"Protect my heart, Lord," is prayer I never prayed, until recently.
In the past, when I have been really hurt or wounded, I have noticed a pattern of response: first, I would cry, second, I'd forgive, and then I would protect my own heart. I was told long ago that you can freely love everyone, but trust has to be earned. And that was my ticket- I'd forgive, but felt that I no longer had to trust the person who hurt me. They were put on my,'"Do Not Trust,' list. Whenever I had dealings with one of these people, I would be friendly and casual, but never deep, or transparent. I kept them at a certain distant from my heart at all times- never allowing them in, unless the trust was rebuilt, and rarely was trust rebuilt.
Recently, I've been hurt. Not just any little hurt, a real punch to the gut, kind of hurt. I cried for a good long time, then dried my eyes and said, 'Well, I'll never trust that person again.' I tried to go on with life as usual, but there has been no 'usual' since. Each day I would think about what happened. Each day I would profess forgiveness for each thing that wounded my heart. Each day I would ask God, "How can I ever trust 'so-in-so' again?" There was no answer.
Well, the other day I heard myself in prayer, talking to God. "Lord, I forgive this person, but I know they don't even like me, so what do I do?" I heard it...'they don't even like me.' What did those words really mean? They mean, I believe this person is going to hurt me again. If someone doesn't like me or finds me annoying, (which is what I fully believed) then how can I be myself, talk casually and not be hurt again? I can't. I will be hurt again, and that's the issue- afraid of being hurt, again. I didn't know how to protect my heart from the inevitable. I cried out, "Lord, protect my heart!"
All these years I've been trying to protect my own heart from being hurt by the same person who hurt me once, but I never could. The only real way to protect my heart or strategy was to distance myself from them, loose the friendship, or simply-avoidance. In protecting my heart I had to constantly remind myself what the offender did to me. I thought I was completely in the right to remember the hurt. To not trust. To keep certain people at an arms length. I was wrong. The Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that we are to keep no record of wrongs. No record. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) Love is having no record of hurt against a person. With no record of wrongs, with no list of hurt or offenses, I have no reason to distance myself from someone. No reason to guard my heart. I must forgive, tear up the list of hurt, love again, trust again, and allow Jesus to protect my heart.
In having Jesus protect my heart I am under no illusion that it should mean that I will never be hurt again. I know I will be hurt again, but the difference is I can live freely now. I can love freely. No more records. No more having to be alert and on guard every time I go out. I can be myself and allow the Lord to watch over me. And I truly believe that the Lord is able to do a much better job than I ever could. I have so many testimonials of how God has protected my very life from physical pain and death, and yet I never thought to allow God to protect my sensitive heart. Who knows, maybe this will be the beginning of not being so sensitive. Maybe as the Lord removes the fear of being hurt, I will not hear the whispers behind my back, or notice the mean glances. In not having to be so focused on protecting my heart, but rather loving others, maybe there just won't be so much hurt.
This is new for me. Sadly, it has taken me so long to figure it out, but I am here, trusting God with my heart. I am excited about all that will happen- deeper friendships, new friends, and the restoration of old friends. We have this one chance to live as Jesus- to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Luke 10:27) It is my goal to love everyone, freely, with all my heart, and without fear.