Growing up, I was always told to guard my heart. I interpreted it as "don't sleep around." I thought that intimacy was strictly physical and that I could share myself emotionally with whomever I wanted. So I did. And in a way, it wasn't a bad thing - after all, you have to share things with others to become close friends - but then, my heart was broken by someone who I had shared my heart with emotionally. After my trust was broken, I became afraid of how others saw me. I thought of myself as broken, damaged, and unworthy, and I thought others saw me that way too. So, I closed myself off. I became disabled by fear.
I developed a fearful heart, and that fear influenced my actions. Proverbs 4:23 says that our hearts determine our actions. We pursue the things we love and we reject the things we don't. Love can cause us to do crazy things; it can blind us or liberate us. God created us this way for a purpose. And having feelings is a gift! But like any good gift, we have to protect that gift. If we give our hearts over to things that aren't secure, then our lives can be derailed by them. Intimate details like our opinions, our pasts, our dreams, and our goals are not meant to be shared with everyone. Parts of us should be reserved for those who we love and those who love us in return. When we give ourselves away too freely, we set ourselves up for pain. But we also can't shut everyone out because there is no community there. So where's the middle ground?
When a relationship is centered on God, trust can exist. If our hearts are buried in God's love, and both people are seeking God first, then it is good to share with each other. The problem arises when one person in the relationship is not seeking that kind of partnership. For example, if he doesn’t love the Lord, he can’t love you the way Christ has called him to. Or, if you want a dating relationship while he simply want a friendship, you might suffer the pain of unrequited love. So before opening up to that guy, make sure you’re on the same page. Don’t be afraid to ask about his intentions. You’re not being pushy, you're simply seeking clarity. If you both decide to pursue a dating relationship, then follow your heart and open up when you feel ready. But if you only want to be friends, it’s important to set up boundaries. For example, you could decide not to talk about your love life with that guy, or you could decide to only hang out in group settings.
Setting up boundaries means deciding what you will and will not share with this guy you’re not dating. Ask yourself what stories, passions, dreams, and fears are really important to you, and then don’t share them with him. There’s a difference between telling him your career goal and why it’s your goal. It’s the why that makes information special. So one of the best boundaries you can set up is not sharing the why behind your heart. Boundaries can be tricky because they look different to everyone. Just because your friend feels comfortable sharing her past doesn’t mean you will. So don’t set up boundaries based on what other people are doing. Take time to ask yourself what matters to you, and ask the Lord what He wants you to reserve for your husband.
When we hide our hearts within Christ, only those seeking Christ will be able to find them. But even then, God doesn’t promise a life free of heartbreak, but he promises his love can’t be shaken (Isaiah 54:10). And if we’re centered in His love, then our identities can’t be shaken either. Being guarded doesn’t mean keeping others out; it means being secure in God before seeking intimate relationship with others.
Emily is a Lane of Roses Writing Ambassador. Want to see how our Writing Ambassadors have been contributing to our overall mission? Check out their posts below: