How does one protect their heart? There are many teachings on how to care for the health of your physical heart, but what about the heart that we refer to when we speak of our soul, what defines us as the person we are deep within? How do we protect that part of who we are? How do we protect our heart?
In Exodus, God told the people to give, of their free will, precious things to build Him a sanctuary. Then He gave the people specific instructions about how to build it; one set of instructions included a veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies, where the Ark of the Covenant would reside. Only a priest who had gone through a ritual of cleansing for a week could enter the holy of holies, and he could only do so once a year. God was telling them (and us) that this place was to be very protected.
It came to me that perhaps God was saying that our heart is like the holy of holies. It is at the center of our being, and in it we keep what is most precious to us – the love we have for others, our values, our own unwritten law of what we will and won’t do. And if we’ve believe in Him and accept Him, God’s Spirit also lives there. But do we protect our heart as carefully as God commanded the Israelites to protect the holy of holies?
I recently saw a video about the career path taken by Fred Rogers. You may remember him in the children’s show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. Mr. Rogers promoted kindness to all, taking the time to really listen to someone, to look at our world and develop a sense of wonder, and to sincerely like each other and ourselves. He frequently sang a song he composed, and in it we hear: “It’s you I like, the way you are right now, the way down deep inside you, not the things that hide you, not your toys – they’re just beside you … I hope that you remember, even when you’re feeling blue, that it’s you I like, you yourself, it’s you, it’s you I like.”
Kindness protects our hearts – being a person who will listen to others and value them for the person they are deep inside. Everyone needs kindness. So many are suffering these days – those who have become more reclusive because of the pandemic, those whose marriages are struggling, those who find it increasingly hard to make ends meet financially, children who attend school online and haven’t been able to see friends regularly, teachers who have to face new challenges as they try to reach their students, those who feel they are being treated unfairly by society, medical caregivers who are faced with challenges they’ve never seen before, and those who have lost confidence or even hope in the future. We need kindness too, We need to know that people are seeing us, really listening to us, and like the person we are deep within. We need to do that for ourselves as well. It’s our way of protecting our heart.
You may have heard that God loves you. But did you know that He likes you as well, the person way down deep inside you, the one you hide. He likes you, and promises to help you along your own life path. That may not seem real to you, especially as you look deep within yourself, but God already knows what’s there and He still likes you. He loved you enough to pay the price for all those mistakes, and if you will let Him, He will guide you along the path to heaven, where He will present you blameless. All you need to do is believe, and let Him work it all out.
Just as God told the Israelites to protect and keep sacred the holy of holies in the tabernacle, He wants our hearts protected as well. Run to Jesus. After all, it’s you He likes, you yourself, it’s you. Let Him protect your heart.