Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trusting Your Heart to the One Who Knows It


Doorway to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's 1920s apartment in Paris.

I love a heartwarming front door that's adorned to welcome the season. 

But since it's still summer for a while in Florida {at least until Christmas}, my heart just isn't in it to hang an autumn wreath on my door yet. So I decided to go green.

I've been admiring boxwood wreaths since they look so fresh and elegant, but when I bought one and hung it on my door, it didn't look nearly as fabulous as I thought. 

I somehow forgot the fact that my door is also green so having a green wreath against a green-painted door just looked like my house was festooned in greenery {although very eco-friendly}.




But a few weeks later I noticed the leaves on my wreath were speckled with black mold. I’m not sure why I was so surprised since I ignored the recommendations to keep it inside, safe from heat and humidity. 

So when my ten-year-old nephew asked me if he could do chores for cash, I told him if he scrubbed my wreath free of the mold, I’d pay him $20. 

His eyes lit up and he started to scrub. Twenty minutes later he told me he didn’t think he would be able to remove all of it. Even though I joined him in the scrubbing effort, it was an impossible task. I had to throw away the wreath. 

{But being the good-hearted auntie that I am, I still paid my nephew for his effort.}

Last week, I bought my second boxwood wreath.

Except this time I’m going to take care of it and protect it a little better than I did the first one. I think it's worth it.




A friend and I were talking recently about guarding our hearts. We wondered exactly what it is our hearts need. We wondered how we can unselfishly give others what their hearts need. We wondered how we can know how to love our own hearts and love another's heart too. 

I think God can help us figure that out. Because I've been astonished how many times God knew just what my heart desperately needed and I've been wonderstruck that what my heart desires is important to him.

I've been reading a lot lately about how much our hearts matter to God. In scripture, God gives us a lot of words about our hearts. How to keep our hearts, what to fill our hearts with, who to set our hearts on. 

For most of my life, I thought I wanted my heart to be filled with all of life’s good things. Happiness and enjoyment, satisfaction and contentment, and peace and hope.

But I also wanted to keep my heart safe from life’s stings. I didn’t want my heart to feel disappointment or pain or fear, so I tried to build a fortress around it. 

I closed the door to my heart.



But this was a numbing way to live. I realized I couldn’t have it both ways. 

I couldn’t keep my heart closed off to what I wanted to avoid and still keep it open to receive life's delights. So I tried telling my heart some half-truths. 

I told my heart that I didn’t care that I wasn’t married because I preferred solitude over constant company. 

I told my heart that I liked staying safely at home so I didn't have to worry about traveling to new places. 

I told my heart that I was content with my life so I didn't need new adventures or have to take any risks.

So my barricaded heart and I settled down to years of status quo living. 



Until God started calling my name. {Not out loud, of course.} I wasn’t sure I heard him at first. Surely he wasn't talking to me? It seemed everywhere I turned the same questions appeared.

Did I want to experience God differently? 
Did I want to take some risks and be a part of what God wanted to show me? 
Did I want to trust God with my life instead of trying to control every event and outcome?

It took some time for me to answer. But God didn’t rush me. He patiently pursued me. 

I was used to reminding myself not to get my hopes up or not to delight in a new adventure because I was sure something would go wrong and I’d be disappointed later. 

But every so often, my fears would be unfounded.


When I traveled to Paris, I was able to cope with a few minor mishaps and still enjoy the adventure. 

When another hopeful relationship fizzled, I realized that I lived through that disappointment just fine and it inspired me to take a step of faith that I wouldn’t have taken without the experience.

When I started writing from a deeper place in my heart that I felt God nudging me toward, I found that I connected more because I let myself be known more. 

It started dawning on me that I could risk opening the door to my heart because I could trust God with my heart. 



That didn’t mean there wouldn’t be any pain or fear or disappointment. 

But with all of his strength and all of his power at work within me, he promised that I would have the courage to face it. 

When I give all of my heart to God, only then can I understand what it is that my heart truly desires. 

Our hearts – God’s and mine – will be yearning for the same things and I will at last, want what he wants.

That's why I hope with all of my heart, I love with all of my heart, and I believe with all of my heart. 



So I’ve had a change of heart.

My new boxwood wreath is hanging inside my house, against my white-framed mirror, over my mantel.  

{It didn't look all that great on my front door anyway.}

I intend to take care of it. Especially now that I’ve spent far more than I originally intended by purchasing two wreaths and paying my nephew’s wreath-cleaning bill. 

But I take heart.

Because I'm trusting that all that's fresh, vibrant, hopeful and beautiful find their way to my open heart.


Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Ps. 31:24



I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for Your Heart and the Saturday Soiree Blog Party with Sarah Ann at Faith Along the Way. Click the images for more encouragement!





10 comments:

  1. I love that your are moving out of status quo and opening into new adventures--Paris, cooking classes, and exotic birthday trips (yet to come). :)

    It reminds me of my adventures as a child during the summer. Every year, just as it began to get hot in Florida, I remember wanting to get into the pool. I had two choices--dive in and get used to the water temperature immediately, or slowing walk in as I agonized over the cooler water touching me. That simple experience reminds me it's best sometimes to just dive right into change. This way I can get used to it immediately, otherwise I would slowly wade and waffle until I accept the inevitable change.

    So as you "[trust] that all that's fresh, vibrant, hopeful and beautiful find [a] way to open [your] heart," I hope you hold onto God's hands and jump in together, trusting he will protect you and keep you safe along the journey.

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    1. Bree,
      I love the word picture of diving in to changes in our lives (especially the wade and waffle alliteration too)! I'm so glad God allowed my path to cross with yours so I can have the joy of doing life with you!

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  2. Lovely photos Valerie! You know how I feel about doors and arches and this post is full of them! You are so brave to open your heart the way you do, you are an inspiration!

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    1. Brittany,
      Yes, I know we both love doorways! I think they symbolize new paths of adventure that we hope will lead us to someplace beautiful! Dreaming about doorways . . . :)

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  3. Beautiful wreath! I love the end of this-when I trust God with my heart, I can hope with all of my heart, love with all of my heart, and believe with all of my heart.
    That is what He wants, our hearts!

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  4. "I was used to reminding myself not to get my hopes up or not to delight in a new adventure because I was sure something would go wrong and I’d be disappointed later." - i really connect with this mentality Valerie. It is so much easier to be the eternal pessimist (we think) instead of being hopeful and crushed. Isn't amazing how much we miss with that mentality? I loved the truth you told when telling about the impossibility of having a closed heart and still being able to receive. I've recently listened to a relationships expert say the same thing. That a closed off heart can't be open to anyone, really.
    I really like this line too, "When I give all of my heart to God, only then can I understand what it is that my heart truly desires. " You are so right And many times this giving away of my heart for His own safe keeping is such a daily thing I do every day, when I take risks and love Him today. I am happy for your courage, your new experiences, and your writing.

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    1. Summer,
      A pessimistic outlook, although sometimes easier, does keep us focused on ourselves instead of connecting with others and experiencing life, doesn't it? Grateful for your encouragement!

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  5. Oh this was definitely me, guarding my heart and in the process missing out on so many wonderful experiences. I have learnt (although it was hard to let go) to trust God with all my heart. The biggest thing for me has been accepting that He has a plan and I have to trust that. And that brings me peace. I am not going to deny that sometimes a pang of fear may show, but the trust I have been cultivating with God is stronger and it makes me stronger.

    Maria {Shoots + Roots}

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    1. Mariangie,
      I love your wisdom learned on your journey! I'm hoping too, that the trust I'm cultivating with God makes me stronger. . . thank you for sharing your insights. Grateful you stopped by!

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