Guard you heart above all else, for it is the source of life.
In middle school, my notebooks were littered with hearts. I dotted my i’s with them and every period or colon was another opportunity to perfect my symmetrical symbols for love and connection. My margins were filled with heart-eyed smiley faces, patterned hearts, and hearts with arrows through them.
I was obsessed.
As a young girl, I was told that my heart was the thing that should be protected above everything. It was the box that held all my hopes and dreams and aspirations. It was the source of everything good. But it was also the thing that, if broken, would cause me the most pain.
And it did break. Circumstances broke it. Boys broke it. Friends broke it. I broke it.
Over time, my heart became a fragmented image of what it once was. My i’s were dotted with tears instead of hearts and the hearts that had once been filled with cupid’s arrows were now pierced with rejection and disappointment.
What had gone wrong? Why was this thing that was supposedly the most important part of me the thing that was causing the most pain?
I decided that I must’ve been doing something wrong and swore that I would protect my heart at all costs.
As I set out to be my own hero, I found that the only way to not feel the broken edges was to not touch the shards.
“This is part of growing up.” I said, “I should stop being a silly girl. I should be strong.”
Fast forward to my mid twenties. I’ve lived this way for so long. I put the pieces of my heart in a box and locked it in a room no one was allowed to enter. I would tell people about my heart, but I would never let them near it. I couldn’t. What if they dropped the pieces? What if the edges cut their hands? My silly heart had caused and sustained too much damage, no wonder we were supposed to protect it.
But sometimes, it takes a person who will push past your facade and who is willing to be hurt by the shards to show you that that is not how your heart was meant to live. I wasn’t protecting my heart by disengaging from the pain, I was suffocating it. I was living my life tiptoeing around shards of emotions.
So, if that isn’t how I protect my heart, what is?
I feel a million miles away from the answer to that question. Or at least a million miles from being able to live out the answer to that question.
But maybe protecting your heart looks like not pretending you are okay when you’re feeling like your life is falling apart.
Maybe it looks like unlocking the box that has held the pieces all these years and letting them air out.
Maybe it looks like finding people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and dive into the messy parts of your life.
Maybe it looks like vulnerability and connection.
Maybe it looks like taking those broken pieces out and inviting God to heal them and protect them for you.
Maybe protecting your heart looks like relinquishing control.
I don’t know for sure. But I do know that I’m tired of being afraid of my heart, of what it might do and what other people might do to it.
I’m ready to value my heart enough to not lock it away in a box.
I’m ready to stop guarding the shards of a broken heart.