By Garry Barber
Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
2014 (like all years past and future) will begin with a swell of promises and resolutions. Perhaps you have thought, “This year I will not be disappointed. This year I will set my sights low and ensure that my resolution vows are like the side of a barn … targets I can’t miss.” Let me make a few suggestions from the resolutions I am considering for 2014:
1. I vow to get less sleep.
2. I vow to eat more sweets.
3. I vow to stop torturing myself with “You have got to get more exercise.”
4. I vow to spend frivolously.
5. I vow to grow a beard that rivals the cast of Duck Dynasty. I could easily keep all these ridiculous vows. But a vow that is easily kept is rarely worth making at all.
We typically restrict the vows we make to outward and/ or physical considerations. I challenge you to join me in a vow of the heart this year. Ask yourself, “How would my life be different in 2014 if I determined to guard my heart for an entire year?” Now, by “guard your heart” I do not mean to close off your feelings and expressions of love and vulnerability to others. Instead, I mean the act of being more cautious about what you allow into the core of your life. Author Oswald Chambers once described the heart as “the central citadel of a man’s personality.” In other words, it is the core of you and me. So, it could be said that my heart is me. As a responsible adult, no one has the responsibility for me besides me. It is my job to protect, provide for, preserve and control myself. No other person can do it.
Allow me to make some suggestions as you start on your list of resolutions of the heart:
• I hereby resolve to guard my heart from society’s standard of justice. One of the most powerful lies to permeate our thinking today is that life must always be fair. Living by this philosophy leaves us frustrated with the world and makes contentment impossible.
• I hereby resolve to guard my heart from society’s standard of righteousness (only wrong if I say it is wrong). Granted, one’s background and religious persuasions deeply affect one’s definition of right and wrong. However, today’s “it is only wrong for me if I decide it is wrong for me” philosophy implodes upon itself. Such thinking leads only to confusion, unprocessed guilt and an ever deepening sense of shame with no standard by which to repair them.
• I hereby resolve to guard my heart from society’s pervasive arrogance. Too often we teach our children and allow ourselves to believe that “I” is the center of the universe. This is a happy place to live until reality reveals the truth that we are each valuable human beings but none of us is more important than another.
• I hereby resolve to guard my heart against society’s rejection of holiness. It is a dangerous world in which nothing is sacred.
The Book of Proverbs advises, Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life (4:23). This is similar to the less poetic but equally true adage “garbage in – garbage out.” I challenge you to resolve with me to guard our hearts from the garbage of life so that what flows out of us in this year will be that which brings life, peace and goodness.
Barber can be contacted at the Joy House Counseling Center. 678-452-2037.