On Guarding Your Heart The Wrong Way

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It was too soon to see them, but I saw the pink and blue lines anyway. I’d later discover it was the first gift of many. But at the time, instead of celebrating what God’s capable of, all I wanted to do was guard what He’s already given me. So I held tightly to my family and shared the news only with those experienced at guarding my wounded heart before.

Time passed and the list of possible complications shortened. Still I held my breath, for I’d been there before. And now… instead of my heart aching for the inevitable happening, it burns with regret because I didn’t give Him glory when glory was due.

Friends, just before Christmas I labored love from my womb. I heard the doctor say “It’s a boy — what’s his name?” and my husband and I have been celebrating this gift ever since. Praising God in humbled reverence because we know we don’t deserve this perfect child of His.

And then, over these last few months, I’ve noticed that pain I’d mentioned –the one I’d grown used to– has been transformed. I no longer ache in emptiness — I throb in fullness. And friends, I want to be clear about this: it’s not for the reason you would think.

It’s not because He gifted me with another healthy child. No.

I’d like to think I would have come to this realization regardless, but ashamedly I’m not so sure…

Let me try to explain.

Love I Cor 13:7

They say a mother instantly forgets the pain of labor once the baby is cradled in her arms. I’m not sure it’s instant, but something does happen when the child your child is first given to you (in labor or adoption –motherhood knows no difference). Love only HE is capable of giving pours down so much so that you’ve got to let go of something before you can take your next breath.

Most mothers trust their instincts and let go of the painful journey of getting there so they can cling to this new love. A love gifted directly from The Father.

I firmly believe a mother simply chooses to forget.

And that’s where I went wrong. I chose to forget the wrong thing.

  • I remembered the pain, clinging to it as if that’s all I had left, and forgot how He carried me through.
  • I focused on the hurt and not on how He tended to my wound.
  • After I’d lost another, I determined this was my lot and decided then to make sure no one or nothing would ever hurt my heart again. I even justified it (wrote about it some HERE), thinking that is what God was suggesting I do: Guard my heart.

When I look back now, I see where I went wrong.

(and it was the shock of a healthy baby boy that made me take a second look)

Is it just me or do we all often forget that God is love? God IS…Love.

So when He promises that Love always protects…wouldn’t that mean God will always guard my heart for me?

It seems I was guarding my heart the wrong way…and as a result, I was stopping Him from fulfilling His promises to me.

Friends, I wasn’t guarding my heart at all, I was hardening my hurt. I hardened my vulnerability. And we all know, He works best with soft, moldable clay…or even dust. Instead, I built walls, which ultimately stifled Him out of emitting any light the doors and windows gave way.

Please know, while I understand the need to ensure the enemy holds no grip on me, apart from that, I’m starting to believe I should leave my heart open wide so that He can shine through me.

You see, this heart I have, it’s not mine anyway… No. I gave it to Jesus a long time ago.

Maybe where I went wrong was simply with the idea that I needed to guard my heart from pain. When really, all I needed to do was to guard my heart from anyone else ruling this sacred space that belongs to Him. Including myself.

And I trust He’ll never leave me nor forsake me. So what can man do to me, anyway?

I may get pressed, but won’t become crushed.
I may feel alone, but will never be abandoned.
I may be struck down, but won’t be destroyed.

So no more.

  • No more living in fear of what I may have to walk through. He’s proven He can handle it and will carry me when I can no longer stand.
  • No more staying quiet when joy comes easy, assuming the worse is yet to come. He deserves all the glory I can muster every minute of every day.
  • No more lingering on things that didn’t go my way. For His way has proven to be good. All the time.
  • It’s settled then. No more guarding my heart in all the wrong ways.

From now on, I’ll allow Him to stand guard and take permanent residence in all my vulnerability. For glory is found in the pliable.

I’ll simply guard His promises tucked safely in the space He protects: my heart.

And find comfort in knowing His love…God never fails.

Friends, once I accepted this truth, I felt complete. Throbbing in fullness for His love for me. Do you?

How about you, friends? How do you guard your heart while staying vulnerable to His shaping? I’d love to hear. 

And I’m not even close to done telling this story. Next, I plan on sharing how I discovered I was being distracted by fear. And then how I realized I wasn’t focusing on the Healer. I hope you’ll join me.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

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On How Pain Doesn’t Define {Except for When it Should}

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this a couple of months back (hence the mention of snow) but felt God asking me to wait to share it. I now know why and will continue to write out the rest of this story in posts to come…

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Newly fallen snow blankets the barren earth, allowing sun’s reflection to permeate my back room. Its warmth floods the floor as I labor over the laundry basket. And I close my eyes — just for a second, inviting its radiance to find me.

My lips curl as I notice the fresh bunny tracks below the picture window and realize she’s had her babies. I wonder aloud if rabbits typically have babies in the dead of winter because it doesn’t seem like those tracks belong in this frigid season… His 5 year-old wisdom shines as he tells me outright: “Mom, why can’t she have her babies in the snow? You did. God gives babies in every Season.”

The rhythmic ticking of the swing draws my gaze sideways as I dwell on his sleeping baby brother. He’s right, you know. It did snow the eve this miracle was born. And I can barely breathe as I reflect on what my God has done for me…for thousands of years, He just keeps giving…

I feel like you all know me. The one simply striving to see Jesus in my everyday while becoming all He has made me to be. Despite what this world throws my way. So I feel like I should tell you…

Friends, losing a child of any age, it can define you. For good or bad I imagine. During the pain of labor, you need reminders to simply breathe in and out. The same applies as you labor them down into the ground. Only then, while the intense pain may come and go in spurts, it never goes away fully.

What I’ve discovered is the ache of loss can squeeze the life right out of you only to realize it has freshly pressed the goodness within to the surface. And He’s been at work, pressing hard in me the last couple years — with more than one loss — and I’ll admit…I’d gotten used to the pain.

Almost to the point of it defining me…

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I’m very fond of the book of Job. (And no, I’m nothing like him.) He’s a man I admire greatly. For I don’t know many who could lose every love they’ve tangibly held in their hands and still keep clinging to The One Love they’ve never physically gazed upon. Often I’ve wondered if I had went through that kind of pressure, would the life found within me be bitter or sweet? How many times have I prayed for my rinds to ripen…

Oh dear God, please make my soul sweet enough to savor…
I owe that much and more to my Savior…

Reflecting back, I’m not quite sure when it happened. When I decided the road we travel is mostly rocky. uphill. barren yet full of thorns. And when I think of the optimistic nature God gifted me with, I gasp at the thought of what I’ve done to it.

For I have seen the hurt more than the healings.
I have focused more on the sorrow
than I have my own salvation.
And just look at how He still lavishes His love upon me…

My 1st grader notices the bunny tracks go deep into our evergreen and I say to him–isn’t that just the way God is… Even in the barren seasons, He provides and cares for us. His hazel eyes look up at me as if he’s searching for whom I’m talking to, then he promptly leaves to go watch his new baby brother sway in peaceful slumber.

While pressing hard on the folds of a handmade burp cloth, I sense Him moving in me. My heart warms softly as I thank Him for the contents of this laundry basket. And for just a moment, I realize…it doesn’t hurt to breathe…

I decide right then that the only death I’ll allow to define me will belong to The One who conquered it.

Friends, this is only the beginning of the journey I’ve been on. Next up, I plan on sharing how I was guarding my heart in all the wrong places. I hope you’ll join me (and I’ll try to have that post up soon!).

How about you? How do you keep yourself from focusing more on the sorrow than on our Savior? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Hold Tight {Strength in the Pages}

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My life has been a whirlwind lately. I’m sure many people say that for different reasons. Regardless of where your imaginations may take you, please know the tidal wave I’ve been riding has not been a harmful one. Quite the contrary.

Friends, I’ve been gone far too long and have so much to tell you. And even though I have many blessings to share, I must confess I’ve felt the hard winds of doubt and have wavered with insecurities along the way. I have ashamedly tested His truth and discovered He truly is good. All the time. It’s that journey I need to tell you about, for His glory.

For it’s always about Jesus.

And on this Music Monday, when I contemplated which song has been speaking to me most these last few months….the answer was this one.

Because I’ve tried and tested it and now know for certain: I can always fall back on His Promises.

So when I feel myself flailing. When life blows so hard I struggle to catch my breath. When this controlling nature within me spins wildly, I can do what this song suggests.

I can open up the pages and anchor myself on His promises.

Let Him be my strength and simply hold on tight.

Promises

by Sanctus Real
Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing
In what you can’t see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you’re reaching for an answer
And you don’t know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength
And hold on to the promises
Hold on to the promises
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises
All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak
Neither life, nor death
Could separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us

Friends, I’m going to start this week sharing the spiritual journey I’ve been on lately. (After I share a great giveaway with you tomorrow!) It might take some time to get it all out, but I hope you’ll keep coming back and follow along. Because I assure you, these promises The Word speaks of…I’ve got some tested examples on how they hold true.

I hope to show you how it’s all about Jesus…my living Savior.

He’s the reason I continue to hold on tight.

How about you, friend? What journey have you been on lately? What promise have you been clinging to? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. Truly.

Simply striving,

Nikki