A Hardened Heart
Hard-hearted. That’s definitely not a way that you would want someone to describe you. Ebenezer Scrooge comes to my mind as a hard-hearted person. Most of us would like to think that we are not hard hearted. As a Christian pastor I would like to think that my heart is always soft and tender, that there is not one ounce of hardness, not one section of callousness anywhere in my heart.
Sadly, I know that is not the case. I know that there are areas of my heart that I have allowed to become hard through hurts and disappointments in my past. I have areas of my heart that have been guarded since I was a child. After a while, those walls we erect to protect ourselves from getting hurt end up becoming fortified prisons that keep us from loving, being loved and enjoying life that way that God intended for us to enjoy life.
To be sure we are on the same page, as some of my readers are from places outside of America, I refer to the heart as the inner you, the real you. It is beyond the seat of emotions. It is the person that you really are. We tried to mask our true selves and often pretend to be someone that we are not. But, our hearts will always give us away. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:35). In other words, the true you will eventually come out. You can only fake it for so long.
Our hearts were meant to be tender, loving, caring and compassionate. Unfortunately, many of us have had our hearts ripped to shreds by people whom we love, hurt by circumstances in life or broken by failed promises. This tends to cause us to become jaded, cynical, skeptical and guarded. Hurts, disappointments and betrayals cause us to harden our hearts to keep us from getting taken advantage of or hurt again. It’s a protection, or so it seems. In actuality, it becomes a prison and a slow death to the real us.
The writer of Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts with all diligence for out of it flows the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). I wonder if most of us take time to think about our hearts or our emotional health. For many of us it is too painful as we do not want to relive the hurts of the past. Therefore, we give little thought to it. We guard our hearts from getting hurt, but we are not as careful to guard our hearts from becoming hard and calloused.
If we do not guard our hearts from being hard and calloused, then we will stop the flow of life from springing forth from our hearts. We must be always vigilant to keep our hearts tender and soft so that life can flow from them. One can be hurt or disappointed without becoming hardened. It’s all in our perspective and follow through.
We should take regularly inventory of our heart’s health and ask questions like:
- Am I holding onto any hurts or disappointments?
- Have I allowed hurts and disappointments to turn into grudges or bitterness?
- Am I allowing myself to freely love others without conditions?
- Am I allowing myself to be loved by others?
- What’s coming out of my mouth? Is it positive and uplifting or is it negative and hurtful?
It very well can be a matter of life or death.