So I’m having lunch with a high school guy, when he blurts out, "I just don’t get this girl! She is very godly, loves Jesus, and I’m kind of interested in her—but her reactions to me have been absolutely frustrating! I ask how she is doing, but she never asks how I am doing. I ask about school, but she never asks me about school. I ask how she is growing in her faith and how God is moving in her life, but she never asks how I am growing in my faith or how God is moving in my life."
Not wanting this guy to be self-deceived, I quickly responded with a grin, "Is it possible that she thinks you are stalking her? Maybe she just doesn’t like you." Those words were out of my mouth before I realized their potential for disaster.
With even more discouragement he looks up and says, "No . . . she doesn’t think I am a stalker. She is telling her sisters and her friends that she actually likes me but is ‘guarding her heart.’"
His response made me think—I’ve heard that final phrase a lot growing up in church and in Christian school, mostly by women and girls. The scriptural basis is Proverbs 4:23.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
In the situation I just described, the girl applied Scripture the best way she knew how. But in an effort to "guard her heart," she also isolated herself from any potentially basic friendship with guys she felt attraction toward. Now, did she want to know more about him, his life, and his faith? Absolutely! But she was afraid that doing so would cause her heart to be unguarded. How do I know she was afraid? Because it is possible to interact with guys and still "guard your heart."
An essential part of the gospel is that all men and all women are made in "the likeness and image" of God the Father, Son, and Spirit (Gen. 1:27). This is the basis for common courtesy, care, and interaction with people (even guys). "Over-guarding" her heart caused this young girl not to live out the most basic truth of the gospel in her life—treating this guy as if he was made in the image and likeness of God by carrying on a simple conversation, asking about life situations, and listening to his evolving faith-story. Fear overshadowed living out the gospel.
As a result, a godly young man who was honorably pursuing someone with pure motives, initiating a relationship, encouraging her as a brother in Christ, and also wanting to protect her heart walked away frustrated. He wondered if she was ever going to let him see her heart let alone hold it.
So, here are some questions for you—I’d love to hear your response, so please pick one:
- Do you think there is even such a thing as over-guarding your heart?
- How do you find yourself over-guarding your heart?
- What does it look like to guard your heart without over-guarding your heart?