~ By Emma Elstadt
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” – Prov 4:23 (NLT)
What is it really to guard your heart? What does it mean to guard your heart as a young person nowadays?
Jesus says in Matthew 10:38-39 “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve Me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to Me, you’ll find both yourself and Me.”
If you don’t have a relationship with God, how will you be able to operate in a relationship with someone else? You need to first accept yourself as a significant human being, sculptured by the image of God. Don’t get thrown off course. This will lead you into temptation and land you in all kinds of trouble and emptiness. There is nothing untruthful in God, nothing deceitful and nothing fickle. He brought us to life and only He can make us feel alive. Trust in Him and pray so that He can provide you with wisdom.
1. God first. I don’t think any relationship will be able to function properly if it isn’t based upon Godly principles, together with the fruits of the Spirit. In every situation, every hardship, this will be the base of it all. The most important one of these, love. Love relentlessly and love beautifully. Love God and love yourself from the very core. With love, you can avoid evil and not become weary.
2. What is love? In my own experience, I have learned what it is to love and what it is to be loved. It’s something special, not to be misused. Toxic friendships can be the cause of you not being able to love the way you should. It leads to discussing the flaws of others, temptation, doubting yourself and allowing yourself to be misused by the ‘love’ people think they have for you, when in reality, it’s only an idea, not the real deal. To get rid of these friendships in your life, is both the hardest, and the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself.
“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others and isn’t always “me first”. It doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, and takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. It puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, and never looks back. But keeps going to the end.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG
3. Godly choices. I have always wanted to get married at a young age, but as a 19-year-old, I get told a lot that I’m so young and to commit to someone right now would keep me bound and that I wouldn’t be able to experience certain things the way I would have if I was on my own and that I’m too young to make a serious decision like that. But, the hardcore reality is; a relationship isn’t a restriction, it’s a release, a blessing. I believe that if you know, and God showed you, that the person you love, is the person you want to spend your life with, you should not be held back. Why waste your time with relationships with people you know you don’t see your future with. My heart is set on what it wants. I think I’d rather wait for the right person to come my way than to hurt others feelings with untruthful emotions.
Sometimes, especially in making a decision like I did, you go against a stream. You make decisions that can ultimately cause unpopularity. Stand firm in your identity, don’t change just because the world doesn’t like what it sees, change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a better future.
4. When considering a relationship, what’s important? Look for someone with a God-fearing mind and character. Make this priority. Don’t think you can change a person and their beliefs. Just like you and me, people are set on their decisions. You can try, but if you know their heart is set on worldly ways, rather step away and trust and pray that God will help open their eyes and show them the right way.
For me, it’s been a challenge. Not wanting to hurt people’s feelings, as well as my own. It can be tough at times and you will face some bumps in your journey, but God gave us the mission to live out the life Jesus lived here on earth. With Godly character like that, you cannot go wrong. He will always guard your heart. He will always comfort you with robust love, strength and hope and a peaceful heart when He knows you’ll need it most.
“Jesus answered, ‘You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.'”
John 13:7 MSG