Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

Sometimes the route to reaching our potential is embedded in doubt. Hidden among the deceptive words and phrases that we use to exploit our skills and talents, fear exists. Fear feeds doubt so much that our ever-present inner voices morph into ones we don’t recognize. Often misinterpreted as the perceptions of others, the discouraging voices dig deep into our dreams and hopes to eat away at our inner drives and passions. Somehow, we allow the inner voices to become songs of discouragement and eventually, little by little, our potential slips farther and farther away as negative messages work to become the recurring playlists of our destinies.

The older I get, the more I realize that I have less tolerance for negativity and doubt. I am growing into a person that has little to no issue with removing myself from a conversation or situation when persistent negativity rears its ugly head. There is nothing wrong with that either. You have to take care of you! You must assess where you are in life and whether or not you like that particular place and space. If the answer is no, change it. Change the place and/or the space.

This goes back to my word for 2016, SPEAK. With it, I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Psalm 4:23 (NIV)

New Living Translation’s version says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

How does ‘speak’ relate? What we say about ourselves becomes what we believe about ourselves. The words that we speak have power. Power to empower, power to dismay, power to overcome, power to simply be. Those words determine the courses of our lives. If we choose to believe words that are fueled with negativity and doubt, we do ourselves a disservice to the potential that is within us.

Above all else, speak positivity. Notice I did not say speak from a place of naiveté. There is a thin line between innocence and ignorance. Depending on the topic, we walk a tightrope between the two. But how do you focus on the good when the bad is sometimes all around?

Look, I get it. Negativity happens every day in varying degrees. Some conflicts are easy to move beyond while others sting us at the core of who we are. However, you simply have to grasp whatever lessons you can from it and step forward in attempts to move beyond disappointing moments or situations.

Will your feelings get hurt in the process? Yes.

Will they remain hurt? Probably so. Hopefully not.

My coping strategy is to allow 24 hours for upset, but no more. Why? Anything longer will allow room for doubt and negative what-if statements. Depending on the level of conflict, I may adjust the 24 hour period to 12 or 36. It just depends. However, I know that moping around and playing a blame game is not conducive to becoming a better person. Matter of fact, the toughest moment may be moving forward and of course guarding your heart. Why? My thought process equates guarding the heart with forgiving and being not-so-forgetful.

God is still working on me.

Nevertheless, I grow from remembering. I grow from processing and analyzing and revisiting that pivotal moment when I realize ‘Nah, I’m good.’ The point is that growth happens. Think about it this way. You provide a listening ear to a dear friend while they vent about a significant other hurting their feelings. The first (and maybe second) time, you listen, reflect, and provide support or advice. That’s what friends do, right? Low and behold, the conversation turns into a routine check-in with repeat offenders and patterned offenses. However, you hold your advice (and phone) offering moments of ‘Wow, really? That’s so messed up.’ Deep down, you so badly want to say ‘I told you so.’ Deep down, you want to say ‘Stop being so stupid. Get it together. You’re better than this.’ The eye rolling may or may not happen.

Do you realize that those moments are what we need to do for ourselves? Sometimes we need to be the person holding the phone with the eye roll when speaking to ourselves. How dare we tell ourselves that the proverbial ‘they’ were right and that something won’t happen? How dare we discourage ourselves while pouring into someone else or encouraging someone else’s dream? How dare we let hurt feelings overshadow our excitement about possibility and potential? We (yes, you too) have to learn to pour into ourselves! We have to learn this! If we don’t, we will look back over time wasted and wonder what if.

What if we did something with all of our potential? What if we took those nasty critiques and looked beyond feelings to reveal existing themes? What if we took those themes and polished them to help us move forward? Again, we have to do better folks.

I find myself thinking a lot lately. Many of my conversations have similar themes despite them involving different people. I feel like we are often on the same journey near familiar milestones because the conversations are so similar. It leaves me wondering if there is an early-30’s crisis that sneaks upon us like an unexpected press conference consisting of invasive life questions. Do you think you’ll have a career change? You want to live where? Why? When will you start having kids? What are you waiting on? Aren’t you worried about getting married? (…and the list goes on)

It’s draining. And to answer all of the above questions I say ‘No, I don’t have my life figured out.’

Perhaps it’s because I cling to hope. You see, I believe in fairy tales. I believe in moments of spontaneous occurrences that have hidden meaning. I believe that each moment and life decision is based on those before, whether we realize it or not. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps these beliefs keep me on the straight and narrow as I guard my heart to discover life’s next adventure. Perhaps, these statements are what I cling to, to remain hopeful in the good that exists in others. Perhaps, the conflicts are life’s symbolic weeding out process that challenge us to move beyond internalized doubt to accept change.

Perhaps this guarded heart is in fact determining the course of life. Who knows? One thing I know for sure is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of you. Leave any outstanding issues in God’s hands and strive to move onward to bigger and better things that provide joy, peace, and amazing moments of self-care. Love yourself, stick to your values, and make yourself proud!

God bless you,
K. Jones ♥


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