Why Guarding Your Heart Doesn’t Work

Guarding your heart

Beth 5When I was about 5 years old my mother dropped me off at a friend’s house who lived across town. My friend and I were playing happily in her backyard when she decided to go inside for a minute. At about that same time, a boy from next door came over to play as well. But when he found a stranger in his friend’s backyard, he promptly and sternly told me that I needed to leave!

Since my friend was not there to defend me and my right to be there, I felt compelled to leave. Who was I to argue with this defiant expert on backyard territories? He seemed to know his stuff!

So I left … walking back across town (about a mile) to my own house in the cold winds of fall or spring. I know this because I remember it being cold enough that by the time I neared my home my nose was running profusely—so my sleeve became my handy wipe!

As you can imagine, my friend’s mother eventually discovered my escape and immediately called my mother to alert her. By that time I was already marching up to the front yard of my house, where she frantically greeted me.

I remember that day because it stands as a symbol of my fear of rejection and my incessant need to guard my heart.

In my marriage my husband has often figuratively stood as the little neighbor boy, pointing his finger towards the exit—whether he intended to reject me or not.

The sad thing is, I’ve often responded in the same way my five-year-old self did on that cool, crisp day—running from rejection.

God’s been working on my tendency to guard my heart a lot lately. I don’t have many profound conclusions about it yet, but I do know that in the 25+ years I’ve been married, it never works.

It always hopelessly pushes me further away from those God wants me to risk loving.

My heart is bound to be crushed and even kicked to the curb, because Jesus never promised me deliverance from pain in this life. He does, however, promise to be the Keeper and Guardian of my heart—and yours too! I don’t have to, and never should, take that role because my heart is His. He promises to use whatever pain I’m experiencing to conform me into His image. So why would I want to run from that—that beautiful refinement?

Are you running away from your spouse out of fear of rejection?

How do you try {in vain} to guard your heart?

Step aside and let Jesus stand guard over your heart today! I promise you won’t be disappointed!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

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Linking up with – NOBH, Monday’s Musings, Matrimonial Monday, Playdates with God and Marriage Monday’s

  • Lu

    Wow! Excellent post! You had me at the first few sentences!

    • Aww, thanks so much, Lu! I really appreciate your kind words and for stopping by!

  • Lu

    Wow! Excellent post! You had me at the first few sentences!

  • Mai Bateson

    Love the post! I can relate to that… very inspiring and
    motivating! This article is depicting about unconditional LOVE! 😀

    • Yes, we all want it, but the only true source of it, I’ve found, is God. Now, if I’ll just remember that when the icy winds of rejection blow and run to Him instead of away from my hubby. 🙂 Thanks so much, Mai, for stopping by and encouraging me!

  • Mai Bateson

    Love the post! I can relate to that… very inspiring and
    motivating! This article is depicting about unconditional LOVE! 😀

  • Nancy Sturm

    Ah, Beth, I can relate. Keeping that heart open to possible hurts is not always easy to do. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing this post.

    • Yes, but God is reminding me that He is the Great Healer of all those hurts and I thought it might strike close to home for others who fear this. Thanks so much for coming by, Nancy. I appreciate the encouragement, my friend!

  • Nancy Sturm

    Ah, Beth, I can relate. Keeping that heart open to possible hurts is not always easy to do. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing this post.

  • Pam

    Great illustration, Beth….we can all relate….especially me :o)

    • Yes, it seems we have this in common, my friend. Maybe that’s why we feel so comfortable with each other. 🙂 Love you!

  • Heather C.

    Love it!

    • Thanks so much, Heather. I appreciate your kind words, my friend. 🙂

  • Heather C.

    Love it!

  • Great message of the unintended consequences of self-protection. Cutting off intimacy and vulnerability. http://choosetotrust.com/2013/04/the-accepting-marriage/

    • Thanks, Scott. It’s a work in progress, that’s for sure! I’ll swing by your place next. Thanks for coming by and weighing in!

  • Great message of the unintended consequences of self-protection. Cutting off intimacy and vulnerability. http://choosetotrust.com/2013/04/the-accepting-marriage/

  • Aww, thanks so much, Lu! I really appreciate your kind words and for stopping by!

  • Yes, we all want it, but the only true source of it, I’ve found, is God. Now, if I’ll just remember that when the icy winds of rejection blow and run to Him instead of away from my hubby. 🙂 Thanks so much, Mai, for stopping by and encouraging me!

  • Yes, but God is reminding me that He is the Great Healer of all those hurts and I thought it might strike close to home for others who fear this. Thanks so much for coming by, Nancy. I appreciate the encouragement, my friend!

  • Yes, it seems we have this in common, my friend. Maybe that’s why we feel so comfortable with each other. 🙂 Love you!

  • Thanks so much, Heather. I appreciate your kind words, my friend. 🙂

  • Thanks, Scott. It’s a work in progress, that’s for sure! I’ll swing by your place next. Thanks for coming by and weighing in!

  • I can so tell that is you from your Kindergarten picture. So adorable.

    And that story is precious. Makes me smile (since you did make it hope safely) at the innocence of children to take what others say at face value. And then we still believe what others say (or what we think they are saying) as we grow up. Running from rejection or fighting in the face of it–neither are good options but I’ve tried both. Letting Jesus guard our hearts is definitely the best and only truly viable option!

    • Yes, it really reminds me that children are so impressionable–impressed and shaped for years to come! I’m grateful that God is helping me to let go of this fear. I only wish I’d done it sooner! But then, like everything in my life, it’s a work in progress! 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement, Lisa.

  • I can so tell that is you from your Kindergarten picture. So adorable.

    And that story is precious. Makes me smile (since you did make it hope safely) at the innocence of children to take what others say at face value. And then we still believe what others say (or what we think they are saying) as we grow up. Running from rejection or fighting in the face of it–neither are good options but I’ve tried both. Letting Jesus guard our hearts is definitely the best and only truly viable option!

  • Wow Beth, I can just picture you running in that cold spring weather. Your post reminds of a particular tendency I picked up as a child and unknowingly carried into my marriage.

    Some time back, my husband pointed it out and i was shaken to my boots, when i traced its roots. For me it felt natural. For him it was very odd.

    I agree with you, when we try to protect our hearts, we end up shutting out God and the opportunity to grow and love (and be loved) in deeper ways than we’ve ever known. It;’s a risky thing, to open up our wounds for His inspection and healing, but then that’s the only way to health, freedom and abundant living. Thanks so much for this reminder today. Beautiful story and a such a pretty photo!

    • Isn’t it amazing how those childhood wounds seem as normal as breathing. But then we have to learn how to function without it and it’s like someone’s cut off our oxygen! 🙂 I’m so glad you were able to receive your husband’s observations and deal with the issue. I’ve known about this problem in my life for awhile but God just keeps pulling back layer after layer throughout the years. It’s amazing and awful all at the same time. I’m just glad we have a redeeming God who never gives up on us! Thanks so much for your sweet friendship, Ngina! I appreciate you!

  • Wow Beth, I can just picture you running in that cold spring weather. Your post reminds of a particular tendency I picked up as a child and unknowingly carried into my marriage.

    Some time back, my husband pointed it out and i was shaken to my boots, when i traced its roots. For me it felt natural. For him it was very odd.

    I agree with you, when we try to protect our hearts, we end up shutting out God and the opportunity to grow and love (and be loved) in deeper ways than we’ve ever known. It;’s a risky thing, to open up our wounds for His inspection and healing, but then that’s the only way to health, freedom and abundant living. Thanks so much for this reminder today. Beautiful story and a such a pretty photo!

  • rboerner

    Love your picture! When reading this the song, “Running” by Hillsong came to my mind. Running from our issues unfortunately never resolves anything but like the song says, “We are running, chasing after all that you are, We are running, cause all that you are is all that we want now” I am so grateful that I have you in my life to experience a God-given friendship where we don’t have to guard our hearts! Love and appreciate your honesty!

    • I love that song! It’s the kind of running I need to do–into God’s waiting arms. Thanks so much for your friendship and support, Becky. You are a treasure to me!

  • rboerner

    Love your picture! When reading this the song, “Running” by Hillsong came to my mind. Running from our issues unfortunately never resolves anything but like the song says, “We are running, chasing after all that you are, We are running, cause all that you are is all that we want now” I am so grateful that I have you in my life to experience a God-given friendship where we don’t have to guard our hearts! Love and appreciate your honesty!

  • betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspo

    Growing up in an abusing home I learned early to protect myself. Which is why I got married at 17. My husband by 17 had a iron gate around his heart. It was not until we got saved, 15 years later that we begin to let the Lord into those heavily locked hearts. There are still times after 49 years I want to throw the chains on again till I come back to who I am in Christ. I love my husband but honestly God loves me more and He gives me courage to keep my heart open and allow Him to guard it. Great post.

    • Isn’t it crazy how easy it is to go back to those old, broken and enslaving ways, Betty? Satan deceives us into thinking “this time around they’ll work” but they never do. I’m so glad you’ve been able to break free from the wounds of your past and run into the arms of Jesus. He’s the One who will keep us safe! Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, my friend!

  • betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspo

    Growing up in an abusing home I learned early to protect myself. Which is why I got married at 17. My husband by 17 had a iron gate around his heart. It was not until we got saved, 15 years later that we begin to let the Lord into those heavily locked hearts. There are still times after 49 years I want to throw the chains on again till I come back to who I am in Christ. I love my husband but honestly God loves me more and He gives me courage to keep my heart open and allow Him to guard it. Great post.

  • A cutie pie then and now, Beth!

    The crux of the problem is that we must have an open heart to love, yet in doing so we open it to pain as well. And you are so right-running away doesn’t fix anything, nor does closing the door of our hearts so it is only open a teensy bit, as though we could possibly give or receive love in measured doses.

    No, we need to put the guardianship of our hearts where it belongs, and know when we are hurting, it is there we head for peace.

    • Have you been looking into my journal, Kim? You seem to know my mode of operation very well! haha! Yes, giving love in measured doses as to avoid being hurt, is bound to fail! Been there and done that one too many times!

      Thanks so much for coming by! You know I always love seeing your smiling face around here, my friend!

      • LOL, Beth. Great minds, and all that. 😀

  • A cutie pie then and now, Beth!

    The crux of the problem is that we must have an open heart to love, yet in doing so we open it to pain as well. And you are so right-running away doesn’t fix anything, nor does closing the door of our hearts so it is only open a teensy bit, as though we could possibly give or receive love in measured doses.

    No, we need to put the guardianship of our hearts where it belongs, and know when we are hurting, it is there we head for peace.

  • Oh, that picture. What a doll. 🙂

    Early in my marriage, I did just this, Beth. Ran away every chance I was given. You get to the heart of it here–guarding my heart. Afraid of being hurt, I took moves that I thought would protect from that. Trouble with that? It kept us from deep intimacy that is the crux of good relationship. These years later, of course, it’s easy to look back and diagnose the problem. I’m grateful you are speaking into this problem for others who are in it right now. As always, good words, my friend.

    • Yes, Laura, you’ve hit the nail on the head! When we keep our hearts protected from our spouses, we keep them from entering our hearts as well.

      And I so appreciate your honesty as well, Laura. Thanks for being such a special encourager in my life. It means a lot! 🙂

  • laura boggess

    Oh, that picture. What a doll. 🙂

    Early in my marriage, I did just this, Beth. Ran away every chance I was given. You get to the heart of it here–guarding my heart. Afraid of being hurt, I took moves that I thought would protect from that. Trouble with that? It kept us from deep intimacy that is the crux of good relationship. These years later, of course, it’s easy to look back and diagnose the problem. I’m grateful you are speaking into this problem for others who are in it right now. As always, good words, my friend.

  • Yes, it really reminds me that children are so impressionable–impressed and shaped for years to come! I’m grateful that God is helping me to let go of this fear. I only wish I’d done it sooner! But then, like everything in my life, it’s a work in progress! 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement, Lisa.

  • Have you been looking into my journal, Kim? You seem to know my mode of operation very well! haha! Yes, giving love in measured doses as to avoid being hurt, is bound to fail! Been there and done that one too many times!

    Thanks so much for coming by! You know I always love seeing your smiling face around here, my friend!

  • Yes, Laura, you’ve hit the nail on the head! When we keep our hearts protected from our spouses, we keep them from entering our hearts as well.

    And I so appreciate your honesty as well, Laura. Thanks for being such a special encourager in my life. It means a lot! 🙂

  • LOL, Beth. Great minds, and all that. 😀

  • I think so many of us can relate to this. Yes, definitely I have been there. I have learned with my husband to open up and show my emotion. And he accepts that. He embraces that. He wants that – and he has never rejected me….even when it’s been a bit messy at times. 🙂 What an important lesson in learning to live in the strength of the Lord!

  • I think so many of us can relate to this. Yes, definitely I have been there. I have learned with my husband to open up and show my emotion. And he accepts that. He embraces that. He wants that – and he has never rejected me….even when it’s been a bit messy at times. 🙂 What an important lesson in learning to live in the strength of the Lord!

  • Wow, I could really hear your heart in this post. It’s interesting because I guard my heart when it comes to everyone except my husband. He’s the one I trust the most and lean on with regard to every aspect of my life. I definitely don’t do that with anyone else. He’s my one person in life that I am completely vulnerable with and don’t worry about rejection. But that is certainly not the case with other people in my life and I’m working on that :).

  • Wow, I could really hear your heart in this post. It’s interesting because I guard my heart when it comes to everyone except my husband. He’s the one I trust the most and lean on with regard to every aspect of my life. I definitely don’t do that with anyone else. He’s my one person in life that I am completely vulnerable with and don’t worry about rejection. But that is certainly not the case with other people in my life and I’m working on that :).