A Soft Heart

Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.” To be vigilant is to keep a careful watch for potential danger or threats. So why would we need to “keep our hearts with all vigilance?” Well to put it simply, if you don’t, your heart will slowly grow hard, and a hard heart is volatile.
 
Your heart has the power to create the intent and foundation for your actions. Everything you do can trace back to heart posture. That is why the “springs of life” flow so easily from your heart. Heart posture is simply the status of your heart's intention. It could be hard, bitter, and closed off or it could be soft, loving, and open to God. You have the power to choose how you carry it. It is not a passive act, responding from a soft heart is very active and takes effort every single day.

Keeping your heart soft is a key to guarding your heart from harm and it allows you to  connect to life around you. This is a very easy thing to do when your life is going great and things are working in your favor, but when you are surrounded by hardship, injustice, pain, and unfortunate circumstances it seems a little harder. When you are surrounded by pain and suffering it seems impossible to open up and talk about what all is wrong while protecting your heart from growing hard. At least that is how I used to see it. But recently, I have been learning it is possible to talk about the hard things and still protect my heart. Just because things are hard and imperfect does not mean that everything in life is bad. Just because there is injustice does not mean that God is not present. Just because the emotion and response I may feel to tragedy is not a “positive” one does not mean that my heart is hard and I am wrong for feeling what I feel.
 
God actually searches your heart; He sees and feels what you see and feel. So when you feel anger at injustice, or sadness at loss, God understands. He isn’t judging you for feeling those things, they are real and they are important. Guarding the state of your heart does not mean that you will never feel a negative emotion, nor does it mean that you have to blindly say that everything is always good and happy. Actually, in order to keep your heart postured in a way that will promote life, it is imperative to be honest about what you feel and acknowledge when you are hurting. After you do so you get to look to Jesus and ask Him what the next step to take is. When you keep your heart turned towards Jesus in the midst of trial and hardship, you will connect to truth and as a result live a full and joyful life as you receive the “springs of life” in every circumstance.
 
On the other side of this, because God searches your heart, you cannot choose to live out of offense, unforgiveness, or bitterness. These are all things that lead to ill intentions of your heart and will keep you from living in the fullness of God’s love and gifts. When you let these things creep in, the purity of your heart will be influenced heavily. So take every effort to protect yourself from being controlled by these things.

I want to acknowledge that life was not meant to be the way that it is. In God's original design, we are not supposed to experience all of this brokenness, but unfortunately it is where we are at. Because of our current reality, it is important to find God within all of the hurt rather than hardening ourselves to the pain of our circumstances. If you are experiencing negative feelings as a result of your pain, that is okay! There is not something wrong with your brain for processing what you are experiencing. There are things happening around us every day that are real, hard, and oftentimes unjust and extremely unfair. We have to acknowledge that and not numb ourselves to it, because you cannot selectively numb. When you numb yourself to the pain, you are also numbing yourself to the joys of life all around you. The way you make it through the hardship is by focusing your heart in the right place.
 
So how can you do that? Start by choosing how you identify yourself. Instead of identifying as the one who suffers, start identifying as God’s chosen and loved. When you do this you can start responding to hardship as a son or a daughter rather than a victim. As a result, you will be an agent of change to the people and systems around you. This doesn’t mean you sit down and accept and wallow in the hard things that are here. You still get to fight for justice, you still get to fight to overcome  obstacles, but you get to do so while standing in your authority as God’s child, with love and righteousness backing you. You will be able to come against the very thing that is causing you pain.

As you move forward in your day to day, address your feelings as they come and be in communication with God. Listening and connecting to the voice of God is the best way to keep your heart in check and protect yourself from falling into the trap of a hard heart. Remember that you can grieve things, you can feel pain, and you can feel anger at injustice. Isaiah 61 tells us that when you feel these intense emotions and hand them over to God, He will always give you an exchange with something better. And keep sowing into love. As you do, your heart will begin to overflow with it, allowing you to keep moving forward and connect to life even in the painful and dark moments.

Author | Tori Kramer

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