Monday, October 31, 2011

Letting Jesus Be the Protector

[if you missed it, part 1 is here]

I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that I don't have the following verses memorized after Proverbs 4.23. I know you have it memorized but just for safety's sake:

{Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.} Proverbs 4.24-27

I can't physically touch my heart (not even one that belongs to someone else, because we're talking about a spirit thing here, not a literal one). I can't build an actual wall around it. I can't tangibly shield it from harm. Sometimes it feels like I can't do anything to protect it.
How do I guard my heart?

By speaking words of life and positivity.
If I speak harsh, critical words or spout out a string of curse words constantly (which I do around Rob because sometimes it feels good to vent frustration that way, be honest), even if no one is around, I am leaving my heart wide open for attack.  I am inviting more negative, detrimental thoughts to invade my mind.  By keeping my lips, tongue and mouth clean and pure, I am guarding my heart.

How do I guard my heart?

By keeping my eyes fixed on the most important thing: Jesus.
If my eyes are fixed on Him, there isn't even a split second that the devil can attack my heart or wear me down. If my gaze is directly before me (because He is a lamp unto my feet, one that only shows the very next steps), He will protect my heart. When my eyes drift from him to the world and take in materialism, greed and depravity, my heart is tossed and turned by every small wave. When my gaze is set on my Creator and Protector, I remember that nothing can break through His defense.

How do I guard my heart?

By staying on a straight, firm path.
When I let my mind wander and settle on negative thoughts, I am leaving the clear, safe path and entering a place that is dark, muddy and frightening. Jesus is the lamp and the path, and He is all I need. When I pull away from Him, my heart will inevitably suffer the greatest damage. If I am counting on my own power to save my heart, it will be lost forever.

The heart and the mind are connected, so please don't fool yourself into thinking you can do enough good deeds to cancel out all of those destructive thoughts you are letting yourself dwell on.

I'll leave it with another popular and powerful verse that reminds me that when it comes to guarding our hearts, there is nothing we can do.

God is the protector, and all we need to do is trust Him. He created it. He knows the best way to protect it.

{Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.} Philippians 4.6-7

Monday, October 24, 2011

Letting Thoughts Run Wild (How Not to Guard a Heart)

{Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.} Proverbs 4.23

I love this verse. You do, too. You've heard it, I've heard it, we've all heard it.

Guard your heart.

When Rob and I face a situation at work in which one of us may be alone with a person of the opposite sex, we take steps to prevent that, in order to "protect our virtue." It's a little joke for us, but it's true.

Guard it, protect it, defend it.

It's a verse that I didn't necessarily set out to memorize, I just heard it so many times that it stuck around. But what does it mean?

The word "guard" has a couple definitions that explain pretty clearly what it means to protect something:
1. to keep safe from harm or danger; protect; watch over.
2. to keep under control or restraint as a matter of caution or prudence
3. to provide or equip with some safeguard or protective appliance, as to prevent loss, injury, etc.

When I think of the word "guard," my mind immediately goes to the first definition, but I believe the second definition is much more relevant and helpful when it comes to understanding how to guard a heart, which is unlike guarding anything else.

This weekend, Rob and I had what we are calling an iPhone debacle. It was a big mess involving lots of wasted hours and no purchasing of phones. I'll spare you all the details (but I will say, I love Apple and their associates. It was a network problem).

Through that process, I experienced a lot of unhappy, negative, frustrated thoughts. More than experiencing them, I invited them in.

When I start forming negative thoughts, it is very easy for them to grow and fester and become worse. One negative remark in my head can turn into an entire afternoon wallowing and complaining. At times, it seems so much easier for me to focus on all the things I perceive as "bad" rather than really see all the good in my life.

The problem with being slack here is that there is so much danger in letting your thoughts run wild. 

What comes into the mind starts traveling. It flows down and comes out through the mouth. It seeps through the veins and eventually settles into the heart. And the more that comes into the heart, the harder it is to extract it. So the heart hardens, and it settles, and it finds itself without love or mercy or grace, only bitterness and cynicism.

When I find myself letting my thoughts run wild, my entire demeanor changes and eventually my heart is deeply affected. So I understand how important it is to act with caution; to guard my heart and keep it under control.

There's a difference, though, in seeing a problem and fixing it.
How do I fix this?

[see part 2 next week]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Newlywed's Bliss


Today I am honored to have a post up at Newlywed's Bliss, which is a brand new blog for married couples. Emily has done a great job putting it all together, and I'm very excited to be a part of it.

So go stop by the Newlywed's Bliss blog and check out all of the great posts on marriage.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giving My Husband the Worst of Me

When it comes to relationships, there are a million different ways to do things. You can date for a short amount of time or for years. You can do it the old-fashioned way or you can find something new that works for you. You can even make mistakes at every step and still end up in a beautiful place. 

Overall, relationships are the most fulfilling when you're with your best friend.

Robert is my best friend, hands down, case closed.
He makes me laugh, he knows my heart, and he can handle my emotional pendulum swings. He means everything to me.

So why do I repeatedly find myself bringing him my worst?

At the end of the day, he gets all my crap. He gets my whining and complaining, my statements that life isn't fair. He gets my pride and my arrogance, my arguments for why I deserve certain things in life. He gets my ego and my selfishness, my greed. He gets to hear me complain about things I would never admit to anyone else. He hears what I hate and why. He hears my off-handed, rude remarks, and 90% of the curse words I say are only spoken in his presence.

He sees the absolute worst of me every day.

Thankfully he is my husband and my best friend, and he loves me no matter what.
I know that no matter how much negativity I pour out or how many times I complain about the same stupid things, he will always love me. He married me and promised to love me no matter what. He knew that sometimes it would seem that there was more "worse" than "better" and more "poorer" than "richer," but that's just part of the promise. 

He is my best friend, but I often take advantage of that by bringing him what's at the bottom of the barrel. And I know that's not how it should be.

Even though my husband is willing to listen to my whining and complaining, that shouldn't be the first thing I bring him.
Even though I trust him more than anyone, gossip should not be the main topic of conversation between us. 

Robert and I want our marriage to bring God glory, but there is no glory in careless speech and thoughtless comments. And I am not honoring my husband when I assume I can unload all of my negativity on him.

A best friend loves unconditionally, but that's no excuse to test them with negative conditions and ask them to prove that kind of love.

I'm thankful that my husband is my best friend, and I don't want to take advantage of that. I want to bring to him all of my joy, peace and love; all of my triumphs. I want to be able to turn to him when I need to lean on him, but I don't want complaints to be the only words I speak to him.

He loves me unconditionally as my best friend, and first and foremost he deserves my very best. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Posting at the Good Women Project

Hello! I've been absent from my own blog, but for good reason.

Today, I have a post over at the Good Women Project!!
I'm so excited about this. It's something I've dreamed of doing since the project began. Lauren is one of my closest friends, and I'm so thankful for what she is doing for women all over the country with this project.

Please, go check it out, here.