Guarding My Heart

So here is a graphic that has been making it’s way around FB, and once again I am prompted to remark on it.

At first glance, I (of course) love the sentiment of this.  Who hasn’t had that relationship (or relationships) where you felt like you did all the work to keep it going, or where you were always the one to compromise to keep things on an even keel, or where you had to be very careful of your words while the other party had much greater leeway, or where there was a disparity of power (and therefore balance) that was necessary to keep the peace?  I would venture to say it is a rare person who has not, and when faced with the bare bones of the (non)relationship, it’s a rare person who has not had to weigh whether or not the person in question was worth the effort.

What a terrible thing to say.  I’m actually really bothered by the fact that the reality of my life includes having had to make this choice on more than one occasion.  I’m bothered, in fact, on a deeply spiritual level, because at some point I am pondering whether or not I am the one who has made the faulty choice.  Am I the one who has been lackadaisical in my efforts?  Am I the one who has been the difficult party, ultra-sensitive to slights, or maintaining a superior position in the relationship?  Am I the one who has made the relationship value-less, or allowed it to disintegrate because of my own hubris or refusal to compromise?  I am certain that has been the case in some instances.

But not in all.

I am reminded of Proverts 4:23, which cautions: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  And while I think this most naturally applies to courtship, it is apropos to every relationship.  In my own life, I’ve seen my self start to disappear as I allowed being in the relationship to take precedence over whether or not it was good for me.  I’ve allowed myself to be shunted to a second tier status in order continue a peaceful relationship, regardless of the fact that a true friendship could not survive (and frankly, should not survive) the imbalance.  I’ve said & done things to maintain relationships that I’m not proud of, and that I would nearly die of humiliation to admit.  I’ve allowed promises to be broken, advantage to be taken, love to be withheld, and treatment so shabby it’s embarrassing.  I’ve failed to protect my heart because to do so was scary, and involved confrontation & risk, and (ultimately) involved (perhaps) being lonely for a while.

I have learned.

It has almost always been much later than it should have been, but I learned nevertheless.

And this is not to say that I haven’t grieved the loss of those relationships for which resolution or redemption has not been possible up to now.  I have, and I have analyzed my role in their demise many, many times .  But in the end, I know I can’t reserve a space in my heart for someone who doesn’t want to stay, who doesn’t make the effort to stay, or who would stay but whittle away at my heart little by little until there was nothing of me left.  It may be selfish, but preserving me so I can be present in the working relationships of my life is where I believe my efforts are rightly focused.

God knew what he was saying when he reminded us to guard the wellspring of life.  When I am broken and hurting, I can’t be the person I need to be in the relationships I have.  So for now, I will strive for peace in my heart with regard to those losses, and I will leave the door open for true redemption.  Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t, but losing myself in the pursuit of it is not an option.

I am grateful for the timely reminder that causes me to pause and reflect.

I am grateful for the blessings of the sweet and lovely people who make the effort to stay in my heart.

I am grateful, most of all, that God holds my heart in his hand, and guards it when I am incapable of doing so myself.

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