more open, and loving human beings. I've taken the words "guard your heart" in the most literal form. Bad idea. I am the first to admit that it can be so easy to get jaded in different areas of life. For some it can be in dating and romantic relationships, for others it can be complacency at work, it can be a countless number of things. For all of us it can be the result of an overwhelmingly lackluster season of life. The beautiful thing is that life is just that - a series of seasons. Some of them are absolutely whimsical and others not so much.
Well, turns out that if you want to truly feel joy in your life, and not just happiness, which is circumstantial, there are ways that you can better understand the nature and state of your heart. It really does matter and it really does impact every. single. thing. you. do.
Ok...not true. At all.
Of course our hearts have a lot more to do than just pump blood. But don't you find it funny (maybe not in the moment) that they end up being the collateral for things that we never ever intended?! It happens to the best of us, sometimes when we least expect it. This is when things get tricky. We start to guard our hearts and protect it and put up large walls, all the while thinking that we're just shielding ourselves from feeling the things that scare us or attack our personal security. This is exactly what we shouldn't be doing and can sometimes be hard to see on our own without the insight of close friends and family that know us best.
Hearts, like pillows, and hugs, ( and cute puppies 🐶) are meant to be soft, embracing, and warm. "Guarding our hearts" is way less literal than we think. It is actually the act of keeping our hearts just the way that they should be - not cold, hidden, or at arm's length from everything and everyone.
I'm certainly not saying that you need to wear your heart on your sleeve. I'm not that kind of person for the most part and part of me wishes that I could be. I so admire this trait in people. It's pure and genuine, but certainly has its downsides. In fact, when I meet people like this there's almost a stint of jealousy inside of me that makes me wonder how they manage to be that way day after day. I haven't asked anyone (working on it, though!) so I have no supporting data for you, but if I had to take a wild guess it has something to do with the fact that they know their value and worth despite what the person, event, or circumstance surrounding them says.
Seems obvious, but...
It is SO SO hard sometimes. We're humans. We crave and seek love, appreciation, and validation in different forms (even those of you who don't think you do!) We can open up our hearts too easily to the wrong people. Or we set our expectations a bit too high without any proven information or even fully knowing that things may not work the way that we want. We certainly cannot control everything that happens to us but we 1000% CAN control how we cope when life throws us lemons.
You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved. (I'm saying this to myself too!) For whatever reason a large majority of us don't do this enough. For those of you self-affirming unicorns, please please leave some tips in the comments. Teach us your ways! I'm starting to think that delirious confidence is the only way to navigate life because the world, even subconsciously, will tell you different.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging how amazing you are. Seriously.
If you, yourself (not just your mom, your boss, your boyfriend, or your best friend), know these things and you know how your heart should be (open, loving, free of guards and walls) you will overcome even the worst of disappointments. This will be an uphill battle. You'll have to talk sense into yourself from time to time, but it's important that you know the truth and that you can tell the negative thoughts that often creep into our minds to have a seat. #girlbye
So, with that, I say, "guard your heart". Guard its softness. Keep it open, ready for love, ready for adventure, and joyous. No matter what happens, you will be okay.
With a new day ahead of us, take an evaluation of where you stand in life. What's your perspective on things? If you start to get the sense that you're being more negative or "realistic" as I often tell myself, you've probably got some work to do. I know that I do. Ask someone that you trust, someone that knows you well, and has your best interest at heart. They'll be able to tell you the truth. An extremely guarded heart is more obvious to others than we think and when left unaddressed can leave a seriously detrimental domino effect on our lives, the way we see things, and the people we interact with.
We need to drop our walls and just discern as best as we can. Even with the best judgement however, shit happens, so when it does, just remember that hearts were meant for loving.
New Yorker | Lover | Believer