In this final reflection on heart, I want to talk about how we can care for our hearts, keeping them whole and hearty in fighting shape, ready for whatever life might send our way.
Here are a few ideas to help you care for your heart in a way that will open it, strengthen it, and prepare it for battle.
Feed your heart good food.
Your heart craves consolation, inspiration, and peace. I don’t think it’s necessary to live in a dream world, but I do think it’s necessary to consume more of the Bible then of the news every day if we want to keep our heart healthy. There are awful things happening all the time that we need to not shut our eyes to, but just because those things are real doesn’t make the truth of the Bible any less so.
I’ve met so many people in my life who felt that it was extremely virtuous to constantly bathe in the sewage of negative news on every front in the globe because those things were “real life.” They thought that by constantly allowing themselves to be washed over by the barrage of awfulness in the world but they were somehow better, that their perspective was “realer” than people who spent much less time consuming the news.
But the Bible is just as real as anything you read in the news. Christ is just as real as the presidents and politicians you read about every day. And reading your Bible and other uplifting Christian works helps lay layers of stone under your feet instead of negativity and terror that rips around you like a terrible current, constantly threatening to uproot you and carry you away.
Moral of the story? Just because there is bad in the world, that’s not all there is. There is good as well and in much greater measure than evil. Staying tethered to the good doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.
Get to know yourself.
Isn’t it crazy how little we actually know ourselves? I’m constantly surprised how often my husband knows better than me what I will do or think in a given situation.
But there is one person who knows us perfectly, and that is God. I think it’s cool that God desires to teach us about ourselves so that we can live with more of our heart and have clarity about where and how we can best do his will.
And so instead of filling out lists and becoming more self-centered in thinking only of ourselves, I think we get to know ourselves best through prayer and journaling when we allow God to write with us.
Open yourself to letting God teach you more about yourself. I think it might surprise you.
Practice being brave in the smallest of ways.
Be a little bit brave with things that don’t matter so that when back opportunities to be brave arise those muscles have a little bit of tone to them.
- Wear something that you love but don’t necessarily think is in your comfort zone.
- Try a restaurant that doesn’t have any of your tried-and-true favorites on the menu.
- Call out your friend who is bad mouthing herself and ask her to speak more kindly about herself as a daughter of God.
We’re not talking big things here.
But we are talking things that help you show up with all of yourself so that when your day in the arena comes, you have all of yourself to bring to the fight.
I have a quote on my mantle that says “Your heart is the size of a fist because you need it to fight.“ I really love that. I love that it takes a gentle and integrated heart to be strong, because the heart of stone that may seem like an asset will actually just shatter when there is any pressure placed upon it.
Forgive over and over again. Practice forgiving.
Nothing eats away at your heart quite like grudges and unforgiveness. It is impossible to be whole when we have rented out swathes of our heart to old hurts and broken promises.
But it’s so hard to evict those renters that seem to have so much claim to the real estate.
Forgiving isn’t pretending you weren’t hurt. It is letting the hurt wash over you like a waterfall, feeling it sting every inch of your skin and then having the courage to step forward, into the dark perhaps, but out of the stream. Often we feel rooted to the spot, paralyzed by the pain and the intensity, but there are hands there for us to grasp when we need help moving out of the stream.
God’s hands are there.
Sometimes God’s hands look like the hands of counselors, friends, and confidants and sometimes they are simply and truly the ethereal hands of God reaching out in answer to our prayers.
Either way, the hands can be hard to see in the dark unless we train our eyes. And we train our eyes through frequent practice of forgiveness.
It takes a strong woman to live with her whole heart. But I know that you are strong because I know that God doesn’t make women any other way. In the face of the greatest hurt when we want to call uncle and surrender to the pain, God reminds us that our strength is in our heart, the heart he gave us to be soft, whole, and able to endure.
I’m praying for you and your heart this week.