I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday vacuuming, mopping, dusting and wiping. I cleaned the fingerprints off the mirrors and windows, and washed, polished, cleaned and purged. It crossed my mind that I was going to start 2019 with a clean and tidy home, and I laughed at the thought of leaving 2018’s filth behind me, literally.
But how do I clean the mess that exists in my heart?
Its easy to do the physical labour of cleaning a home because the visual aspect is so pleasing. Its nice to have a tidy home, with the clean smell and organization. We feel good when we clean up, sort, purge and wash. When our feet are tired, we sit down and look around at all that we have accomplished and we feel a sense of pride.
But how do we measure how things are going in the unseen crevices where we hide our internal filth? How do we invest in cleaning our “internal junk” when we can’t see the efforts in the same way we can when we see a clean house for example?
I firmly believe that all things begin in our hearts. Jesus talks about this when he says its not enough to not murder, but control your anger and hatred because that’s the root that murder grows from. He talks about removing whatever you need from your life to protect your mind. It’s no surprise that my life verse, and the very foundation for Guarded Hearts Ministries is Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I recognize that my heart needs extra guarding because my mind is a liar and sometimes convinces me of things that aren’t true. Perhaps this is relatable for many who also hear the “I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough looking” lies. It also tries to convince me that I am number 1! For this reason, it’s all too easy to fall into the victim mentality. Easily I can feel sorry for my undeserving self because of that wretched thing so and so did. How could anyone treat me the way they did, or cross me the way they had?
Sometimes we have valid reason to be there too. There are many scenarios I can think of where I was victimized when I shouldn’t have been, or in a way that I would never do to someone else. Those situations sting. They keep you up at night, and can play over and over in your mind. Theres the first bitterness seed to be planted in your heart.
Next thing you know, the seed grows into a full out plant, taking space where joy and happiness once grew. Slowly, over time, you turn into someone who’s angry, bitter, resentful and unhappy. This doesn’t affect the offending party in any way, but it sure does ruin your life, your relationships and your happiness.
Jesus teaches us to forgive our enemies, and even to pray for them. It’s easy for me to pray for God to bless those whom I love. Yes God, please take care of my children, my spouse, my family. But My enemy? Naw, leave them out in the cold, k thanks! Tempting to say, am I right? Until you realize how we are all someone’s enemy.
I struggled for a long time with forgiveness. I had to really learn that I could forgive without having a relationship with someone, or by having new boundaries. Forgiveness does NOT mean reconciliation, but it does mean you get to uproot the weed of bitterness plant from your heart and allow for the joy and happiness to not be drowned out.
The greatest resolution you should make for 2019 is to clean out your heart!
Don’t bring 2018’s hurts into 2019 (or even all the previous years things you’ve harboured for that much longer.) Don’t start this year tending to a garden of weeds grown from bitterness, anger, rage, and unforgiveness. Just clean that part out of your heart however you need to: with counselling, through prayers, meditation, Bible reading, talking to a trusted friend, or whatever you need to do to move forgiveness as a concept from your brain into something you apply to your heart.
Just as it takes time and effort to clean the house, so is it with the mind. Invest in this process because it is a thousand times more beneficial than a clean home. Nothing beats peace, happiness and true joy. Don’t let anyone steal that from you this year.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”