Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
I recently experienced some situations that allowed me to see clearly that my heart was unguarded. The Holy Spirit began to enlighten me of the broken fence in my life – one that invited certain types of people to walk across the lawn of my heart, leaving their unwanted tracks behind.
This started many years ago from my childhood where I was rejected by many. I was overweight, lonely and mostly friendless. I tried vainly to fit in and some would tolerate me while others would tease me mercilessly. As I got older and began to shed the weight, I wanted so badly to be liked I began hanging around certain people just to be seen. I ended up with a best friend, but in retrospect the friendship was very lopsided. As I got older and still craved friendship and for someone to accept me for who I was (and not for who they thought I was or for what they could get from me) I ended up in a marriage for almost ten years where I bent over backwards in the hopes of receiving love and attention in return, which did not happen. So I am single again.
Recently, I reflected on why I seem to attract people who only wanted something from me and who did not really want to be around me for who I was inside. Then the Holy Spirit began to unveil my eyes through an unusual event, with a coworker’s unwanted physical contact on the job. As I sat there at my desk, shocked at what took place, I realized that it was not the only time that happened to me. That was just the first time I realized how easily accessible I had become to others. There was no “Do Not Cross” line erected around my heart’s borders. From that day on I began to “clean house”. It wasn’t easy.
One of the ministers in my church advised me to confront the guy about his unwanted physical contact on which I acted immediately. He apologized and told me he realized he made a mistake when he saw that I did not welcome his actions. And did I mention he is married? Then the Lord started showing me other instances in the past where this man had encroached on my territory and I said or did nothing. Other men in my life (both now and in the past) started marching across my conscious mind and their actions revealed their true hearts and intentions.
You see, many people would like to feel as if they control others outside of their God-given territory. What I mean is this: many unruly married men would like to think they have claims on other women aside from their wives, but it is done in such a subtle way that their actions can be overlooked or go unnoticed for years. They are called emotional attachments. Emotional affairs. Right. Those. These women end up consoling these men, helping them solve their marital problems and their child discipline problems. These women offer up gift ideas to these married men for their wives and children. Before you know it, the conversations get very intimate and too detailed and a line, a boundary, has been crossed. The men (or women) who start this behavior now have someone they know they can turn to for emotional support when things go wrong in their lives.
I am the caring type, which is why my first career choice was medicine. After I realized I could not handle death and dying I had to change my vocation. As I am being shaped and preparing for my greatest call in life which still involves caring for others, I must learn to guard my heart and its issues. You see, without my fence to protect my heart I cannot focus fully on what God has in store for me in the future.
I believe God is preparing lifelong companionship for me with someone who will love me for who I am and not (just) for what I can do for him. For that relationship to flourish I need to shut off and cut off every relationship that could be brought into question. This also includes unhealthy woman-to-woman relationships and any relationship that does not edify or consumes all of my free time and space. In fact I had to end one of those abruptly sometime ago because of a very dominant, controlling spirit. I heard someone say something to this effect recently: “Be mindful when someone speaks the truth and it binds you. The intention of that truth is not good. It is meant to keep you down and to condemn you. Truth stated with the right intentions and from a clear heart will set you free!” That was a “Selah” moment for me right there!
So far I’ve identified these aspects of erecting strong boundaries:
- Close off unhealthy same-sex relationships – these are the ones that could jeopardize any future romantic relationship you may enter.
- Set a clear boundary around yourself so those of the opposite sex (married and single) know that you are UNAVAILABLE. When Mr. Right shows up, he will know that there is no competition from anyone else. When you are too available, others will feel entitled to your time, your energy and after a while, to your body.
- Commit your heart, mind and soul fully to hearing directly from God’s throne room. Nothing else is a good substitute.
- Do not worship any other man or woman; it leads to unhealthy choices.
- Guard your heart. Guard your mind and choose friendships wisely. Filter what you share about yourself with those you do not know well, as the more someone knows about you the more they will feel they have the right to get access to you anytime.
- Finally, read The Plural Thing: Spiritually Preparing for your Soul Mate written by Linda Dominique Grosvenor, a friend of mine.* Read it slowly so it all sinks in.
Cover your wellspring. Hide it well from the enemy of your soul. Then stand back and watch God honor your decision to live out His Word.
*This is my voluntary endorsement for Linda. Her book is really life-changing. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy.