“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”(NIV) ~Proverbs 4:23
I recently read a devotional that was about “guarding one’s heart.” I agreed with most of the article, it was only the conclusion (or) advice the writer gave so freely that caused me to question the writers intent, in addition to asking myself some hard questions. In the article the writer stated, “Do your feelings get hurt easily? Perhaps it’s time you start guarding your heart. It is not fun walking around sulking and carrying grudges because you have been hurt. Why does this happen? Because you need to draw your strength from your heavenly Father.” Ok, I’m good with that advice, seeking God’s Will. The writer goes onto say this…”Pray to Him daily and ask Him to help you get rid of your sensitivity. It will require you to be willing to let go of your hurts.” I thought about this statement for quite a while and “for me” and I am not saying this to be true for everyone, I can only tell you what my truth is. So, for me to ask God to remove my sensitivity would be like saying to God, “Hey, big guy? I think you made a mistake giving me feelings that are so freaking “sensitive!” No, I’m not going to do that. Sensitivity is neither good nor bad, it’s a gauge for our feelings, our sensitivity (our feelings in action) helps to build and support the foundation that enables us to become the individuals we were created to be and helps guide us to grow into the person God created us to be. So, I’m now asking myself “Why do my feelings get hurt so easily?” To best answer this question I will need to break it down into two categories (work and personal life). Let’s start with work…A lesson I’ve been trying to learn over the past couple of years is to know the difference between criticism for growth and criticism by means of personal attacks. Most generally in a work environment criticism is broken down into two categories, constructive and destructive. Constructive criticism is meant to provide options for improved processes or to assist in developing new processes in order to complete a task with more efficiency. Destructive criticism by definition is meant to tear you down with personal insults directed towards you and the work you produce, not the processes for achieving a specified task with expected results. In regarding to personal life, I have discovered we all have at least two types of friends…friends who tell us what we want to hear (extremely agreeable) and friends who are honest, even considered to be brutally honest. While both kinds of friends fulfill our needs and boost our egos, I’ve learned to appreciate and embrace my friends who are not afraid of telling me the truth. Does that mean my feelings never get hurt? Absolutely, NOT! Do I react negatively and sulk, YEP…sometimes I do, unfortunately. Making that statement is not bragging that I am a big pain in the butt, just the reality that I am sometimes a pain. I don’t like acting that way, but when it does happen I try to understand what went wrong?; before I get too upset. This too is a process…getting unexpected answers can result in feelings getting hurt, the message the brain receives is often different than the message the heart receives. I have a dear friend tell me that my brain has a direct line to my heart and emotions. For example…I send a text message to a friend and it might sound like this…let’s get together soon?” I waiting for a response, the longer the length of time to respond must mean…my friend doesn’t really want to spend time with me…then the emotions start…what did I do that she doesn’t want to spend time with me…she must thinkI’m too demanding…she doesn’t really like me…I am too overwhelming…I ask for too for too much…I talk about myself too much…I don’t ask enough questions…I ignore her feelings…get the idea? Once I start the downward spiral it gets ridiculous, ridiculous quickly! I know it’s ridiculous but there comes a time I just can’t seem to stop myself soon enough. A method that has been helping is to stop…pause…breathe…don’t give into the standard, standby learned behaviors that only lead me in a negative direction. Too often I get impatient with myself, with others, and with life in general. It’s a terrible cycle we put ourselves through when we continue do the same things over and over somehow expecting a different outcome. As I stated earlier, sensitivity is neither good nor bad I would say that sometimes it feels both like a blessing and sometimes a curse. I’m learning to recognize my sensitivity and trying to embrace it and even coddle it at times. Often I can feel very confident about my feelings and emotions as they relate to sensitivity and I have also experienced new ways to bolster my self-esteem through confidence. Having the ability to sense someone else’s feelings whether through empathy or sympathy, is something I cherish. I truly believe it is because of my sensitivity I can be a friend to someone in need, a messenger for God, a shoulder for someone to lean on or someone to just listen. I think most of us have that one person, our “go to” friend when we need to talk or “not talk” with. Sometimes it’s about “being” instead of talking, the sheer presence of knowing someone is there for you, and that they totally “get” you is enough. Emotions are not gender based, not masculine, not feminine…God created each of us with hearts and minds and passions. As wonderful as these are on an individual basis try putting all three in motion at the same time and things can quickly get a bit overwhelming. My experience has been that many people “down play” the importance of these critical components of heart, mind and passion/spirit of self. It all gets rather confusing because society tells us what these three things should look and feel like; our family up-bringing has its idea of what the heart, mind and passion should be and for Christians, another description of what the heart, mind and passion/spirit should be. Once again I am agreeing with the original writer…Prayerfully seek God and God’s Will for your life. If you are anything like me, I sometimes try to find a shortcut to provide answers to my questions, and wanting or waiting on someone to tell me what to do and how to feel. This behavior robs each of us of self-confidence but moreover it allows someone to dictate what we think, what we feel, what we like and what we do. That is not at all the way God created us to be.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” ~Luke 16:13
Great article a friend sent to me just as I was finishing typing this…God is good, God is always good!
~Blessings and Peace~
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