Learning to protect our hearts is an important part of our spiritual journey. But what does this mean? How can we guard our hearts? The concept of guarding our hearts comes from Proverbs 4:23-26,
“Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Take heed to[a] the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure”.
In this piece of scripture, we are reminded of all the things that try to come against us. Guarding our hearts means being wise and discerning in our lives. Guarding our hearts means protecting ourselves as Christians from all the things that would come to harm us.
In St Pope John Paul II’s mind, the opposite of love is not hated but use. This is the battle for purity in physical forms of affection. We must resist the temptation in us that tends to treat other people as a means to our own selfish gratification, so we can love the other person for their own sake. This requires a deep conversion of heart. When we see the other person as a gift from God, there is great joy in this God-given gift. Such physical boundaries keep our hearts honest. Our hearts are fragile and we must do all we can to protect it.
Emotional Virtue in relationships
Firstly what is a virtue? A virtue is striving for excellence. Virtues form the habits of knowing and choosing the good. Emotional virtue is the right ordering of our thoughts, actions, and desires as they relate to our relationship. This includes our passions, desires, feelings, and emotions. Emotional boundaries are just as important as physical boundaries. Within a relationship, it’s important to make sure that your emotional relationship is growing proportionally to your level of commitment. Often times, women fall into the trap of imaging they are marrying the guy in their heads on the first date, this is not virtuous and can lead to problems down the line. It’s a problem when you commit to the future before you’ve actually committed to the present. Simply put if you do not control your emotions, they will control you. Everyone wants to pursue excellence and emotional virtue is all about ordering, controlling, and directing those emotions to freedom. We have a head and a heart for a reason, your mind has to be formed in what is true, good, and beautiful, so that your heart will act upon it.
If it breaks God’s heart, why do you think it will fulfill yours?
We should not take the fragility of our hearts lightly. When we allow the forces of the world to pull us away from God’s heavenly embrace, it damages our hearts. It’s important to have healthy habits to help us ensure we protect our hearts.
How can I guard my heart?
- Start with prayer – the more we pray and live a sacramental life, the more we grow closer to God and develop a healthy relationship with God.
- Choose good friends– surrounding yourself with good friends that will bring out the best in you and help you grow in virtue.
- Learn to overcome temptation – praying the rosary and keeping a rosary in your pocket, ready to help you when you feel tempted. Also, St Michael’s chaplet is a powerful prayer for protection.