Why I’ve Stopped Guarding My Heart

There’s something on the tip of my tongue.

I don’t know what it is but it’s burning in me. I think it could be the thing causing the migraine right now.

I can barely sit still as I think about what I want to say but don’t have language for yet. So here’s to hoping that somehow, as I write this, my words with transform into what has actually been wrestling inside my heart for days.

I wasn’t made for the waiting room. 

For my whole life, as I’ve grown and walked with Jesus, one of the things I’ve been trained in is how to guard my heart. Guard your heart, Courtney. Guard your heart. Guard your heart.

What does this mean?

In my mind it’s meant protect yourself. Keep yourself safe. Don’t give your heart away.

Hear me out – There is validity to this. 

We aren’t called to flippantly throw our hearts towards passions and people that are not from God. Especially when it is the wrong time and they are the wrong things.

But what happens when they are the right things?

What happens when Love begins to beg you to let your heart lead?

I’ve realized lately how risky Love is. And as a woman who struggles with wanting to maintain control over her life, I fear the totality of allowing Love to lead. Who might I be if I wholly surrender to It? What kind of decisions might I make if I let Love lead me instead of my own logic and reasoning? 

This is a terrifying reality to me.

Can’t I trust Love? Can’t I allow It to lead me into the good and pleasing will of God? God who is Love?

I still want control. And I realize it’s because I don’t completely trust my own heart. It has led me astray in moments before. It has been persuaded by beautiful words and empty promises and manipulated by false romance. How, then, can I allow Love… Love that is a matter of the heart and not the mind… to lead me? 

I can’t reason out falling in Love with Jesus. I can’t lay out enough evidence for why I should fall in Love with the Most Holy. I love Him, surely. But have I risked allowing that Love to consume me? To surrender my control and fall hopelessly into Love with Jesus?

When I fall in Love, there won’t be a logical reason for why I follow. I won’t be able to soundly prove why I will follow Him wherever He urges my heart to go. I won’t be able to argue my point for why I will obey His calling no matter what. My heart will be controlled by Love and nothing else. I will have lost control.

But He’s worth my whole heart.

He’s worth the surrender.

He can be trusted to lead and guide me into good and pleasing things.

My heart can be found completely safe within His calling.

Sometimes it feels safer to stay in the waiting room. 

We get into a comfortable place of waiting on a promise – interceding for the breakthrough. We know that we’re kept safe in the waiting room and at the right moment, the promise will come. So we gather in words and visions and promises for what might be on the other side of the waiting room. We develop expectancy. We foster unbreakable hope in the waiting room.

This is all well and good. It’s what we’re supposed to do in that season.

But how will we respond when Love calls our name? 

When He begs us out of the waiting room and into the promise? 

We must risk to believe.

We must risk to let Love lead.

We must risk to follow His calling – that He will keep us safe.

Sometimes, we are no longer called to guard our own hearts. Sometimes, when Love calls, He promises to be the One that guards our hearts instead. Sometimes, we’re supposed to open it up to whole-heartedly believing the fulfillment has arrived.

At the right time, we’re called to step out of the boat. And to maintain focus on the One who called us out of what felt so safe and comfortable. And into the risk.

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The Story of A Hopeless Heart

Hope is one of the most risky things we’re asked to hold on to as Christians. 

That might sound like a bold statement.

But hope is often met by pain and disappointment and it is one of the biggest risk we are asked to consistently take.

So why hope? Why is the Bible filled with both faith and hope; two necessary factors in walking with Jesus? Why must we choose hope time and time again?

My heart has been sick since January. Somewhere in the process, I let go of hope. I stopped believing for the best. I numbed myself to dreaming.

The pain that came from having expectations and hoping only to see them shattered or unmet was too much. And so I retreated back to my own personal limits; my own well-kept yard of not-risking. And my heart began to wither. I let go of dreams, desires, expectations… and the vibrant life in my heart began to dull. I couldn’t feel God. I couldn’t hear Him clearly. I felt abandon, dry… like I would die of hunger for Him. I  became cynical. Practical. I hated love. Didn’t believe in it.

I was physically ill most weekends from February – March; my heart often anxious and unrest in the midst of this.

Hope was too risky. And keeping my heart safe within its walls was surely the way to keep it unharmed. Right?

But God.

God, concerned for the health of my heart, pressed on it, ever-so consistently. I felt everything I didn’t want to feel as He begged my heart to hope again.

Cynical.

I filled my world with busy-ness and activities. I ran myself weak.

He continued to press.

“Why love? Why hope for the impossible best? Why hold on to dreams that are so far out of reach?” my heart fought back to Him.

But God.

Around three weeks ago, He found me at my breaking point, weary, anxious, desperate. And He crawled into the narrow gaps I had left open for Him.

He breathed, “Faith sees, and hope FEELS. And my precious one, when you choose to not hope, you choose to not feel. When you choose to not hope that there is the best in store for you, your heart becomes sick. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, my love. Choose hope. Believe the best. Believe I’m that good.” 

And I gasped for air. Alive. My heart began pumping again.

Undone by my sudden light-ness, I became aware of the necessity of hope.

Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of how many times I had been disappointed, regardless of the impossibilities that stood before me or the lack of visible breakthrough, I had to decide to choose hope. 

Hope was better than the outcome. Hope was the thing keeping my heart alive.

So, friends, while hope seems risky, don’t cut it off because you don’t see the breakthrough in the timing you imagined.

God is a God of “And suddenly.” In moments, He changes the course of events. In minutes, He brings the fulfillment. In seconds, He arrives in a better way than you ever thought possible.

Saul became Paul in an instant.

Lazarus was raised from the dead in a single moment.

It only took 3 DAYS for the sins of EVERYONE IN THE WORLD (past, present and future) to be paid for for eternity! 3 Days! 3 Days is not a long time, friends. In 3 days, Jesus was crucified and rose again and EVERYTHING CHANGED. 3 Days!

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Hope paves the way for your breakthrough. You must develop a lifestyle of unbreakable hope in your life. 

Hope that is not swayed by situations or circumstances. But hope that is founded on the truth and goodness of The Most Holy One.

Follow the calling of His voice. Risk when He says risk. Dream when He says dream. Hope when He says hope. It will never be in vain. And you will never be unprotected from His grace.

Date A Guy Who…

“He’s cute, and sweet, and funny, and has GREAT hair.” 

These would probably be things you would find in my 6th grade journal, written about whatever guy of the week I had a crush on. And that would probably be the extent of the list. The fact that he had talked to me at least once that week was also a major qualifying factor. Bonus points if you chatted me first on AIM.

Gratefully, my list of things I look for in a boyfriend has become a little less… superficial. But even now, the things I’ve realized I need aren’t the things I’ve expected.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned while dating The Boy is that dating doesn’t look how you think it’s going to look. Such is life, though. You can be as prepared as you can be, but there’s no formula for your exact relationship. You’re going to have to undergo many rounds of trial and error, finding out what works and what most definitely doesn’t. And along the way, you’re going to discover qualities about the person you are dating that you had no idea were so important.

So women, through my process, here are things I believe I should’ve added to my list…

1. Date a guy who is patient. One of the thing I am continually blown away with is The Boy’s patience. He is by far one of the most patient people I have ever met. Even when things irritate or frustrate him, he never raises his voice or yells. And I am a woman who needs a handful of grace. Unfortunately, I do have stereotypical mood swings. I am not always nice. And I am not always loving. But he has shown countless amounts of patience towards me when I am not so deserving.

2. Date a guy who isn’t afraid of your emotions. This one is huge. Women’s emotions are a lot for guys to handle. Very rarely, if ever, do they feel things as deeply as women do. So living life in close proximity with a human who feels things on a totally different level than they do is probably…. honestly… a little draining at times. Date a man who isn’t intimidated by the fact that you have emotions. Date a man who won’t run away from them, but instead will sit there and listen to what you’re feeling. And later, you can admit you were acting crazy and you can both laugh about it together.

3. Date a guy who doesn’t pursue you perfectly. Because where’s the depth in that? Now hear me out about this one. I didn’t say “doesn’t pursue you well.” But a perfect pursuit is overrated. And honestly, there’s only One who is the perfect Pursuer. Date a man who pursues you as best as he personally can, and who is consistently trying to learn more about how to pursue you better. Date a man who is a student of your heart… who is willing to take the risk and time to fail and get up and try again. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly will teach you how to communicate in ways you didn’t know how to before. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly will allow you to understand your own heart better. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly, but pursues you with vulnerability, enthusiasm and teachability is a game-changer. Do not compare your pursuit with the relationships around you. This.. this right here in front of you… this is YOUR pursuit… YOUR relationship. Date a man who learns the keys to your heart and remembers them.

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4. Date a guy who isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings. In my mind, there’s nothing more irritating than someone who doesn’t tell you how they’re really feeling because they’re too scared they’ll offend you. You can’t have an intimate relationship with that person because you never know what’s really going on. Date a guy who tells you what he really is thinking and feeling and isn’t afraid it’s going to hurt your feelings. I’m not saying he communicates his thoughts with anger, bitterness or finger-pointing. But he isn’t afraid to tell you he doesn’t agree with you or that how you acted earlier that day really hurt his feelings. Or even better, date a guy who isn’t afraid to call you out on your junk, but calls you up to the woman God created you to be. Date a guy who challenges your thought patterns. Date a guy who calls out when you’re believing lies.

5. Date a guy with flaws. There’s an episode in Parks and Rec when Ann Perkins is first dating Chris Traeger and likes him but can’t find anything wrong with him. She says “He’s like a perfect human person. I can’t find anything wrong with him.” Then, not long after that, Chris gets embarrassingly sick with the flu and Ann has to take care of him in all of his.. well.. mess. And she is relieved that she has finally seen some of his flaws.

THIS IS REAL LIFE.

Dating someone who is flawless is both unrealistic and dumb. I’m not saying major, red-flag flaws here. But I am encouraging you to date someone who isn’t afraid to let you see their flaws. It takes vulnerability and a ton of bravery to let someone see the places in you that aren’t perfect. Dating someone is…

their flaws + your flaws = your relationship (iron sharpening iron)

When someone allows you to see their flaws, it also brings out your own. And with flaws out in the open, you go into situations together fully dependent on God to be the Perfect One and make you stronger. Meanwhile, you press in and sharpen each other, making each other look more and more like Jesus. Sure, it’s a little difficult at times. But it’s good. It’s soooo good. Don’t be afraid of the flaws. You have just as many. Learn to work through the mess with someone, not alone. Their flaws rubbing up against your flaws is just part of the process.