There are many situations in life that offer an opportunity to harden or soften our hearts. Every loss, victory, grief, betrayal, doubt, success, and love (new, old, and unrequited) forces a choice upon us. The Bible promises God will replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.
The problem? Soft hearts bleed, hurt, tear, faint or fade away, but this sold-out, sacrificial, even-if-it-kills-me loving is what we’re called to. We’re called to love, and hardened hearts can’t love the way Christ called us to love one another or Him.
The risk? What some of us choose to do with the above problem is build walls around our hearts, isolate, and self-protect. Sometimes, in some seasons, you aim for survival and keep the bar low, but the risk comes at the other end of that season. The risk is allowing seeds of bitterness, loneliness, and self-sufficiency to take root in our hearts. The risk is in convincing ourselves that we can protect ourselves from being hurt again.
Do you really want to win at that game? Because if you succeed in isolating and protecting yourself from hurt, there’s no room for anyone in your heart – not even God.
In every season, we need to search out opportunities to soften our hearts. Give money to a homeless person without judgement; allow someone to make a different choice than you and love them anyway. Sometimes sold-out-loving-someone means approaching a friend, heart in hand, with humility and in love, and call them back to the pursuit of holiness.
We have control over very few things, ultimately, but the choice to learn and grow from every situation is one God leaves to us. From betrayal you can learn humility and how to lean on God. From abuse you can learn the power of forgiveness and the healing power of Christ through grief and restoration. You learn to look up no matter where you are in the arena and trust the One in control of it all. These same situations present opportunities to choose hatred, cynicism, and bitterness. The Bible promises that one path leads to life and wholeness and joy and the other is a poison that will destroy everything you hold dear.
But the choice remains yours.