If freely expressing one’s emotions is what it means to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve, I can honestly say that that practice no longer plagues me.
In the past, I had no boundaries. In the past, I didn’t know how to create beneficial and proper boundaries in regard to what I shared or didn’t and more often than not, relationships were … well … problematic.
Boundaries of expression and sharing are so beneficial! I wouldn’t want to go back to living like I was before.
Making one’s inner self available to the scrutiny, verbiage, and morality of others is vulnerability of the most child-like kind. As children we really don’t have the tools that more mature folk utilize nor do we have the desire to do anything but make our wants and wishes known. All the while trusting the ones around us to care appropriately and in a timely manner. As we grow, and our circles increase it becomes unwise to trust others with such precious content. Sparing and strategic use of our inner self is the wiser choice for everyone – ourselves and the precious souls around us.
Well, what is it we need to guard or protect? Our heart’s fragile, valuable, and complex content.
Using the definition of heart we looked at while pondering Proverbs 4: 23, our heart’s contents are these:
It is clear that God encourages setting good boundaries for heart contents.
Ephesians 4:26 (NASB)
Ezekiel 24:16-17 (NASB)
16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. 17 Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.”
It was this story of Ezekiel’s wife and the boundaries of grief he was instructed to keep, that inspired me to proactively protect my heart. The story is in Ezekiel 24.
God is using this prophet’s wife as a symbol of God’s sanctuary (Temple) among his beloved people. I know that because He says so in verse 21 and 22. You see, my heart was trampled early in life and the greif I lived with but did not understand was and continues to be a fredquent topic of conversation between me and my Maker. If He loved me, would he protect me?
Yes He loves me. Yes He protects me. And yes, I have a bit of responsibility to contribute to that protection. (Our contribution to protection is one of the main points contained in the book of Nehemiah.) We are not supposed to simply guard the content of our heart, we are supposed to blockade it. Strong walls are a huge deal both in Nehemiah and in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel pictured this concept of thick separation between our hearts and the outside world as the wall built around the temple in the vision he saw.
This was God’s temple. The delight of God’s eyes to which he compared the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes… Ezekiel’s wife. Its outer wall was twelve feet thick and twelve feet high. (Some scholars say 10.5 feet because they use the shorter cubit. The formula I used was that the measuring rod is six units of a long cubit plus a handbreadth or (21” + 3”)6 = 144” /12” = 12feet.)
It is interesting to note that the measurements for the wall of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven uses 144 cubits and the rest of it bears a striking resemblance to Ezekiel’s description of the temple (Revelation 21:17 ). It appears to be similar in a ratio kind of way so I’m sticking with the twelve feet thick scenario.) But so much for Bible geekery. It is OK if you disagree with the actual thickness of the wall. The point is that it was a VERY THICK wall. A definite obstacle to ingress or egress. …Except through the gates established for that purpose.
Ahhh, yes. The gates. There is another little bit of trivia here that relates to guarding our hearts as the centerpiece of our well-being, the source of life.
Did you know they open and shut? These were not just passageways through masonry. No. These were doors with hinges and locks. In particular the gates on the east side ( from the outermost gate, through the Gentile court, to the Court of Israel to the Holy of Holies ) lined up geometrically directly across from each other so that if a person stood at the eastern most gate and looked toward the center room, that holiest of buildings, gazing intently west, they could see through every open door.
Those not allowed in got to view what being “in” would allow them access to. Those who were allowed access could enter.
Access is possible. Access is protected. Access is special.
Ezekiel was given rules for this open alignment access. The gate to the inner court was shut on the six work days. It was only open on Sabbaths and the New Moon festivals (Ezekiel 46). << the moon is a reference to the female of our species and probably another reason Mrs. Ezekiel is a part of God’s story here but that is a much longer story and a discussion…eh…debate… for another day.>>
As part of my Doing of the Word last year, I set my mind to writing this blog, sharing my heart’s experiences, emotions, ponderings, etc. with you on my Saturday, my Sabbath because that is the appropriate time for opening these doors.
Here are a few things to think about.
Who is the LORD of the Sabbath? Jesus
Who is the LORD protector of your heart, His Temple?
The doors to my heart are not always open. Are yours? Do you have good thick boundaries around the contents of your heart (emotions, conscience, courage, thoughts, and understanding)? Or do you wear your heart on your sleeve, sharing whatever with whomever, whenever?