Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guard your heart

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Over the years I've struggled with wide ranging emotions--exuberant, passionate highs and devastating, aching lows--and very little inbetween. 

I've researched conditions like bipolar and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to try to understand why my heart is so volitile.  I'm not bipolar, but I share some of their traits.  I do struggle with SAD and at times it has been debilitating.  To some degree, I just understand that in February I have a delightful burst of energy in which I am enthusiastic, organized and creative.  Around August, I begin to slow and become critical so it's a good time for me to edit the work done in the fury of February.  By December I have to be cautious about my moods so I gently revel in the holiday festivities as a strategy to combat the peaking darkness in my mind.  I also take medication and nurture my body gently--some of the depression is a genetic issue that just won't go away without the support of some very gifted physicians.  In military terms, these are the air war strategies.

The ground war strategies include good old fashioned thought and attitude management.  II Corinthians 10:5 encompasses the heart of this strategy: 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

That means I have a choice.  I can choose:

                 to be full of faith or full of doubt
                 to remain at rest or become frantic with fear
                 to notice God's peace or be overwhelmed by chaos
                 to be focused on the Father or focused on self

This is what it means to guard your heart.  It means guarding it from the attacks of the enemy, the criticism of well-meaning friends and your own insecurities. 

Still, there are times that my best efforts are insufficient to the task.  My heart often feels like the sandbox heart in the picture above, or worse it feels like the sand has been fused into solid, glistening glass--hard and brittle, with all the imperfections frozen forever into the matrix.  In those moments, I lean on this promise from Ezekiel 36:26:

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

When I can't change my own heart, He promises that He can and does.  He tenderly loves me showering me with the compassion I don't even have for myself.

God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.  Romans 2:4

He loves me enough not to leave me in the abyss I have placed myself, but I still have to get my backside up, take His hand and walk out with Him.  It's hard work sometimes, but it works and I am grateful.

Thank You, Father!

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