Friday, 5 June 2009

The Hazard and Joy of Living with an Open Heart

Intimacy with the necessary totally honest transparency and vulnerability can be an extremely frightening prospect. Life usually deals out pain and disappointments and we become very adept in survival by building protective walls around us. The problem is the very wall that keeps pain and hurt out, will also keep out love that we so desperately need. Thankfully, there is a different way to guard our hearts and allow full access to the love exchange that liberates us to grow to different levels of joy … dare we take that route?

To travel on the Journey of Intimacy and move up to higher levels, we invariably come across having to deal with issues that caused our hearts to shut down.

It’s not so much sin and immorality that shuts down one’s heart, but rather other people, politics, hurtful behaviour, betrayal, etc. People can be worse than demons, if you let them.

However, for a lot of folk they may not even have been shut down, but actually never properly developed their full passion of emotions. Maybe it was not part of their family culture to allow one’s full passion of emotions to mature.

A person with fully developed and mature emotions knows when it is appropriate to express them and when it is not. An indicator of whether or not a person either has a shut down heart or not fully developed emotions (only we ourselves really knows the difference), can be noticed in situations when it is ok, appropriate, and indeed desirable to express the fullness of one’s passion of emotions, yet there is a block, one can’t … just can’t. Pretend, yes, make an outward spectacle, yes. But a genuine expression, no.

Let us not confuse being extrovert or introvert as an indicator of whether a person’s heart is open and their emotions fully developed and mature. Being extrovert or introvert are personality preferences. An introvert can have far more mature emotions than an extrovert that might be able to cry at the drop of a hat.

I shall never forget this young lady we had at church. She was bubbly and outgoing, she was a giver and ever ready to encourage people, full of seeming aliveness in her emotions, until she was found having committed suicide by hanging. No one suspected even in the slightest that this extrovert bubbly girl was dying inside, had her heart shut down suffocating behind her own walls of ‘safety’ against pain.

Let me illustrate this with the following stickman drawings:

Here, this person has surrounded themselves with layers upon layers of defensive protection against hurt. The walls eventually become so thick that indeed they exist in a maximum security cell where next to no pain can penetrate. Whilst they are suffocating in the protective cell, no love can come in either, nor is it possible for them to truly let love out … too dangerous. (The RED arrows represent love).

The alternative situation is the one where the person is not relying on self-built walls of protection around their heart, but consciously open their heart and focus on the 'Firewall' of the Blood of Jesus around them.

That 'Firewall' (also known as the Shield of Faith) drenched in the Blood of Jesus will effectively annihilate the darts of the enemy. Whatever does get through gets zapped by His Love emanating from us. Meanwhile, the Firewall of Blood easily lets through any love from and to the person.

It surely seems hazardous to live with an open heart, as to allow ones emotions to fully mature means total honesty, vulnerability, loving deeper. When you really love well, you stand the risk of getting hurt more. But we need to learn to love beyond fear.

To live with an open heart does mean setting appropriate boundaries communicated with honesty, love and respect for the other person/s. The Bible tells us to guard our heart, which is different to shutting down or walling our heart.

Unfortunately very few of us had the privilege of growing up with parents mentoring the development and maturity of emotions. They could not teach what they did not know. This means we all are in the same school of learning, growing and maturing.

What it takes is first of all awareness, ‘renewing of the mind’, knowledge, willingness to learn with the right attitude, not giving up when things get tough, and time, yes, lots of time.

Well, fellow travellers on the Journey Of Intimacy, the first step is awareness, and that means digging deeper on our quest to get to know ourselves first.

In His love,

© Copyright Angelika Regina Heimann – inStrengths Ministries - The Journey of Intimacy, 2008. All Rights Reserved