Taking Heart On Our Mission To Live Wholehearted Lives
On a recent, cold Alaska Saturday morning, I forced myself out of the comfort of my warm bed to join a group of young female warriors - women of a military community, mostly spouses of service members. Our facilitator was an art therapist. She gave those who gathered the profound luxury to consider the question "What opens your heart?" by using artwork.
We took the next few hours to individually and collectively create personal artwork through inspirational quotes posted around the room and lavishly supplied artistic accessories. All our creative energy was spent journaling and processing that one question.
I have since discovered this simple question allows me to be more thoughtful, selective and engaged with the people and world around me. So, I’m asking you that same question here: “What opens your heart?”
Do you find it easy to respond to that question? If so, maybe that is because you have a fresh memory of someone speaking your love language this past week. Someone in your life may have went the extra mile for you and spoke to your “Acts of Service” love language. Or maybe someone took extra time with you that touched your “Quality of Time” love language? Have you experienced the simple pleasure of someone giving you a hug today before you went out the door, impacting your “Physical Touch” love language?
If you had a difficult time answering this question it may be easier to consider, reversely, “What closes your heart?” It seems there is much life presents to us and, in some moments, even warns us to shut our hearts down. Sometimes, life situations seem to propose a closing of our hearts not only to ourselves, but also to others and of the utmost detrimental to our souls, a closing of our hearts to God!
Along our life’s path we may discover we carry the residue of hard and complicated choices and, quite often, how the choices of a previous generation can still impact a present generation. This spiritual residue is real and often appears to manifest tangibly within many of the outcomes of our lives. Those outcomes also seem to beg us to make a better choice while we still can for our own generation. For ourselves and our loved ones, the threat is high we might shut down as this unchecked spiritual residue can quickly accumulate around our hearts and minds.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, and trust also in me.” -John 14:1 (NLT)
I'm quite certain that is why Jesus Christ took heart to get away in the Presence of His Father. Jesus Christ modeled to the generation of His day that a working knowledge of the health of His Love was not dependent on those who He extended His Love. In any given moment He was not willing to let go of the truth because of a something someone said or did opposing that truth.
Taking Heart: Choosing Peace in Christ Over A Peace-of-Sorts
Sometimes, the fragility of life and where, or where we have not, spent it, and who, or who we have not, spent it with, can seem to perpetuate a spiritual residue that keeps us from a Holy God who provides the peace and comfort our hearts so desperately crave.
The world around us will continue to offer up its own version of strange and seemingly glorious venues, typically requiring more and different to hold our appetites in our quest for a human-derived peace-of-sorts. This might be a comfort of our choosing and not what our Heavenly Father has chosen for us.
Our world this side of eternity will not fail in its attempts to distract us from our true mission until Jesus comes. I believe this is exactly why Jesus said in John 16:33:
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Living a More Wholehearted Life
Our Heavenly Father is asking us to take heart in a hard and complicated world. He has demonstrated, through Jesus Christ, that we too can open our hearts as wholehearted warriors of this life. By following Christ’s example in getting away in the presence of our Heavenly Father, we too can be fully engaged in the world around us, while still maintaining the spiritual health of our hearts.
Sometimes, our quickest way to get there is by asking a friend to pray with us in the middle of our complicated lives. Often, we need a friend who will battle alongside us longer in a relationship of accountability and encouragement and who is unafraid to speak and pray the truth in love.
If you are having trouble breaking through life’s residue surrounding your own heart and mind in this season of your life, I encourage you to reach out to another Godly girlfriend over prayer so you can be confident your heart will remain wholeheartedly open as God intended for you in the season of life you are in.
By design, He has already provided a spiritual peace and comfort for us that our hearts both crave and can receive from Him. May we encourage each other in Christlike wholeness to live out our lives as His wholehearted warriors!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Northway is a U.S. Army Chaplain to some of America's finest sons and daughters and their loved ones. She grew up in a small-ish California town with a passion for those away who found themselves far from home for the first time. She has been married to her college sweetheart for nearly three decades, and they have one young adult son in Bible college who makes her laugh so hard it sometimes hurts to breathe. She has a Masters Degree in Marriage & Family Counseling Psychology in addition to being a seminary graduate. She is a warm-weather girl currently stationed in breathtakingly beautiful Alaska, hence her Instagram name, @chillybeachchap.