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How Do You 'Protect Your Heart' as a Christian (Single or Married)?

How Do You 'Protect Your Heart' as a Christian (Single or Married)?

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can pierce our souls and do extensive damage. Although, that’s not as catchy as the little rhyme that lies about words never hurting us. We must protect our hearts from a world that doesn’t understand us (see 1 Corinthians 2:14), people who want to tear us down, and sometimes, we have to protect our hearts from the ones that are supposed to love us the most.

What Does the Bible Say about Protecting Your Heart?

Jesus tells us that our eyes are the lamp of our body and can fill our whole bodies with light (see Luke 11:33-35). The verse that shook me, even though I’ve read it multiple times, is verse 35: “Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Similarly, King Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) to guard your heart for everything you do flows from it. The ESV version says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Additionally, Jesus also says in Luke 6:45 that it is from the overflow of the heart that our mouth speaks.

These verses have similar messages: guarding ourselves. Be careful what we watch. Be careful what we say. Be careful what (and who) we allow into our lives.

Be careful. Be careful. Be careful.

We protect what is precious, valuable, and irreplaceable: Our children. Heirlooms. Pictures. Sentimental items that are worth little in terms of dollars but priceless to our hearts. Relationships.

During the dating season of our lives, it’s sooooooo easy to give our hearts away too quickly. We feel like we’re in love, we feel like we can trust this person, so we hand over the most precious gift we have to give, and sometimes that gift is taken for granted, crumpled, and damaged with a Return to Sender stamp on it.

In The Cinderella Rule, I encourage young women to not share extremely intimate details or secrets with their boyfriends too soon. Some things should be shared with your future spouse but only when you’re pretty sure this person is actually going to be your future spouse.

And no matter how many wonderful stories we know and hear about people getting married after only a few weeks, your heart is too precious to give away so easily. I like to say, “congratulate the exception but follow the rule,” and the rule here is to protect your heart.

That said, marriage isn’t a perfect relationship. We’ve given our heart to someone who has the power to destroy us emotionally (and vice-versa), yet we trust the safe space that we’re building together. Sometimes we still get hurt. Words are said. Voices are raised. Accusations are flung and our hearts are broken by the person who is, as God says in Genesis 2:24, part of us.

Fellow Crosswalk contributor Mindy Fitterling shares a wonderful example of what we can do to make sure we’re protecting our own hearts by looking towards what God expects of us. “How does He wish us to guard our hearts? How does he expect us to be both prudent and vulnerable?” She shares Philippians 4:8-9 and the reminder to fill our hearts and minds with things that are noble, worthy, and true.

Why Do Christians Have Such a Harder Time with Heartbreak due to Vulnerability?

Christians often feel a lot of pressure to be perfect in their relationships, and with good reason. When you’re making decisions based on your faith, it provides an opportunity for criticism from those who don’t understand or agree.

Because there is a faith element involved, we’re opening ourselves to each other in an emotionally intimate manner. After all, the deepest part of our souls is tied to our identities as Christians. Breaking the bond with someone we’ve been vulnerable with regarding our struggles and beliefs adds to the pain of a breakup, or in the case of marriage when there is a divorce.

When a relationship ends, we wonder if we’re following God’s will. What if we made a mistake? Were we too open with our hearts? As believers, we’re trying to hold ourselves to the highest standard and in turn, we’re looking for a mate who holds to that same standard.

That said, not all heartbreak is due to a breakup. Sometimes our hearts are broken due to others. When we’re vulnerable with others, we’re taking a risk, but even though we can get hurt, the reward of being loved in a deeper way can tip the scales in vulnerability’s favor.

How Do We Love Others and Still Guard Our Hearts?

How do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable while still protecting our hearts? 

There are a few ways we can practice guarding our hearts and still loving people the way God calls us to love others.

Set boundaries.

Just because someone shares their deepest darkest secrets with you doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate. Show empathy. Provide a listening ear. You don’t have to be everything to everyone, and no one should expect you to be. 

Expect the best but prepare for the worst.

Every morning on the way to school, my kids and I share what we’re excited about for the day and what, if anything, could mess us up. If we identify something that could be a problem, we talk about how to prepare ourselves with a solution if it happens (or how to prevent it from happening). I have to thank Brendon Burchard for this wisdom. My kids think it’s a “game” we play but really, I’m hoping to instill in them how to respond to situations, not react, and how to prepare themselves for any negativity. In the same way, we can love others but by having a clear understanding of how the relationship could go south, we can guard our hearts by being ready.

Most importantly, know that your heart belongs to God and He is the ultimate Comforter.

No matter how closely we guard our hearts, there is sin in this world and that sin brings pain. Sometimes that pain is a consequence of our own actions and sometimes it’s because someone else was cruel.

Romans 13:8 says that we should owe no one anything except to love them and 1 Corinthians 16:14 says that we should do everything in love. I believe that God can bless the fruit of our hands and we show the fruit of who we are as believers by loving people even through their ugliness because God definitely loves us despite ours.

Ways to Protect Your Heart without Closing Yourself Off

If we’ve been deeply hurt, it can be tempting to build a wall around our hearts, protecting and guarding it so fiercely that no one will ever be able to penetrate it. It’s true that there are some situations where people in our lives don’t deserve to ever have a space in our hearts. In those dangerous circumstances, keep the walls high.

But for the most part, when we build those thick walls around our hearts, we end up keeping out a lot of people who aren’t a danger to us. We need to let love flow from our hearts to others the way Jesus commanded because of His sacrifice for us. While we were still sinners, He died for us (see Romans 5:8) and we are commanded to love others and pray for those who persecute us (see Matthew 5:43-48).

Protect your heart by finding a group of people whom you can trust: small groups at a local church, online communities of believers who have similar interests, neighborhood communities, join an outreach program, volunteer…there are so many places to meet like-minded people.

The more love we give to others, the more love we seem to have to give. God’s well never runs dry and when we pour into His word, He pours into us. Scripture says in John 7:37-39 that whoever believes in Jesus will “out of his heart flow rivers of living water.”

My friends, we can protect our hearts and love others at the same time. Let that river flow.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Relentless_one

Bethany JettBethany Jett is a multi-award-winner for her books and marketing campaigns and is a sought-after speaker for women and teens. An entrepreneur at heart, Bethany co-owns two companies within the publishing industry.

She is a military wife to her college sweetheart and a work-from-home momma-of-boys who loves planners, suspense novels, and all things girly. 

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