Guess what? Your heart is important! In fact, from it flows life itself (a wise guy in a tunic once said...) Which is why, girls and boys, we need to be very careful about protecting our heart from getting broken.
The thing is, your heart is actually a vessel. Just as our physical heart pumps blood all around our body to bring it life (if you got no blood, you got no life), so it is in a spiritual sense - whatever is in your heart will flow, and affect, the rest of your life - so you better look after that thing! It's precious. If it breaks, you'll end up with a mess, and that mess won't just be in the area of romance - it'll seep into every area of your life.
Our heart is precious and if we don’t protect it, we make it vulnerable to being damaged.
Anything that has value, also has boundaries.
In fact, the very existence of boundaries tell us that whatever is inside those boundaries is of value. The role of boundaries, ultimately, is to protect the valuable thing inside. Ever noticed that the precious gems in a museum are guarded with ropes, security cameras and a glass case? Did you observe that the expensive fine china isn’t kept with the rest of the two dollar shop mugs - but up high in your Grandma’s special cabinet? How about your precious jewellery - do you leave it on the kitchen bench next to the dirty dishes or is there a special box or drawer you keep it in? Even the sunglasses on our face protect what is really valuable: our eyes. In biblical times, great big walls were built around the cities to protect them from intruders and control what was allowed to come in and influence the precious community inside those walls.
Interestingly, the bible consistently speaks of God repairing and building up the “broken down walls” of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is one big, fat analogy for the human heart.
/// Psalm 51:18 ///
“Make Zion the place you delight in, repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.”
If you do not have walls (aka BOUNDARIES) around your heart, you are not protecting it. You’re allowing anyone to intrude, and releasing control to them. Intruders (even well-meaning ones!) can break things. That’s how you wind up with a broken heart.
So how do we do this with others in our life? What about our family, our friends - what about that someone we have feelings for?! How do we protect our hearts, and build relationship with people at the same time? Can we build healthy friendship with someone we have feelings for?
YES! It’s called friendship with BOUNDARIES. You’re best off learning how to have boundaries right here, right now. Because you’ll need them for the rest of your life - their use is not limited to waiting until marriage to have sex or holding hands with your boyfie. You need to have boundaries in all your relationships (yes, even within marriage!) because guess what? Your HEART is involved, to some degree, in ALL the relationships you will ever have. And we’re called to guard that heart. No one else can do that for you, my friend!
BE A GATEKEEPER!
Your heart is a temple for the Holy Spirit - no seriously - He lives, dwells, resides, and has made His permanent home in there. (Don't believe me? Check out Ephesians 3:17) Which means you are the guardian of that temple. You are what the bible describes as a “gate keeper”. In the Old Testament, the keeper of the gates for the temple would stand at the place where one would enter and exit (that would be the, uh, gates) and guard who went in and out. They would give the green or red light, ensuring who went in was worthy and sanctified to do so.
As the gatekeeper of your heart, it’s your job to watch over who and what is allowed in your heart. You must choose who and what goes in and who and what comes out, to protect the quality of your life - remember, the quality of your heart affects the quality of your life:
/// PROVERBS 4:23 ///
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Like the biblical gatekeepers, ensure that what goes in is sanctified. Ensure that it's clean and worthy of entering your heart - not full of sin, lies, deception, disrespect and the like.
Now, it’s unhealthy to have a gate that is permanently locked, bolted, and closed off. This is unnecessary and unbalanced self-protection. You want walls around your heart for protection, but you don’t want to close yourself off from everyone around you.
You’re not a jailer. You’re a gate-keeper.
The function of gates is to open and close.
Conversely, it’s equally unhealthy to have a gate that is permanently open - swung wide to let any man, woman and their dog to come and go as they please, treating your heart like a petrol station. Don't allow people to come in, get what they need, and leave without a moment's notice. You wouldn’t leave the door constantly open in your house, would you? No, that would be insane. Why? Because the walls on a house protect the possessions and human beings inside that house, and the door enables you to choose who gets to come and go - anyone who does not prove themselves worthy to respect your things and your family inside that house, will have the door firmly closed on them (I hope!)
How is it any different with our hearts? Some of you need to close the door a little more often - you’ve been letting anyone inside, and make yourself vulnerable to the point of danger. You've let unworthy people in and before you know it, everything is broken, whether they snuck in like a conniving thief, or accidentally broke everything like a well-meaning but clumsy toddler. Just make sure they’re trustworthy, mature, respectful and honouring of that which is inside, ok?
On the other hand, some of you need to open the door - you’ve kept it closed off from anybody who’s tried to come close in order to protect yourself. As a result, you find it difficult to become close with anyone because you find it impossible to trust others around you.
Be encouraged - whether you find yourself in category A or category B, you can become a balanced gate keeper.
You don’t have to keep your door constantly open, and you don't have to keep it permanently closed.
It should be always moving: opening and closing, depending on who you’re with, when you’re with them and what’s going on around you. It’s all wrapped up in that wonderful word: boundaries. Honouring your needs while honouring the needs of others in your life as well.
Healthy heart, healthy life!
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