Open the gates, let down the walls, and allow the One who formed your heart to cherish it well. Sometimes, the best lessons in life come from broken walls, and not the ones we as humans build up trying to protect ourselves.
Editor's Note: This article is part of our Valentine's Love Letter series. Check out the previous letter here.
To the Woman who Can't Trust Love,
You are not alone in this struggle. Though I am in a trustworthy relationship now, I think for a long time, my conception of love was skewed.
As a little girl, it was distorted by my parent's crumbling marriage. As a pre-teen, Disney movies and love songs created unrealistic expectations. By the time I was a teenager, this "love," was warped by the lack of affection from those around me, and twisted into what I thought it was supposed to be or feel like. I didn't understand that love isn't like the movies. I didn't comprehend that what I craved from others would only pale in comparison to the adoration Christ has for me.
When I graduated high school and entered college, I genuinely thought something was wrong with me. I was twenty-two before I went on my first date, and leading up to that time I was an emotional wreck. What started out as a wound led me to create a vow that I promised I would never let happen again:
“I am not going to like anyone until _________.”
“I am going to guard my heart because I don’t want to get hurt.”
“They couldn’t possibly like me; therefore, I am not going to share my feelings.”
As a result of these affirmations, I started to not only protect myself from other people and their love but God and His. I began to think, “Surely I can guard my heart and this won’t happen,” “Surely I will avoid love at all costs," "Surely love is not worth the risk even though they tell me it is.”
While I thought I was busy guarding my heart against earthly love, the reality was I was only guarding my heart against God. And didn’t He take the ultimate risk of love when He died on the cross for me?
Unfortunately, when you have a veil in your life like a wound, it easily creates a vow. You vow you won't date a person shorter than you, or you won't lower your standards. You are scared to get hurt. And those are reasonable claims. But more often than not, those promises create distrust in God. We think we can take care of and protect ourselves, and if we are honest, not associating with anyone of the opposite sex seems to be a viable option that is working pretty darn well.
Yet, instead of protecting ourselves, we end up creating harm in retaliation for the love that God has for us.
At twenty-one years old, I believed I wasn't worthy of love. I was too short for some and too tall for others. Too skinny for most, and not athletic enough for the majority. My personality was kind, so I had to be fake. The list could go on and on.
When I believed these statements, they created a wretched lie: If no human could ever want me, then why would a perfect God?
It was not until I realized the true breadth and length of God's love for me despite any love a guy could give me that the walls of my guarded heart began to lower.
Today, the same goes for how we view ourselves, and the love we think we deserve.
If we keep on praying that God will bring us the right person at the right time but never allow Him to break our guard down, we cannot expect to meet the man. How can we meet someone when we don’t allow God who created our heart to see it with full-blown insecurities and broken-down walls?
No matter who you are and where you are today, I want to encourage you to do something scary. I know you have been wounded. I know you feel like you cannot trust love. But right here, and right now, I am asking you to choose Love and to choose to trust love. Not because you feel like it, but because you trust Love Himself to bring you the love here on earth you so richly desire.
Male or female, single, dating, engaged, or married, we can choose to love and trust Love even when it scares us. For it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. And why?
Because at twenty-one years old, I decided to choose love even though it scared me head-over-heels to know I could be hurt again. I decided to confront my fears that even though I could and will still be hurt again, being guarded and closed-off to all possibilities of love is not healthy.
Even though my boyfriend and I are pursuing engagement in 2022, I realize that there will be times where I will be heartbroken again. There will be days where love is not what I want to choose.
Some of you may want your first relationship to be your only relationship and it may, or it may not happen. There is always a risk with love.
But love is a risk worth taking because when Christ died on the cross for you and me, He knew we might never love Him back. And to this day, some people still don’t. He didn’t have a guarded heart or put up walls that blocked people from seeing His view. No, He went to those who were the most unlovable and loved them anyway.
To the prostitutes, tax collectors, Pharisees, and even scoffers, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, King James Version). And hanging from a cross, He saw love not for what it felt like, looked like, or was even experienced, but what it should be. A love that was not guarded, but stripped down, broken, bloodied, and disfigured. It saw the best interest at heart, and never once thought, “What about me?”. It was sacred, not scared, holy, not self-seeking, sacrificial, not conceited, forgiving, not condemning, open, not closed, vulnerable, not hidden, real, not a show, thoughtful, but not naïve.
In Proverbs 4:23, we read, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, Easy Read Version), but we do not read, “guard your heart against love and fail to trust God” in the process.
When the Scriptures tell us to “guard our hearts,” it means that we need to be careful about how we think, because what we think becomes what we do, and how we live.
You Deserve Love
If we are always thinking negatively about ourselves and the love we do or don't deserve, we are more subject to accept abuse (even from ourselves) because it is what we have trained ourselves to believe. Not only does this deny Christ's love within us, but it gives the Devil a foothold as the Father of Lies. Finding true love and giving it away starts with recognizing God's love and understanding that we deserve it.
When we allow our hearts to be tainted by the love we “think” we deserve instead of what it truly is, this creates a wonky picture of what we believe about ourselves and accept from others. Even after dating my boyfriend for nearly 4 years, and being saved by God since I was 8 years old, I still struggle to believe someone could want and choose to love me. That despite my flaws and insecurities, I am worthy of love.
The root of our problem with love is not finding the “right love” but recognizing the fullness of God's love that He has already given us.
1 John 4:18-19 of the New International Version states that we can only love, “because He first loved us” and that “perfect love casts out all fear.” But if I fear falling in love because of rejection, that refutes the truth that His perfect love is enough to cover my flaws. Human love is fallen and not perfect, but it rests on the solid foundation of Christ and His Agape love that we will never entirely be able to comprehend.
The love of God is unlike anything we could ever imagine, but if we keep our hearts on lockdown, He won’t intrude access.
It is Okay
It is okay and healthy to “guard” your heart from the lies Satan throws at you, but it is not okay to live in lockdown, never allowing the King of your heart entry because you are terrified. Allowing God the full-access pass to your heart is scary. It feels raw and uncomfortable like a ripped-off band-aid. But when we let God in, He loves the depths of our hearts in ways we never could. And through prayer, intimate studies of Scripture, and growth in your personal relationship with Him, He will begin to show you how to lower your guard. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Only after we accept the truth of God’s love can we begin to understand what we deserve in our earthly relationships. True love is the love that God desires for us to experience. And believe it or not, God does not want you to go through heartbreak, even though you do. He does not want you to feel what it felt like to die for people in love, only to have them hate you.
He does not want you to accept the love you think you deserve; He wants you to live like you’re already fully loved, treasured, and accepted because you are.
A beautiful quote I once read in The Perks of Being A Wallflower states, “You accept the love you think you deserve” but even more true is the fact that you are the love you think you deserve.
Love is not simply a feeling or emotion, though butterflies are nice every once and a while. Pure and intimate Christian love is a lifestyle that is selfless and giving.
Love says, “even though I am single, I will love my friends who are in relationships."
Love says, "whether I am empty or full, Christ and His love is enough” (Philippians 4:12, New International Version).
Love screams, “you are worth it, even if it feels like you aren’t.”
For our relationship with Christ and the free love that He gives to us does not change with the shifting of our emotions, circumstances, and easily toyed hearts, but remains constant, faithful, and passionate, always enduring the fire. God’s love is unconditional and the furthest thing from guarded. A man hanging naked on a tree surely did not possess a restrained heart, so why would I?
Love is for everyone, even those who have broken hearts or forgiven seven times seventy-seven times over and over again. Love is reckless, pure, holy, God-honoring, and prosperous. Love is created by God and is He Himself who never once chose to guard His heart so high that He couldn’t submit to the requests of the Father.
Because the God I serve and love is one who humbly lowered His guard so that I and all of my messy love could ruin the perfection of His.
Today, let us protect our hearts in purity but no longer restrain them from what Christ is trying to teach us in these moments. Open the gates, let down the walls, and allow the One who formed your heart to cherish it well. Sometimes, the best lessons in life come from broken walls, and not the ones we as man build up trying to protect ourselves.
“Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Marjan Apostolovic
Amber Ginter is a young adult writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic worship arts, and volunteer roles. She is enrolled in the YWW Author Conservatory to become a full-time author and is a featured writer for Crosswalk,