Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guard Your Heart

Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life. -- Proverbs 4:23 (NET)

Thomas Keating introduces the Guard Your Heart practice to contemplative prayer.  It is the act of not allowing negative events or thoughts to cause you to dwell on the negative spin your mind might like to put on it.  You have probably experienced this.  You get a reprimand, or someone gives you some negative feedback on something you did.  You walk away dwelling on the unfairness of it.  Your mind travels down a sad, self-deprecating, or perhaps even an angry path, imagining retaliation.  One of the things you probably don't think to do is set it aside and pray.  Keating says you should do anything it takes to prevent yourself from obsessing about it.  The sad things that happen to us do not improve by letting our minds trash talk ourselves or others.  You are, in a spiritual essence, stabbing yourself in the heart.

When we dwell on our rejections, mistakes, weaknesses, and failings our hearts fall farther and farther from God until it is we who have removed ourselves from God, not the other way around.  There is no joy and no life to be found sucking on bitterness.  Pity parties are for Unbelievers and they hurt our heart, emotionally, mentally, and physically.   Instead, guard your heart.  Shut off all thinking about what happened, even if you have to do it through distraction.  Don't talk about it.  Surrender it to Christ, who intimately and effectively cares for everything about you.  Make what corrections are necessary to amend the problem as soon and as much as you can and move on with your Christian faith intact.  In Christ, life always moves forward, and the past is water under the bridge and gone.  Guard your heart with vigilance.

Eternal Christ, shine a light on the path we can take to guard our heart, to avoid dwelling on all hurtful thinking.  We claim your instruction: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)  Amen.  

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