I really love this verse because of what it means in relation to having a good year. It means that it is what flows from your heart that determines your life, not what happens to it. ‘..for out of your heart flows the issues of life.’ Based on this verse it’s not what’s ‘incoming’ during the 365 days, but what’s ‘outgoing’ thats running the show. Many people get upset or excited about the past or future 365, but another 365 days is not a guarantee of better days or worse. Another 365 days, is exactly that; another 365 days!
One thing that’s worth doing, is keeping an end of year journal. For me, this unconsciously began when I started my blog and youtube channel. I can track ‘my end of year heart state’ all the way back to 2015 because of my coinciding posts. This could be a journal for you, or notes on your phone. By doing this, you will discover some reoccurring things about yourself. Very importantly you will get an inclination of your ‘end of year heart state’. Where you disillusioned? Why so? Where you happy?
So what exactly ‘does guarding your heart’ mean?
I think the answers to that can be found in pondering the different versions of Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ( NIV)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (NLT)
Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. (TLB)
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. (AMP)
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (GNT)
Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. (The Voice)
These are just a few bible translations worth meditating on. From these we can see different areas of our being coming into play such as the mind, the will and emotions. The verse also suggests that one can be proactive in guarding these areas. Over the years, I have come to appreciate this verse more and more and today, I would like to share what this verse translates into, for my everyday living.
So here’s my short guide to guarding your heart for the next 365 days…
1. Read the psalms; often! I do this as ‘therapy’ to get through real time emotions. The book of Psalms is found in the bible. Many of the Psalms were authored by King David and other contributors include Moses, King Solomon and Asaph. It is a very honest book about human emotions and difficultly. I liken reading the psalms to sitting in on someone’s therapy sessions and being able to relate and learn. Everyone is prone to anxiety , discouragement , disappointment and betrayal, and the psalmist expresses these things to his therapist (God) without holding back. It’s also a good book for people who feel intimidated or frustrated by prayer. We see someone clearly expressing himself to God about 101 things. The psalmists lets you know that he did indeed receive comfort and help from the therapist (God). He has both ‘bad sessions’ with complaints and tears and ‘good sessions’ with thanksgiving and praise, until the next session where he comes back to God, asking for help from backstabbers. Haha. It’s actually very real and interesting. And so, whatever happens throughout the year, I learned to approach God, as my therapist. Like the psalmist, I have both bad and good sessions.
2. Find a creative expression. It’s amazing how much joy can come from developing a talent or doing something you have always wanted to do. I tend to try to find mine. In 2014, I started writing my blog and started exercising consistently. It was mentally gratifying. In 2016, I started consciously walking long distances. In 2017, I started my Youtube channel and started to progress my sewing skills. In 2018, I read so many books, that I surprised myself with the total number at the end of the year. Quite naturally, I am a creative person who had a lot of time on my hands which is why every year, there tends to be something new, but this does not have to be the case for you. You just need to start one thing that feels effortless and brings you joy and spend a little time doing it and building on it. It will work wonders for your heart.
3. Say less, but be clear and concise in your communication. Communication both yours and others can cause a lot of emotional distress. One can go from sadness to anger to confusion because of a lack of discretion in communication.
- Saying less – I once had a good friend ask me about a private matter at a birthday party among other friends. I call this ‘finding yourself in an episode of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ Interestingly, I found that I knew next to nothing about the private challenges of these people. You can end up going from an audience of friends to a large viewership. Even in your absence, the strangest or most delicate things become a subject in idle conversation. Which if I am honest, we are all guilty of, therefore am not judging and neither am I encouraging living a secret life; but say only what you need to say to who you absolutely need to say it to! That my dear reader is probably top 3 of my life lessons thus far. You will always need a support system but don’t be afraid to redefine this, otherwise you risk your heart being overwhelmed by many other emotions than what you started off with. For me, ‘support system’ now means, ‘God and two or three close prayerful friends.’
- Being clear and concise in your communication – Don’t spend a a lot of energy explaining yourself over and over. I was surprised at how tiring many of my relationships where becoming. If I said, ‘No,’ some people still felt that there was room to convince me otherwise, again and again and again! Now I focus on short and concise communication. If I say, I am not coming, I will not entertain you calling me every week to try and get me to come. If you find yourself in these situations, like me you probably had a huge role to play. It means people think you enjoy talking and they will apply this judgment in every situation. It’s entirely up to you to introduce another style of communication in to the equation.
4. Work hard at minding your own business. It’s not that I previously went looking for gossip, it’s that many things tend to land on my plate and I lacked discretion on what to dissect and what not to dissect, so I would end up wasting time dissecting futile things.
A good example is once when a married friend told me, the husband’s needs always come before the children’s. My immediate argument was that, young children can’t feed, clothe or teach themselves whereas a grown man can! This argument took up a great deal of our lunch. In hindsight how does a grown woman’s household arrangement matter to me?! Not in one single way. Imagine having three or four of such long winded conversations with different people in a week. How pointless and exhausting! I used to do this constantly. One remark about natural hair would set off a whole debate. It’s things like that, which am consciously moving away from. They take up so much time and emotional space. Sometimes they even upset friendships and this is so unnecessary. I learned the importance of internal nodding and moving on in conversations. Be choosy in what you eat, some things need to stay on the plate! They are not even worth cutting up.
On the contrary if a friend tells you they are in an abusive relationship or need your in put on something serious , don’t gloss over the conversation.
Simple as they sound, these four things have shaped my day to day and resulted into so much peace and solitude, and I hope they help you shape the next 365 days.
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