You don’t have to have grown up in a Christian/Catholic tradition to be familiar with the following verse:
Guard your heart, for from it flow the well springs of life. – Prov. 4:23
I’ve always thought that this verse solely addressed being careful about what you take into your heart. That it was reserved to the concept of consumption. This seems right, according to the immediate meaning of the words and common sense. But, over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that this verse has another side to it:
It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. – Matt. 15:11
These verses seem unconnected. Far from it!
The other day, I encountered some “unpleasantness” online. It irked me and I got that hot feeling in my neck that usually precedes a decision I regret. But I was able to move on very, very quickly. I was so shocked by the pivot, that I began to reflect on it, and realized that my tendency to dwell on people who have hurt me, mull over negative moments during the day, even indulge in frustration with myself are no longer freight trains I’m dragged behind, but have literally become momentary afflictions.
And the reason why stunned me with its simplicity.
I have spent the last five months cultivating a peace and presence of mind that I had not experienced before. From that peace and presence, everything in my life flows—my creativity, my relationships, my intentions for the future. This peace was hard fought and hard won, and is extremely precious to me. Together, my heart and mind decided at some point:
“Ashley. Your peace is too important to give energy to this.”
Without quite realizing it, I had reached a point where the peaceful state of my heart became something worth fighting for and guarding, against both internal and external threats. No rude or cruel person, no inconvenience, no disappointment, no personal failure, is worth giving up my peace.
So, that is what I know think, when I think of guarding my heart! Someone is rude to me or doesn’t follow through—worrying about it isn’t worth my peace. Something I was hoping for doesn’t happen—holding onto disappointment isn’t worth my peace. Some days I can’t seem to get it right—beating myself up and fretting over what people think isn’t worth my peace. Sometimes, it’s not what you take in that breaks your heart, it’s what you put out. Sometimes, you have to guard your peace from yourself.
And I do mean it,
p.s. – you have a powerful mind, an iron will and the heart of a lion.