What if I walked up to you right now and told you to guard your heart?
Would you stare at me blankly? Would you laugh? Would you brush it off nervously? Change the subject? Ask what I know about you? Roll your eyes? Respond with conviction? Would you even understand what I mean?
To “guard your heart” is a phrase well known to our community. And in my experience, we can tend to throw it around a lot. With that being said, have we grown numb to the reality of this phrase?
This isn’t a concept. This isn’t something that should be taken into consideration. To “guard the heart” is a message given to us in the Word of the Lord. In Proverbs 4:23 NIV, we are told, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” . Now if we take that same verse from a different Catholic Bible translation (DRA), we’ll find that we are told, “with all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth out from it”. I prefer this translation because emphasis is drawn to the importance of actively and constantly taking care of the heart, which I’m sure we could all do more.
So let’s stop throwing around this phrase around and let’s start actively living it instead. Here is what experience has taught me:
6 Practical Ways to Actually Guard Your Heart and Lead Your Heart:
Pray. This is a given. But don’t pray passively; pray actively. This means praying for your emotional purity, even if you don’t have feelings for another person or know someone has feelings for you. We can’t expect to be ready for a relationship if we’re preparing for it the same way we cram for a test the night before.
Decide who you want to be, and write it down. It’s not about what the other person can give you, but rather, who you can be and what you can do for them. Love is life-giving. Love doesn’t drag you to hell. And neither should you do so to your future spouse. Figure out with the Lord what kind of person you want to be for him/her. Write it down so you can reference it once you meet him/her, so you won’t compromise what’s written on your heart. Better yet, write down a vision statement of the person you want to be when you do get married. Begin working towards becoming that person.
Make a “non-negotiables” list. Turning someone down is already difficult to do, but having a “non negotiables” list will make the process easier for you. This will help you know where to draw the line before you even need to. What kind of values should s/he have? How should s/he treat the people you love? What is the most important trait s/he should have? And how should s/he treat you? Run this list by someone you trust. Which leads us to our next point:
Talk to someonewho can guide you properly. Everyone has someone you can turn to about topics like this. Whether it is a friend, your parents, or a religious (deacon, pastor, nun, etc.), there is always someone who exemplifies the man or woman you want to become in the future and can point you in the right direction. Talk to someone you can be completely vulnerable and transparent with — someone who can hold you accountable.
Trust the process and be real about it. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know someone. However, there is a huge difference between hiding it and keeping it low-key. If you’re sneaking around, brushing off people’s assumptions and avoiding being confronted, then it’s likely you’re already headed in the wrong direction with this person. But if you’re keeping it on the DL because you’re in the initial getting-to-know-you stages with someone and are being mindful of his/her dignity, then that’s respectable. Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking that we’ll get in trouble for wanting to get to know someone that we hide it from the people around us. Let’s remember that vocations are serious things, and if you’re getting to know someone in a Christ-centered way, then there’s no need to hide such an important part of your life. So brothers, don’t be afraid to pursue a sister with proper guidance. And sisters, don’t be afraid to let a brother get to know you.
Pray some more. I’m adding this as the last step because it’s something I tend to overlook myself. It’s one thing to pray before sitting down with a girl to tell her your intentions or hangout out with a guy you like, but it’s another thing to reflect in His presence after everything’s been said and done. Here is where you will find peace. And more importantly, the answers in your heart.
Guarding our hearts is pointless if we don’t know how to lead them too. At the end of the day, when the lovebug bites you, it sticks. And after all the butterflies, phone calls, and mushy exchanges have come and gone, it’s up to you to lead them back to Him. So before your eyes get blinded by giant hearts, decide how you’re going to be Christ to the person you will one day strive for holiness with. Because if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And if you’re going to fall for someone, you might as well do it right.
Angelica Cacatian – High School Based Program Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region
We are a Catholic youth organization and the youth program of CFC (Couples for Christ) whose mission is to strengthen family life and values. CFC-Youth’s mission is described in the 4 F’s (Fun, Friendship, Freedom, and Faith) and the 7 Identities, which represent a holistic approach to following Christ and striving for excellence in all areas of life.
COUPLES FOR CHRIST CANADA MISSION CENTRE
CFC-Youth Canada has 46 chapters present in seven provinces, and is one of 127 member countries of Couples For Christ Global.