Guarding our hearts is crucial to our walk with God, in Proverbs 4:23 we learn that we are to keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. This tells me that it is an ongoing process and it will take self control and effort on my part. Throughout the bible we see that God actually searches our hearts and in Matthew and Luke we learn that out of the mouth the heart speaks. We can choose to store good and peaceful things or evil things in our hearts and our true character is built based on what we have built up within our hearts. I definitely want God to be happy with what he finds in my heart so I know that I must be vigilant about protecting it and filling it with good fruit. The heart is fragile and even in our bodies we have the ribs as protection around the physical organ so why would we think that there shouldn’t be added security around our spiritual hearts?
There are many aspects to guarding our hearts and can stem from the obvious such as the company we keep and the places we go to the not so obvious like not watching certain television shows and listening to some music. Throughout my dating experience I have learned that making sure to protect your heart early on can save you a lot of heartache later. Just because you feel sparks when a guy touches you or there is always excitement built around your encounters does not mean that this is God’s best for you or that you are going to be compatible in the long run. In the past I have given my heart to boyfriends completely, only to end up heart broken as the relationship unraveled for whatever reason. Part of the reason in each of these cases was improper protection of my heart. I have come to a place in my life where I desire to relieve any preventable heart break and genuinely pursue relationships God’s way and under His protection or not at all. Throughout this process, I have grown to understand that guarding my heart does not mean building an impenetrable wall or hardening my heart as I had in the past. It does however mean placing boundaries around my heart as a safe guard to allow the right people in. Below are five ways I plan to use when dating going forward, let me know if you think of more!
- Loads of prayer! – Philppian’s 4: 6-7 tells us that we are not to be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our request be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ. Of course this scripture pertains to so much more than dating but I can clearly see that the first and probably most crucial step in guarding my heart when pursuing a relationship is prayer! Upon meeting someone that I may have an interest in I will pray for discernment, wisdom and for the Holy Spirits guidance when navigating the relationship.
- Release the outcome – So many times I think I held on to the thought of what I created and shaped our future as a couple to be that I failed to look at the reality of what actually was. It’s a harsh reality, but sometimes when this is done the other person may not even be at that level in the relationship yet, so while you’re thinking about how great his last name sounds with your first he’s contimplating if he wants to see you or the other girl that he’s dating this weekend. Just as a general character trait (and sometimes flaw) I hate to give up on anything, but eventually realized that there comes a point when you have to let go of the future and give it to God. Constantly thinking about the future you could have with a person rarely leaves much room for truly getting to know them in the present. Not being tied to a particular outcome will make it a lot easier to let go of them if they turn out to be a wrong fit. Whereas if you have already built a mental future with a person it can be sometimes be quite difficult to even think of replacing them with someone else. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 – we learn that we are to take every thought captive so that we can obey Christ, which means although it may be difficult I can and must control my thoughts.
- Practice the art of detachment – Remaining emotionally detached and keeping my emotions in check is easier said than done, especially if I genuinely like someone and enjoy their company. I usually will want to spend as much time as possible with them, getting to know more about them, talking to them throughout the day etc etc. There is nothing wrong with getting to know someone, but there is something wrong with making them the center of your life, in other words an idol. Remaining detached and regularly realigning with what keeps you grounded (for me reading the bible, connecting with God, friends and family) on a regular basis will help you from losing yourself while finding out about your partner. Although you will devote time to them, always keep doing you and live your life. Being able to view that person from an grounded point of view and not one that’s emotionally charged can help make a realistically sound decision about them. Once you have your heart and mind invested in someone it can be difficult to see things clearly sometimes to the point where even glaring red flags may be overlooked on a consistent basis.
- Limit physical contact – Personally once intimacy has come into play my attachment to a person goes up 100%and as Christian women we know that fornication is wrong, but there are so many other types of physical contact that can set small fires which eventually cause a huge uncontrollable roaring fire. Even something as simple as talking about sex which can plant seeds or sending certain photos can cause a brother or sister in Christ to slip. Early on I plan to set boundaries with my partner letting him know what types of touch and interactions I wish to reserve for more serious levels of our relationship. Since the bible only indicates sexually immorality as a sin I think couples should do what works for them and many choose to only go out to public places, in groups, not to kiss or even hold hands initially. In an interesting article I read on phycology today they noted that touch is one of the most fundamental ways of fostering and communicating intimacy in a romantic relationship.* The question is how quickly do you want to fan that flame? Self-control will ultimately have to be practiced on both ends, especially if you’ve had sex in previous relationships. By limiting physical contact you create room to get to know the person on a truly intimate level and are allowing the relationship to flourish in other ways without having to lean on sex or other physical acts which can always be explored later. God tells us that we are to flee from and put to death, like literally slay and destroy, all sexual immorality which is an earthly or fleshly desire, if not we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Since we are His bridegroom, we can pretty much say that we are in a committed relationship with Jesus and married to Him spiritually but will refrain from cheating on Him physically!
- Give purpose to your dating (courting) – Although it may not always be possible, I know that clear communication is key to making a relationship work and being on the same page as to the purpose of your union can only come about through taking the time to candidly discuss your relationship goals. If one person wants to date for the sake of seeing where things will lead and the other is focused on marriage the relationship could take a drastic turn for the worse if these desires are never communicated. In the same vein, both couples could be seeking marriage but one a year down the line and another ten years down the line. I also don’t believe that communication should be limited to just talking about marriage, but also the significance of your individual walks with God and how you plan to come together to further His kingdom. Can you do more for His kingdom as a team or as singles? So many times people become a couple for selfish reasons, but the more I grow up in Christ I learn that relationships are for His glory and not solely for the pleasure of the two people involved. If the relationship is within God’s will and the focus on God it will be blessed.