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You Might Have to Think About It

 
Tippy toe.jpg
 

If I want to "tippy-toe" with my left foot, I have to think about it. I actually have to pause what I am doing, and pretty much say to myself, “You have everything that you need to do this. You may not feel like it but you can do this.” I can almost visualize my brain firing as it sendssss the message down my body, and into my foot, and my heel rises.

Now I realize that most people can tip-toe with abandon. The process probably never crosses your mind. And that’s the way that it should be! But numerous leg injuries have left my leg weaker and deficient in some ways, and if I want or need to do it, it requires some thought and intentionality.

And I think my tip-toeing process is a great analogy for life. We all sustain all kinds of mental and emotional injuries along the way, and if we are not aware or intentional, we can start to avoid doing things or even start to think we cannot do things - without even noticing. Here are some examples…

Maybe you were in a relationship with a friend or a loved one and they broke your trust. Perhaps they even walked out without explanation or warning. It can be very easy for you to respond by putting up guards to protect yourself and insure that you will never be put through that pain again. Without too much thought or even intention, you can actually avoid intimacy or resist trusting. And that doesn’t lead to very deep relationships.

Perhaps you were in a service role. You volunteered at church or with an organization that you supported and believed in. And eventually you found yourself taken advantage of - in regard to your time, energy, or financial contribution. Maybe you were disrespected, ignored, or even shoved out. Your natural reaction can be to pull away from any similar experiences and think, “I will never try that again.” “I will never put myself out there again.”  “The risk outweighs the benefit.” But if you do so, your loss will be great.

I’m sure other personal examples came to mind for you. Being hurt can easily cause us to pull away and avoid any future pain or effort involved in trying again. And while withdrawing or putting up walls may keep you “safe,” a person cannot experience a full or enjoyable life without a willingness and commitment to trust, to serve, to give, to take new risks, or to embrace new challenges.

This is the thought I have been carrying with me the past few days. In Proverbs 4:23, we are told, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” We tend to use that verse to encourage ourselves and others to put up the necessary protection for our hearts. And that’s wisdom! But the Hebrew word for “guard” in that verse actually means to keep a careful watch over, and I love the imagery. Because if we have put up barricades and barbed wire to protect ourselves from any possible hurt or disappointment, we have simultaneously “protected ourselves” from rich, life-giving relationships and amazing life opportunities. There is a balance that must be maintained. Protecting our hearts doesn’t mean keeping everything out or holding people at a distance.  Keeping a careful watch over our hearts means that we allow for an environment where they can be and enjoy what they were designed to be and enjoy. While we should still be wise about what and who we allow into our hearts, we cannot enjoy the life that is intended for us if we put up walls and protective barriers. We were made for close relationships. We were made for vulnerability. And even if past mental or emotional injuries make opening up less natural or easy than it used to be, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. It may just take a little more effort or intentionality.

So what message do you need to send to your heart and your mind today?

You can trust again.

You can love again.

You can try again.

You have everything you need, and your Heavenly Father is committed to protecting you and providing for you.

You don’t want to miss this.

* If you have not yet started following Relay on social media, will you do so today? And will you please share the sites? Our intense desire is to encourage and inspire our walk with our Heavenly Father, and to make it easy to talk about and share.

** Our Fall study, Peace That Passes, begins in September! Please check our registration page for more details. If you live outside of the Nashville area, we hope you will join along. There will be podcasts as well as social media posts throughout the study, and the devotional is available online. It's going to be great! Do not miss out!

 

Erin Pfister