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5 Practical Ways to Guard Your Heart

By: Guest Blogger

He was one of the godliest guys I knew.

From similar ministry goals to the same taste in music, we had so much in common. He challenged me to follow Jesus and inspired me with his love for God.

It didn’t hurt that he was also very good-looking.

I’d had crushes before, usually admiring from a distance or stalking him on social media. But this time, he was the one reaching out to me. Pursuing me. Or so it seemed.

We lived in different states, so most of our communication was through email. Every time his name popped up on my phone screen, I couldn’t help the ear-to-ear grin spreading across my face or the way my heart rate picked up. Without giving my heart any permission, I was developing a serious, life-sized crush on this guy.

One afternoon, after a few months of correspondence, I sent a reply to his most recent email. As usual, I couldn’t wait to hear back from him.

A few days passed. Nothing.

Then a few weeks. Nothing. A month . . . two. Still nothing.

Fast forward to today, and I haven’t heard from him since. No “Sorry, I’ve been out of touch.” No tactful excuses or subtle reasons.

In the first few weeks, I vacillated between hopeful, to confused and hurt, to downright angry. After months of wrestling, my emotions swinging like a pendulum, I finally surrendered the situation to God. Peace descended, though my heart still stung with assumed rejection.  

While the situation was difficult, I’ve learned and grown from it. Looking back, I wish I’d guarded my heart more. Yes, he shouldn’t have been leading me on, but I should have been wiser and more vigilant with my own heart.

As Christian girls, we often hear the words “guard your heart.” It’s a purity catch-phrase, but I rarely understood what it meant. Three times in the Song of Solomon, we’re charged not to “stir up or awaken love.”

My only question?

How?

1. Guard Your Mind

As always, Jane Austen hits the nail on the head. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy says, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

Amen, Mr. Darcy.

You see a cute guy. You find out he’s a Christian. You finagle a way to talk to him and you chat for a few minutes. He’s sweet. You’re excited. You walk away from your conversation with butterflies in your stomach. Before you know it, you’re trying out how your first name sounds with his last name.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

We daydream and basically obsess over the guy we’re currently crushing on. From imagining potential scenarios to conjuring up a handful of kids with his eyes and our smile, we let our minds run wild. After all, what’s the harm in it?

More than we realize.

Not only is it dishonoring to the man we’re fantasizing over and our future husband, it’s bordering on lust. Jesus tells us adultery begins in the heart, in the secret places of our minds. He says whoever looks at someone to lust over them, has already committed adultery in their heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28) While scribbling “Mr. and Mrs. (Blank)” in a journal may not be the definition of lust, unchecked daydreams and obsessions feed unhealthy thought patterns that can go downhill fast.

I’m by no means perfect at this. For years, I let my imagination run wild before I realized how destructive it was. Habits are hard to break, however, and I still find myself occasionally battling this mindset.

Keeping your thoughts pure is one way to honor the men in your life, as well as your future husband. Not only does it promote purity in your current relationships, it’s excellent training for marriage. Habits are hard to break, and if your habits are obsessively daydreaming about guys, that’s not going to stop the moment a ring is on your finger.

To clarify, there’s a difference between being tempted and giving into temptation. It’s not a sin to notice that a guy is good looking, but it can be a sin to feed those thoughts to the point of obsession and borderline lust. It’s not wrong to admire the personality or character of someone, but it is wrong to give your imagination permission to run wild.

Guarding your mind could be the hardest work you ever do. But it’s worth it. Memorize Scripture and quote it when you’re struggling. When you find yourself slipping up, use it as a springboard to pray for someone. Fill your mind with pure and good things and intentionally focus on them. The most important part of guarding your heart is guarding your mind.

2. Be Careful With Online Interaction

While email and Facebook can be helpful in long-distance relationships, without the relationship being previously defined, it can be hard and confusing.

Online interaction is one-dimensional. It only shows a small part of someone’s life, personality, and beliefs. You could think you’re falling in love with someone, but not know them at all. Online interaction feels real, but it’s actually not. It feeds an idealized picture face-to-face communication can’t.

Be careful and discerning with texting, messaging, emailing, and other forms of online communication. Don’t give your heart away online.

3. Have Boundaries in Place (and don’t be afraid to voice them)

Boundaries are vital in healthy, God-honoring relationships. Whether it’s a casual friendship or a romantic relationship, boundaries help keep the focus on God and purity instead of feelings.

These are things you set in place beforehand to guard against compromise later. They’re not legalism or a strict list of do’s and don’ts, but guidelines of protection. Having boundaries about physical contact, online interaction, time alone, and other fuzzy areas can help provide clarity. You never have to wonder, “How far is too far?” if you’ve already set the measurement. If someone crosses a boundary, it’s entirely appropriate to state it and request they abide by it.

I’d encourage you to set these in place with the guidance of your parents, a mentor, or other older person you trust. And then . . .

4. Have Accountability

This is the one thing I’m so glad I did. My mom and sister were aware of and active in my correspondence with that young man. They had the freedom to read every email I sent and everyone I received and often did, at my request. I’m so thankful for the accountability they offered. Not only did it help me keep my head on straight, but it also helped me in the confusing weeks after.

Whether it’s a parent, older sibling, or mentor, accountability is one of the most important ways to guard your heart. Nothing good comes of keeping a relationship a secret. Other people can help you see things clearly when you’re looking at the world through the rose-colored glasses of infatuation. They can help you keep a level head when you want to fall head-over-heels for a guy. They can offer advice, prayer, and wisdom that will not only prepare you for a relationship but most importantly, build a strong relationship with Jesus.

5. Let Jesus Guard Your Heart

After sharing the situation with a dear friend, she sent me a message which said, “Maybe your Father God put a blinder over this young man’s eyes, so he wouldn’t see the treasure that is you. What feels right now like rejection, might actually be God’s protection.”

I burst into tears.

While I hadn’t done a good job of guarding my heart, I realized Jesus was the only one who could truly guard it. Even when I was blinded and focused on my feelings, Jesus was faithfully watching over my heart and protecting me. It took Him removing this relationship for me to see it, though.

My sweet sister in Christ, I encourage and challenge you—let Jesus guard your heart. Yes, relationships are often confusing and heartrending, but throw yourself at His feet day after day. Commit your heart to Him—all your longings, dreams, heartaches, and emotions—and let Him bind up your heart with His cords of perfect love. Let Him soothe the sting of rejection, the ache of brokenness and loneliness, and shower you with His great and unspeakable love.

Give Him your future. Let Him take control. Seek Him daily, hourly, for grace and help to guard your heart and mind. But mostly, stay hidden within the shelter of His wings and lost in His love. Because it’s a love stronger, better, more pure, perfect, and unwavering than any other love on earth.

I’d love to hear from you!

-Have you ever experienced something like I shared? What happened and what did you learn from it?

-Which point is hardest for you? Why?

-What other ways can you practically guard your heart?

Bio: Sara Barratt is a 19-year-old writer, avid reader, chocolate lover, and lead editor for TheRebelution. Her first book releases Spring 2020 from Baker Books. Her passion is challenging teens to live sold-out and set-apart for Jesus. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and her website sarabarratt.com.

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Radical Purity
  • Amazing post, Sara!!! Thanks for pointing us back to the truth of God’s Word! ❤️

    • Sara Barratt

      Thank YOU, friend! I’m so glad it was a blessing to you!!! <3

  • Shanae B

    Great advice!

    • Sara Barratt

      Thanks for reading, Shanae! 🙂 Blessings!

  • So relatable and helpful! Thanks for writing this, Sara.

    • Sara Barratt

      Aww, thank you, Sara! That means so much to me! I’m thankful it was helpful to you. <3

  • Susanna Rachaprolu

    Thank you so much, Sara. It always amazes me how timely each GirlDefined post is in my life. God bless you!

    • Sara Barratt

      Aww… Praise God! I’m so very glad it was timely for you! That makes my day! God bless you too! <3

  • Chris

    Thanks so much for this badly needed article, Sara!

    • Sara Barratt

      You are so welcome, Chris! Thank YOU! <3

  • Nelli Savchenko

    Wow! When I was reading this I felt like you were talking to me!!! Thank you for this! I think for me personally, and I am trying to work on this, but it was seeking this guy’s approval for me more than God’s approval of me!! I just need to understand and drill it in that ONLY JESUS can give me that amazing LASTING joy and satisfaction!!! May God bless you!! Thanks girl!

    • Sara Barratt

      Oh my, Nelli! Your comment brought a big smile to my face. I’m so grateful you were able to relate. You are so welcome. And yes, I really relate to that as well. I know I’ve done that too. But you are so right…ONLY Jesus can bring us that joy! Thank you for sharing! Keep seeking Jesus! Blessings! <3

  • Ann

    WOW! WOW! WOW! Awesome post!!!
    I Love the way you put it!
    Jesus is the the Key to guarding your heart; He’s the way, the truth, and the life!!!!!!

    ♥♥♥♥♥

    • Sara Barratt

      Aw, thank you, Ann! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! ❤

  • Jessica Daniels

    Great post! This is such a timely post filled by the Spirit. I am almost 23 and have experienced this recently. I always guarded my heart up until I thought I guarded it too much for too long. The fear of being alone took over and I let my guard slip. But I learned the hard way that I should keep guarding my heart – and with good reason! No one can bring lasting joy like Jesus. Thanks for the encouragement in pursuing Jesus and a pure heart. Plus you are quite an amazing writer, Sara. Be blessed!

    • Sara Barratt

      Jessica, thank you for taking the time to read this and encourage me! You have no idea how much it means! You are so right…nothing brings joy like Jesus. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I can relate and I know how hard that fear is. But praise Jesus for His faithfulness. Keep seeking Him! ❤

  • Rachel Schoenborn

    Wow. This was such an awesome post.

    • Sara Barratt

      All glory to Jesus, Rachel! Thank you so much for reading! ❤

  • Kaitlin Masters

    Oh wow this really means a lot to me. I’m still in high school and I have been through this and have slowly broken the habit, but now I’m starting to really see it those around me. I don’t know how to bring it up to the and just let them know what I’m thinking about all of it and what God’s word says. If you have any advice that would be very appreciated. I thank you for this post and I’m really taking these words to heart. I’ll have to read your book when it comes out!

    • Sara Barratt

      Hi Kaitlyn! First, your comment means so much to me! Thank you, thank you! Praise God for how He’s worked in your life and how you want to share it with others. I would strongly advise, before anything, praying for those other girls. They need those prayers and prayer is powerful! Pray for opportunities to share this stuff with them. And when you do, do so with a “I’ve struggled with this too” attitude. That makes it so much more relatable. Sharing articles like this or others on GD would be a great conversation starter. Just like “I read this article and really loved it. What’s your thoughts on it?” And possibly, if they’re receptive starting a book study of Love Defined or something. God will use you as you seek Him! ❤ I hope this sparks some ideas! Thank you, Kaitlyn! Blessings to you! ❤

  • Loren

    Oh man did I need this post. Thank you so much!

  • Ellie

    Oh my gosh. That was pretty amazing. No guy has EVER asked me out, and I’m 17.

    So I often feel…weird, left out, forgotten??? Well, there’s this one cute guy I get to see about twice a year, and he’s the nicest boy that’s ever talked to me. He doesn’t treat me like a space alien, actually like the human I am. Well, to say it shortly, I’ve fantasized about him waaayyy more than I should have. I want to stay friends with him, I don’t think that’s a bad thing is it?
    I mean, girls are like total jerks to me… Anyhow, thanks for the blog. It was awesome!!

  • Bay

    Wow that was amazing! I’m always looking to learn more on how to guard my heart which is not an easy task. Prayer and asking God to guard and hold my heart , which he will not let it “go” to a man until it is the right time. I’m 21 years old and have never had a boyfriend or been kissed so you can do it. Stay strong in your beliefs and convictions ladies!

    • Sara Barratt

      I looove your perspective, Bay! You’re right on! I completely agree and I can just say….keep on keeping on! Keep seeking Jesus, trusting Him, guarding your heart, and standing strong! Thanks so much for reading! ❤

    • Javi

      Thanks for your words! I’ve recieving a lot of comments like “nobody will love you with you old fashioned way of love, be modern” …I know thats no true , but I’m so glad to see that women in all over the world still strong!

  • Birgit

    Wow thank you. There is a guy in my life right now that I obsess over and suffer from it. I will talk with my mentor about boundaries I can set, especially since we work in the same office, so I see him a lot.

    • Sara Barratt

      Of course, Birgit! I’m so glad it was helpful. I can totally relate and I’m excited you’re going to talk to your mentor about it. That’s an awesome step to take. Praying right now God leads you!

  • Rachel

    Something similar happened to me almost four years ago. I had a friend since I was 11 (now turning 25) who I used to talk with very often. We both are Christians, born in a Christian family and like similar things. I cherised a lot his friendship because he became my friend in a time when I was very alone and had no one. We used to sit together at church when he still lived here, send sms to each other when we weren’t together and when he moved to another state, we still stayed in touch and write each other frequently. However, after the summer of 2015 (when I saw him for the last time), that friendship started to fall apart. I thought that during this visit we would spend some time together and talk a lot, but nothing happened. We barely exchanged greetings and that was all. Later, when he returned home I wrote him several times, but he would answered my messages hours and even days later… until he just didn’t anymore. At first, I was hurt, then sad, then angry, then angrier as I felt my pride was crushed. (months later I found out he was dating a girl from his city). I didn’t try to reach him anymore. A year later, in the fall of 2016, I deleted my facebook account and created a new one. (I had lost my phone, btw). Months later I got a friend request from him. I was still hurt, so I didn’t accepted it until round seven months later. Sometime later he congratulated me for my birthday, I thanked him politely and then didn’t wrote back anymore. He wrote me a few weeks ago, I answered believing I had forgiven him (and thinking I had to be polite), but after like three exchanges and no more reply from him I decided not to write him back ever again. This time hurt less, but hurt anyway.

    As I previously said, he became my friend almost 14 years ago when no one else did. I did value his friendship, but now, I just don’t wanna hear from him ever again. This post was kind of a confirmation of something I already was starting to realize. I didn’t guard my heart, even from someone I, at first, didn’t see as a prospect of marriage. However, now I’ve learned to be careful with the people I let get close to me, so I guess it wasn’t as bad as it seems..
    Thanks for sharing your experience, it has opened my eyes.

    • Sara Barratt

      Hey Rachel. Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your experience. Wow, I’m so sorry. That sounds really hard. I’m sorry he treated you like that and that it was so confusing and hurtful. I can really relate. I’m glad my experience helped bring clarity to you and that it encouraged you. I want to let you know that you’re worth being pursued and that IT WASN’T YOU. I know I had moments where I wondered, “Was it me? Was I not good enough for him? Did I disappoint him or do something wrong?” But no. The right man will not play with your heart or lead you on. So please, keep seeking Jesus, don’t give up hope, guard your heart, and know that your heart is a precious treasure. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Rachel! <3


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