The Secret of a Soft Heart

I was ambushed. My day felt ruined. A dark cloud hung over everything, and for all my efforts, I couldn’t see daylight. Down seemed up and up seemed down. My heart hurt like a loser of the ‘running of the bulls’, yet nothing was really wrong. I was simply dropping Bailey (our 3-year-old dog) off for ‘minor’ surgery—a spay and a teeth cleaning. What had happened?

(I wrote this post awhile ago, but have been thinking of the point again. I hope you enjoy it!)

It was pretty simple, really, and sort of complicated all at the same time. You see, 13 months earlier I had really been ambushed. The time had come to put Josh, my dog since 8th grade, to sleep. I knew it would be hard. I knew it wouldn’t be fun. But I had no idea how much it would turn me inside out—after all, “he’s just a dog, right?” Choosing when to let go ambushed me in a way that I won’t soon forget. It was super hard. I felt low for days afterwards. And it was over a year ago.

So why, upon entering the same vet clinic 13 months later, did I suddenly feel like it was just yesterday I had lost a faithful friend? Why did the smells, surroundings, bandages, and wrappings all evoke an emotion in me that I haven’t felt for months? Why did this outward environment affect me so much? Why? Because our hearts remember things. Our hearts store things. Our hearts are lastingly shaped by the experiences we force upon them. This world imprints our hearts.

I think we often treat our hearts as if they are made of stone—as if we can do or experience anything, and our hearts will stay the same. Of course, a heart of stone isn’t anyone’s goal! We want to have hearts of “flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). But the problem with a heart of flesh is that it is imprintable. Our hearts react to the world around us. Events stick to us like dried oatmeal on a hot day. Images etch themselves into our memory and then resurface at the most inopportune times. Experiences shape us in ways that feel so natural that we don’t even notice. The people we’re around—they shape us. The activities we choose—they form us. The music we enjoy—it steers us. Because it imprints our hearts.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Above all else, guard your heart. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) Quite a filter!

Our hearts are fragile—and absolutely priceless! The point isn’t rule-following or law-keeping. The point is freeing our hearts to love truly the One who loves us first! How do you choose to guard your heart? And, what things are shaping your heart that shouldn’t be? How are you being imprinted?

 

 

 

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