Guarding your heart at Christmas

Christmas gifts by Kelvin Kay. Creative Commons.

By Valerie Zelada —

Ah, Christmas. The radio is playing Christmas music. Christmas lights are going up on homes and lawns. Stores are promoting all their Christmas list must-haves. My phone is endlessly dinging with notifications of a sale here or a hot opportunity there. My Pinterest Christmas boards are full of tasty treats to make with the kids, crafts to make and send to family and friends, movies to watch during this particular season. But in the back of my mind I’m wondering, “How do I fit it all in?”

Holidays are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but it takes a toll, doesn’t it? My wallet is already a lot thinner, my energy reservoir is drained, and my schedule has been filled to the brim. We’re just now slipping into the Christmas season and I’m already exhausted. I can’t help but ask myself, does it have to be this way? Is this how it is supposed to be?

Not too long ago I read “Boundaries,” a how-to book on keeping the good and letting go of the not-so-good, how to maintain sanity by saying “Yes” to what needs to stay and “No” to what should go.

“Boundaries help us to distinguish our property so that we can take care of it,” writes author Henry Cloud. “They help us to ‘guard our heart with all diligence.’ We need to keep things that will nurture us inside our fences and keep things that will harm us outside.” The phrase Cloud uses here, “guard our heart with all diligence” comes from Proverbs 4:23 which says, “Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.”

What are all the things you watch over and guard? I would guess that in ten seconds you can list at least five things guarded by you because of their vital importance to your life. Was your own heart on that list? For most of us taking care of our hearts may not even be a thought. What does it even mean to guard our hearts? And how do we do it?

The verses that immediately follow this command to take such good care of our hearts give some clear instructions. “Do away with any talk that twists and distorts the truth; have nothing to do with any verbal trickery. Keep your head up, your eyes straight ahead, and your focus fixed on what is in front of you. Take care you don’t stray from the straight path, the way of truth, and you will safely reach the end of your road. Do not veer off course to the right or the left; step away from evil and leave it behind” (The Voice). Basically, let the good in and the bad out.

More specially, letting the good in might mean getting to know God through His word, through talking with Him more often. It also might mean spending more time on things that matter and are permanent rather than filling up the schedule just because. It could mean involving yourself in something that benefits other people. In reality, nurturing your heart could mean a million different things. Letting the good in means nurturing your heart and feeding it well.

This Christmas season let’s guard our hearts, nurturing it as we seek God, love our families, and celebrate Jesus, the reason for this beautiful season.

Valerie Zelada is a dedicated staff member of Good News Magazine, a wife and mother, and a worship and ministry leader at their local Spanish-speaking church.

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