Are You Guarding Your Heart or Just Plain Guarded?
Are you guarding your heart or are you just guarded? That's the question I felt God asking me (and one I have to constantly ask myself). I had a history of being guarded in relationships, but now as a believer, I felt like I was doing what God had called me to do; guarding my heart because from it flows all the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23 NIV). Was I experiencing spiritual growth or being led by my past experiences? How would I know the difference? Keep reading to find out....
I had reason to be guarded. That was my rationale! Not only did I grow up without my father, the way in which my father transitioned from my life taught me at a young age that the world was not safe and people weren't to be trusted. When you lose a parent or loved one to tragedy at a young age, the trauma impacts your brain in a way that can potentially make you think the world is against you and you must protect yourself from it. This can lead to being emotionally guarded. However, being guarded doesn't always come from daddy issues and every woman with 'daddy issues' may not be guarded. Being guarded can also result from broken relationships, disappointment, betrayal, or abuse. Simply put, it is a defense mechanism or a person's way of coping with pain. It may sound like an okay way to protect oneself from being hurt again, but keeping people away could also be a way of keeping oneself from love. It is like building a wall in an attempt to protect yourself, but in actuality, you are locking yourself away from relationships.
A person who is guarded has put boundaries in place that are fixed and rigid. This person doesn't have healthy boundaries. They are actually overbounded. They avoid intimacy, deep connection with others, and are led by past hurts and fear of rejection.
I do not believe God desires for us to be "guarded" because he created us for connection. He said, "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18); therefore, I believe building a wall around our hearts to keep others out is not His preference for us.
Guarding Your Heart:
On the hand, a person that is guarding their heart God's way is one that is led by God, and not by negative emotions from the past, no matter how justified these emotions are. Their boundaries, specifically, relating to letting others in are fluid and flexible. They open and close when necessary. This person is not afraid to say 'no,' and they are not afraid to say, 'yes'. These are considered healthy personal boundaries. This person seeks God for direction in their relationships and is open to give and receive love. They are willing to be vulnerable with others and embraces connection. This person is mindful of what is allowed into their heart and what flows from it.
Pretend your heart is a gate.
- Guarded is a gate that is locked and welded shut, no one comes in. There is a sign that says, 'leave me alone' or 'don't even think about it' lol 🙅🏽
- Guarding your heart would be a gate that is locked, but it presents the possibility of opening and closing. It is more inviting than the 'guarded gate'. The sign on this gate says, 'welcome, feel free to walk by or take a seat in front of me. Let's engage and I will decide whether I will open up to allow you in further'. 🙋🏽
Notice, I didn't say that the 'guarding your heart' gate is always left open. A gate that is always open isn't healthy either. This represents a heart that is passive or underbounded. This person doesn't have any personal boundaries. They are afraid to say, 'no' out of fear of rejection and tend to always say, 'yes' to be accepted. This person is not guarding their heart but is allowing their heart to be swept away by anyone or anything.
Ultimately, a person who is guarding their heart is trusting God as they trust others. They understand their heart must be protected, but are not led by fear. Instead they are led by faith! Being led by faith is more loving and more peaceful.
The person with the guarded heart must ask God to heal their heart! Ask God to mend the broken pieces and put their heart back together better than it was before. This person can then renew their mind with God's word and other emotional health information so that they can develop healthy and balanced relationship boundaries. Now the question remains, are you guarding your heart or just plain guarded? For Me? I was guarded, but now I am learning more and more each day to "guard my heart," God's way. My hope is that you are too!