A while ago, there was a relationship in my life that was causing such anxiety in my inner self, such turmoil, such pain that my entire life was being affected. Every day was wrought with anxiety. There was a hovering cloud of stress over my heart because of the influence of one person in my life. It was awful. I didn’t know what to do. Even after working extensively toward healing and restoration in the relationship, the pain and struggle remained. So I prayed, asking God what to do with the relationship. His answer was simple: “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”* Not knowing exactly what a “wellspring” was, I researched it so I could understand exactly what I was to do.
Picture, if you will, a beautiful and blue natural water source (a “wellspring”). Maybe a hidden fountainhead with streams flowing from it. Fresh water flowing freely among lush, vibrant greenery. Living creatures depending on the various streams as they spread out among the jungle.
Now imagine that water source as your heart. Imagine your heart as that hidden water source. From your heart flow streams of life. How you live flows from the water source that is your heart. How you love. How you engage your husband. How you interact with your kids. How you relate with friends and family and strangers. All of these streams flow from your heart. Your husband, kids, friends, creativity, and contributions to the world depend on the streams of life that flow from you. Your heart is the wellspring, the water source.
Now go back and picture again a real water source, a real wellspring. Picture someone dropping just a few drops of poison into the water source. What happens to all the streams? What happens to all the living things that depend on that water source for life? Poisoned. Sick at best.
When Scripture talks about guarding our heart above all else, it is because God knows what will happen if we don’t guard our heart. The NIV says that everything we do flows from our heart. The ESV describes the heart as the place from which flow the springs of life. Our whole self is impacted by the life source…the heart. And we are instructed to guard the heart. God knows that just like poison to a real water source poisons all the streams that flow from it (and all the lives that depend on it), destructive influences to our hearts impact all the streams of our life (and all the lives that depend on it). All our outputs. All our relationships. All our investments. All of these are impacted by the life source. By the state of our heart.
Our very life flows from our heart. So, when we allow influences into our heart, we are actually allowing those influences to affect our whole life.
Through this imagery, God was able to show me what to do next with this painful and stress-inducing relationship. It became clear that I had let this one person in too close to my heart, and by doing so was allowing destruction to flow into all areas of my life. Because I had been continually allowing this person’s painful influence into my heart, I was living in constant anxiety. That anxiety was flowing into all my relationships, costing so much in each stream of my life.
So, I chose to pull back. I chose to guard my heart. The streams of my life and the people who depended on those streams were worth more than pleasing this one influence that was costing my heart so much. As my heart became safe once again, the streams began flowing more clearly…the relationships that depended on my streams of life started to become healthier and move vibrant.
Our life source is so valuable. So much depends on our healthy life source and the streams that flow from it. Which is why God instructs us to guard our very hearts.
How well are you guarding your life source? How are the streams of your life being affected by the influences you’ve allowed into your heart?
* Proverbs 4:23