Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
“Don’t follow your heart- LEAD it. Your heart follows your investment. Whatever you pour your time, and energy into will draw your heart.” I can’t remember where I found this quote, but it’s been hanging on my mirror for about five months now. I see it every morning while I’m putting my face on in the mirror. Today I read it just like I do every other morning but for some reason, it really stuck with me throughout the entire day. I’ve been thinking about it and what it really means to me during this particular season of my life. A few months ago, it might have meant something else but right now, what does it mean? A few months ago, I was applying it to a relationship. In fact, the rest of the quote says, “When you stop investing in a relationship and start pouring yourself into other things, your heart follows you there.” But today, this quote means something else. Today, and not just today, but during this entire season of my life, I’m applying it to the goals that I’ve set for myself. What do I want to achieve? Where do I see myself in six months? In one year? What are the things that I’ve never believed I’d be able to do? What are things that I’ve always wanted to do but been too scared to try? These things are all desires of my heart. I want to be a teacher. At some point in my life (sooner than later, I hope), I want to be a wife and a mother. I want to go back to Africa. I want to visit a country I’ve never been to. I want to teach overseas. I want to learn to love myself and see myself as beautiful. In order to do or become these things, I have to guard my heart and lead my heart in the direction that I want it to go.
By no means is this meant to sound like a pity party, but I will just say that after several years of hearing that I was not good enough on my own and that I’d fall flat on my face if I ever tried to leave and be a successful individual without this person, I began to believe it. This person had me totally convinced that without him, I was nothing. Without him, I had nothing to offer. Without him, no one would want me. I’d never graduate the teaching program if I left him. I believed him. When I left on October 22, 2011, I didn’t think I’d really stay gone. I didn’t have faith in myself and thought that if I did stay gone, I’d never amount to anything. I remember when the first week passed, then the first month. My aunt became sick in that first month and I remember visiting her in the hospital and telling her that it had been seven weeks since I had left. Then it had been ten weeks. Then it had been four months….and every time I’d report to her how long I’d been gone she would perk right up and the smile on her face let me know how proud of me she was. The day I chose to leave and start a new life for myself, I called her, crying and basically at the end of my rope and she made me promise her that I would leave and that I would never go back. Had it not been for her, I can honestly say that I probably would’ve gone back in that first month. It was so hard to start over and especially with the mindset that I’d never amount to anything without that person in my life. Had it not been for her support and the support of my family, I don’t know where I’d be. In the time since I’ve been gone, I’ve had to do a lot of reevaluating of my heart. I’ve had to work on changing my mindset. I’ve had to work on forgiving my past as well as myself. I’ve had to work on learning how to lead my heart and not relying on someone else to tell me how and where and when I should exist basically. I’m learning what it means to truly lay all my fears down at the foot of the cross and trust that I am not who that person made me believe I was. In fact, I made the Dean’s List both semesters of my first year in the teaching program at Missouri State without any help from him. I had the highest grade in one of the hardest classes of my second semester. I did this on my own. It’s little accomplishments like these that are beginning to push me further down this road of healing and I’m beginning to remember what it’s like to LEAD my heart. I can and I will do the things that I’ve desired in the deepest parts of my heart for so long. When I began to believe the lies this person told me, I started investing my time and energy in to things that were not me. I forgot what it was like to lead and I lost sight of what I really wanted, and most importantly, what I deserve out of life.
Our words often reflect the condition of our heart. Even after I’d been gone for several months, I found myself questioning whether or not I was a lovable person. Was I worthy of being loved by someone else? Could someone else love me? Would they laugh at my dreams? Would they believe in me? It’s been a long, hard road the past month and half or so, but I’ve had to adjust my thinking from what will someone else think and will someone else believe in me to believing in myself and TRUSTING that I can become and do whatever I set my mind to. I have to guard my heart because that is where my desires lie within me. This is not to say that I build walls and never allow myself to trust another person with my heart, but I will guard it with my life so that when the time comes for me to let another person in to my heart and my life, it is healthy and whole and has been protected and in a condition to love wholeheartedly. Life comes from your heart. Our desires are birthed in our heart. I want to be the best teacher I can be. I want to be a wife and a mother and love my husband and my babies with a heart that is whole. And in order to be these things, I have to lead my heart in the right direction and invest my time and my energy into the right things right now. I can’t be these things if I don’t take care of my heart now. It’s not an easy thing to do some days. Practicing patience is not always easy. Practicing self control is even harder. I’ve come so far, though, and seeing the progress that I’ve made pushes me to be even better. I never thought that almost one WHOLE year later I’d still be gone. And not just gone, but actually making something of myself without him. I never thought I’d be able to give up soda. It’s been 35 days since I had any! I never thought I’d be able to look at myself in a mirror and not hate what I saw. I never thought I’d be learning to love myself, but I am. I can imagine my aunt smiling down from heaven and being so happy and so proud of me. She believed in me even when I didn’t.
I say this all the time, but I really am a work in progress. My heart is delicate. My heart is becoming whole. Love is built on patience and learning to love myself is taking a lot of patience, from myself and from others as well. The healing process hurts sometimes but in the end, I know it will be so worth it.