Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
--Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
When I was a teenager, I had a bad habit of leaving my purse in my car. Because I tend to be forgetful, I thought I was better off leaving it in the one place I knew I would be on a daily basis.
One day, I walked out to my driveway and noticed various bits of papers strewn in the grass. Upon further inspection, I saw these were things which had been in my purse. Sure enough, I opened the door and discovered my purse was gone. I had to go through the arduous task of obtaining a new driver's license, student ID, Social Security and bank cards. For me, the consequences were over and I had heard my lesson; that is, until I tried to apply for my first credit card. I soon discovered that whoever had stolen my purse graciously helped themselves to my credit, ordering cell phones and applying for loans across the state. Before I was even old enough to rent a car, I was the victim of identity theft.
These days, I guard my purse like a hawk. I don't go anywhere without checking and double-checking that my purse is either on my shoulder or sitting right next to me. If anybody even so much as places a pinky on my satchel, I have a can of Mace with their name written all over it.
But these are just material things. What about the things that really matter?
What about our hearts?
I have been guilty of granting unlimited access to my heart. In friendships, with co-workers and even with people I've dated, I have allowed people to take as much of me as they wanted. I have poured out everything I had--time, money, energy, encouragement, love--to the point where there was nothing left. I thought that was what a Christian is supposed to do; give and give until you can't give anymore.
Sorry. Wrong answer.
This verse in Proverbs reminds us that our heart is our most prized possession. It is the source of our lives, and we should treat it accordingly. Now, that's not to say there is anything wrong with being an encouragement to others. In my case, that's just who I am and that will never change. However, when you're dealing with "heart thieves," there comes a moment when you must ask yourself:
Are they making more withdrawals than deposits?
Let's be honest--not everyone is sincere. There are people who, God bless 'em, don't know how to do anything but use others. They operate through guilt trips, deceit and (my personal pet peeve) passive-aggressiveness. And when they have taken all that they believe you have to offer, they will walk away, more than likely taking with them a piece of your heart.
You get mad. You cry. You feel like everyone in the whole world is against you. You feel like the answer to this current heartache is to place your heart under lock and key and never allow anyone to get close again. FBRs, there's no need to be so drastic. All you have to do is learn how to control who has access.
A lot of people I know have a general idea about where I live. A smaller group can tell you my address. My inner circle knows when I'll be at home. But only two people other than me have the keys to my house.
Guard your heart. In this life, you only get one.