Above All Else, Guard Your Heart
(I have been on a serious y'all kick lately. I would never say it out loud- I would be humiliated. I have never lived in Texas, but I have enough Texas family -Hi Singletary's, Lakes, Beckhams, Foxworths, and Dorans! - to hear it all the time. And so, I've decided I can type it. Another reason I have adopted y'all is because people always call me Hillary.... a la Fresh Prince...when I say 'Okay, guys...')
The Spirit has been moving like crazy in me lately as it relates to guarding my heart. I think every believer out there learns in the wee steps of this faith that guarding our heart is crucial. Why? Because 'from it flows the wellsprings of life.'
It sounds really important in scripture but doesn't feel quite as important as, say, loving our neighbor, repentance, forgiveness, purity, honesty, patience, prayer...and so on. Honestly, it's way at the back of the back of the list for most of us. But Jesus did not intend fort it to be that way. He meant for us to take it as seriously, if not more seriously, than all of those things. From the Word itself:
Proverbs 4: 23
NIV: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
NLT: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
GWT: Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.
Pretty Serious stuff. If something is going to 'determine the course of my life,' I want to be doing it right. Recently, though, I have been trying to determine what guarding my heart means for me personally. The second I stepped out on that mission, God really did His part (as He always does) in showing me exactly what it means.
Unless you have been paddling in a kayak alone in the middle of the ocean for the past six months, with no radio or phone or messenger birds, you have heard about the book ' Fifty Shades of Grey.' If not, I will gladly enlighten you. A young jabillionare entrepeneur (Christian Grey) is interviewed by some girl and he hires her to basically be his sex toy. Whips, chains, handcuffs- lace, leather and feathers I'm sure. The End. I am not giving this summary from my own knoweledge, however.
I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I may be the only woman on this planet to say that so I had to make sure it was visible! You see, I love to read. I probably read a book a month, and during the summer that triples. Reading is one of my favorite past times and I love me a New York Times Best Seller. This is why last month while my hubs and I were in the airport, I walked proudly back from the bookstore with this lovely, delicious read. I'm always so excited about the books I'm about to start as I have a large lineup and almost always can't wait to get to the next one. Against his wishes, I usually read the back cover to Oj and tell him everything I know about the the book before starting. I immediately start the book and give him a play by play at the beginning of exactly why the book is so incredible. (Why does he put up with this? I must find out.) So when I came back with FSOG and just sat down with it-still in the plastic bag-on my lap and flipped open Vogue magazine, he was thoroughly confused.
"What book are you starting? Are you excited?"
"Yea, really excited."
"...well, what's it about?"
"I don't really know" (true) "Sex?"
At this, he opened to the middle of the book, read the first six lines and handed it back to me. He told me I didn't want to read this, and I should return it. (Remind me to talk about the struggles of submission in my next post!) Halfway angry and all the way humiliated, I walked right back to the store and returned it.
I know that not everyone will understand this, and plenty wont agree, but I think it's clear as day that this book was created as a fantasy. It paints a picture in beautiful writing that gives us just enough to visualize what these people may look like- to act out every word in our minds. As women- being the incredible creatures we are- we are emotional and creative beings. Romance novelists don't cater to men. Why? They know that 90% of men aren't going to curl up with a blanket and some tea on the couch reading their fantasies page after page. That's what the porn industry is for. Men are visual, Women are emotional. I personally believe that the fantasies and scenes created in this book would serve me the same as my husband spending an hour with whatever XXX site out there. We already have enough to battle in this world as it is, why add things to our own plate? What good is there to come from emotionally attaching ourselves to characters that are behind closed doors for a reason? So yes, I returned Fifty Shades of Grey. By force at first, but this is because I have a husband looking out for my heart as well. Guarding our heart sometimes means missing out on the "it" book, "it" movie, or "it" TV show. Didn't see that one comin' huh? We must guard our heart against lust.
Another place I would never have thought guarding my heart would come into play is in one of my favorite cell phone apps of all time: Instagram. Once again, this doesn't apply to the lone paddler in the middle of the ocean...for everyone else, I'm sure you've heard of this app. It's a place to take and share photos and make you feel fabulous about your photography skills. I'm quite the picture taker, and an equally avid picture stalker so this app is my dream.
Fortunately, all my favorite bloggers, Fashion Designers and Interior Designers have an Instagram. Unfortunately, three other groups of people all have an Instagram account as well:
1. The Models- or girls that think they are models.
This is the most popular account on good ol' Instagram. Nothing makes your feel bad about yourself like stumbling on some girl's incredible photoshoot in the Maldives in the teeniest of bikinis... Especially if you have just posted a photo of your Stuffed French Toast. We as women are very prone to comparing. It usually starts off as admiration and motivation, but so quickly turns to envy. I think Instagram has become one of Satan's favorite working spots because as it so often is, the sin is subtle. Am I motivating myself or tearing myself down? Will Kim Kardashian's mirror shots really make me happy for her and her life and her perfect eyelashes and cleavage? Or will it just stir up insecurities? Believe it or not, this is a place to be very careful, ladies. We must guard our hearts against coveting- As innocent as it may seem, the line between admiration and jealousy is almost too thin to play with...steer clear of this altogether.
2. The mind boggling, incredibly talented, 'how did you get that good at ______.
(fill in the blank with whatever your passion is.)
These people will quickly get to your heart. For me personally, this is the Artist realm of the Instagram world. I believe my artistic and creative talents are a blessing and a gift from God. I am so thankful for them and am constantly fine tuning my skill. I have to remind myself of that- outloud- when I come across a slew of artists who have that 'you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me' talent. Before I know it, I start to question myself and my gift. "Am I ever going to be that good?" The second you feel a switch in your spirit from inspiration to degrading is when you know to leave it alone and Praise God for your gift instead. We must guard our heart against envy.
3. The Christian Woman who is exactly where you want to be in your walk with Christ.
I follow a certain person on Instagram that constantly gives me gut-check as it relates to my faith. She is a fantastic woman of faith and I am constantly inspired by her words of wisdom. Sometimes, however, I am a little bamboozled by her photos. They have a way of really convicting me and making me nervous that I don't have as many Bible Studies, quiet times, or incredible revelations in the Word. We must guard our hearts against comparing our walks. I think it is so important to surround yourself with people who will inspire you spiritually. It is our job to remember that everyone's walk is different and though we are called to be constantly growing, we are not called to be anyone else but ourselves.