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Singles often hear “guard your heart.”

How realistic is protecting your heart? It is practical? Is it do-able?

I was a new believer. And as someone who is over 30, I made my mistakes but I didn’t consider myself innocent. I knew the world could lie, hurt and deceive. But once I got on staff of a church, I thought I had escaped those things and entered the closest thing to heaven.

I trusted the staff and especially my senior pastor. I honored authority and loved serving the Lord. I was like a new bride in love. This was the best job ever!

It wasn’t too long before the honeymoon was over. He said some inappropriate things to me, and I was trying to move past it. But my heart hurt. I was disappointed in someone I had trusted. I was disappointed that I trusted too much. Eventually I found myself at a crossroads.

I had to choose to allow hurt to transform me or harden my heart.

Someone gave me the number of a counselor on staff at Focus on the Family. He said the most brilliant thing to me:

Jill, you have one heart. If you harden it to what happened, you also harden it to the Lord. But to feel the pain is to let your heart be soft with God.

I realized it was okay to hurt for a bit because it recognized the hurt.

It was in the hurt that God could heal.

But God couldn’t heal what I wouldn’t give Him.

Once I realized this, I was able to do three things that allowed me to understand why NOT guarding my heart was a good thing.

I had deeper intimacy with God. 

I had never known such love as when I was sharing my hurt with the Lord. He showed me His promises in His Word that I’d known in my head but didn’t have an experience with in my heart. God wants us to have a relationship, not just religion. Relationships are messy, but we can’t have a relationship without experience. They go together.

This also transfers to how we interact with one another. We can’t just know about a person; we need an experience with them to grow in a relationship with them. To avoid anything that may lead to hurt also keeps us from love.

Love is well worth the risk of being hurt.

I was able to forgive faster. 

When you have a guarded heart, you don’t forgive. Your heart has to be soft to forgive. When it’s hard, you are the one who hurts, not the other person. That means it will hurt during the process, but the other side of it is glorious. Why? When you love the other person enough to leave the consequences up to God, you are saying “they owe me nothing” and can move on. God loves it when we love in His name, because He knows it never fails. It doesn’t fail on you or on the other person.

Most of us put up walls because we are afraid to get hurt. Because of those walls, we get hurt! A cycle of protecting and hurting begins. That’s when offense and unforgiveness can take root in your heart. Once that happens, you have started the process of guarding your heart against God too. That’s what we call a hard heart. We have an awesome opportunity to grow in the image of God when we put ourselves out there and take the chance of getting hurt. When we are hurt and forgive, we look more like Jesus.

That is well worth the risk of being hurt.

I was able to trust and love others again. 

To love others well, we must put ourselves in the line of fire and take a chance. We aren’t robots who can spend time with people and not grow attached in some way. God never made us to hold back until we are sure they will be trustworthy and honor us in a relationship. Getting to know someone isn’t a promise of a forever friendship.

You have to give some of your heart because that’s what Christians do. We love because Jesus first loved us. Even if they don’t love us back. Avoiding intimacy with people because we are afraid of getting hurt is a sure plan to get hurt. But there is a chance of it leading to a long-lasting relationship that ends in marriage!

That is well worth the risk of being hurt!

Let God guard your heart while you look for safe places to share it. 

Only you are in control of your heart; only you know what you will do with it. But here are a few things you can do to make sure your unguarded heart is going to be safe:

1. Find out if someone is trustworthy by being friends; see if they act like a good friend to you.

2. Watch to see how they honor others, because it’s a reflection of how they will treat you.

3. See if they care more about what you want than what they need.

4. Determine if they forgive quickly and completely after arguments.

5. Find out if they have long-standing relationships and friendships.

I’m sure there are other things that will reveal a safe relationship, but hopefully that will give you a good place to begin evaluating.

When you are dating someone and are excited about where the relationship is going, you can’t just guard your heart or else the other person will observe that wall and get the feeling you don’t trust them— and suspect you don’t want to move forward.

Don’t guard your heart and end up alone.

Give your heart wisely. Forgive completely. Love fully.

Unguarded.

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