My last post was about bitterness and how important it is to guard our heart. Today, I want to give you a real life example about how I first learned to guard my heart. If you’d rather call it boundaries, that’s fine, too, but scripture is clear: It’s our duty to put ourselves in a position where we’re not vulnerable to bitterness.
It’s been said we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry in public, but if someone else can benefit from my exposé, I have to say it’s worth it. So, here goes.
When I was married to my first husband, it wasn’t long before I realized he wasn’t house trained. Any of you know what I mean? I don’t think my man had ever seen a laundry basket in his life. He left his socks and underwear everywhere. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, they left a pile of evidence everywhere he’d been.
I knew there was no way I was going to get him to pick it up. Believe me I tried and the issue was making me angry. Sometimes it’s the little things that bother us the most. They have a way of wearing us down. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart for out of it flow the issues of life.” For me, when I first learned how to put a guard on my heart, I had to start with these smaller issues. I knew I’d never be able to deal with significant issues until I could learn how to overlook small offenses.
So here was my dilemna: My expectations were causing me bitterness. How could I communicate a boundary that would put a guard on my heart without requiring him to change?
Here’s what happened. One day, I told him nicely. I told him respectfully. “I can’t make you pick up your underwear, but I can change my response to this situation. So here’s what I’m going to do.” (This is the first step of guarding your heart—communicating a change, expressing it verbally, and making your needs known.) I told him, “If you don’t pick up your underwear, I’m still going to pick it up because I don’t like seeing it on the floor, but from now on, whatever you leave on the floor, I’m putting in this special basket, not in the laundry basket. I’ll be happy to do your laundry, as long as you put it in the laundry basket, but I won’t wash whatever ends up in the special basket.”
Guess what? He didn’t change his habits one bit. Still left trails of evidence everywhere. But, I was no longer angry! There was a huge difference in my peace. Why? Because I had put a guard on my heart. I finally realized I was the only one I could change and I was getting set free. In the meantime, my ex-husband wore underwear he hadn’t seen in years. And eventually…
He did a load of laundry.
Unmet expectations are a set up for bitterness. The key to putting a guard on our heart involves releasing others from our expectations to change. We are the only ones we can change!
Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your examples about how you’ve learned how to set boundaries and put a guard on your heart.