This past month, I have found that it’s time for me to turn down the volume on all the social media voices in my head.
The thing is- my heart just can’t take the negativity, anger, and hate any longer. I have found myself becoming more of the things that I don’t like about myself- more impatient, more defensive, more self-centered, more sarcastic, more opinionated, and more fearful.
So am I just burying my head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on? Oh, maybe a little bit. But most of all, I’ve entered a state where I’m more concerned with my heart than my head.
More than emotions
Now, don’t misunderstand what I mean by “heart.” Our hearts go way beyond our surface emotions. The biblical word for heart is actually sometimes translated in older Bible versions as “bowels,” referencing the digestive system of the body- thought to be our main control center, and rightly so. In biblical language, emotions would be more akin to our appetite or desires- things that can be easily swayed by circumstances or feelings.
Just as we can condition our bodies to craving food that isn’t healthy by regularly giving in to desires for unhealthy foods, so can we condition our emotional appetites in the same way. We give in to the adrenalin rush that comes from destructive emotions like fear and rage; and if we give in to those things often enough, soon they will become the default way that we respond to things around us.
Your heart defines you
On the other hand, our heart is that place that defines us. Yes, it is affected by our emotions, by what we feed our minds. But more than that, our heart is the place where we hold our beliefs- what we know to be true and right and good, and what we know to be wrong and evil.
When I made the decision to tune out most media, it was in response to a familiar verse in Proverbs 4 that says, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
I want to be a life-giver, a person who speaks life, love, grace, and goodness. Those are the things I want to be my default.
How do I make that happen? How do I guard my heart? The answer is… I don’t. Take a look at what Paul writes in Philippians 4: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God’s peace is the “guard” over my heart and my mind! My part in the process is to keep the Lord near in His rightful place- to abide in Him, to remain in His presence, to remember He is right here in all His glory, in all His sovereignty. He is my refuge to run to when my emotions unravel. He takes my focus off the chaos, and allows me to be filled with His gentleness.
I want that peace
I want to listen to the cicadas and crickets and frogs in my yard without fearing what’s going to happen tomorrow. I want to watch the beautiful sunsets and sunrises the Lord has given us this season without caustic and critical and enraged voices in my head. I want to watch the life all around me- bulbs blooming, kittens playing, children squealing as they run through the icy water sprinkler on a hot day. I want to enjoy my days without a constant ache in my spirit.
Yes, in this world, we will have trouble- we are having trouble. It’s not going away no matter how loudly we scream and yell. But we still have a gentle, omnipotent Savior who has overcome the world. He is the source of my peace. For this season, I’m turning my sights off of the world, and turning my focus on Him. He is my life, He is my future, He is my healer; and He is the only answer for all of us.
I’m going to let Him put a guard over my heart. I’m going to draw near to Him, listen to Him, and let Him settle my spirit. Why don’t you join me?