Above all else, guard your heart....

Everyone has one. It’s price tag that hangs around the doorknob that opens the hallways of your heart. For some, that price tag is high and trust is given sparingly. For others, the door swings open on its hinges welcoming all into the warmth of intimacy.  Most of us respond to those who sojourn through our life somewhere in the middle, with perhaps a little less extremism on either end of the spectrum. 

I must confess that I tend toward the open-door policy. I have been learning, however, that the cost of my heart is worth more than I originally understood.

When I was little, I was the only kid on the block until fourth grade - then a new girl just my age moved in down the street. I was so excited! We made friends... well, sort of friends.  I don’t know if you ever had this kind of experience as a child (or perhaps even as an adult) where you look back and wonder what in the world you were doing having a friend like that, but this is one of those experiences.

I lived in an upscale neighborhood in the home of my deceased great-grandmother. We didn’t “belong” in the area, and I felt it just about every day. I’ll spare you all the details, but both this girl and her mom would regularly ridicule my state of living. While we were playing, this friend would shriek if I got too close to her dolls. I wasn’t allowed to touch them because I was too poor. She would ask if I was hungry, find her way to the kitchen and then eat cookies in front of me. When I asked if there was enough for me too, she would say that she would have been happy to share except these cookies were only for rich people. I would avert my gaze and let her finish her snack, feeling terribly sheepish.

Her mother would look me over, either upon my arrival or departure and ask me where I got my clothes, knowing full well they were hand-me-downs. She just wanted me to have to admit it out loud so she could fuss about it. The list went on and on. Yet I continued to go to her house to play with her. I wanted a friend and the cost of my friendship was mighty cheap.

I wish I could say that I put away that kind of thinking once I moved onto junior high or high school... or even college. But I did not. Graduations did not erase this standard operating procedure from my make-up. I would brush off such offenses as if they didn’t really mean to do or say those things. 

Slowly, I realized what my grandmother meant when she said, “Those people aren’t friends or else they would act like it. Those people are just acquaintances.”

Years have passed, and I’ve been making some slow but needed changes. I still tend to relate to people with an often-too-wide-open heart, but I have learned something very important about my heart. And yours too, for that matter! My heart (and yours) wasn’t cheap!

You are not your own for you were bought with a price... 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The price that paid for my heart and yours was the death of God’s only Son, the Prince of Peace and Savior of the World. I am not my own, so it isn’t up to me to decide how others can treat the heart Jesus paid for. 

Too often we allow ourselves to endure unnecessary wounding in relationships because we figure that it is our duty or because it brings us to a place of humility or servitude that honors Christ. While there are a plethora of verses that instruct us to take up our crosses and follow Christ (who undoubtedly suffered wrongly at the hands of sinful people) to bear one another’s burdens, there is much needed discernment in applying godly wisdom to our relationships as well.

I recently discussed a personal situation with a dear sister in the Lord about whether or not to continue the status quo of a relationship that always left me tattered. After all, in 1 Peter 3:17 it says that we ought to suffer for right. Maybe I was just supposed to let it happen? This true friend reminded me of a valuable point. The context of that verse happens to be your witness. Humility and grace are always required. Sometimes these virtues are the most crucial part of our witnesses and need to be magnified in situations where we might end up getting treated unfairly for the Lord’s glory. Other times, however, a spoonful of truth and healthy boundaries need to get stirred in with grace and humility.