Confessions of a Hard Heart

Fresh starts, new resolutions, high hopes, and sweeping goals. These sentiments come around every 365 days, and usually after a month of gluttonous frivolity and merry making.

What I’m starting to realize about myself is that these ambitions fall flat quick and are often forgotten by the end of January. This has left me feeling like a failure because I can’t seem to muster up enough strength or willpower to stick to anything.

As a woman, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by my shortcomings, which can lead to a cocoon of self-pity. I can list a thousand things that disgust me about myself, which strangely drains me of joy, gratitude, hope, and obedience.  I am learning that it’s really difficult to invite authentic relationship in when I am focused on myself. I avoid certain people and situations because I’m zeroed in on the flaws I can’t dodge in the mirror. Being self-conscious is the same as being other-blind.

I’ve missed opportunities to nurture this past year because I chose to defend my time, my space, and my energy. In hindsight, I realize the lost moments of soft words, tender touches, and loving care. The absorption of my time and resources was a choice toward my own agenda.

In our own power, it’s impossible to maintain a soft heart.

In my closest relationship, with my husband, I’ve come to realize that partnering has to flow from a soft heart. And a soft heart is not something that can be manufactured! In our own strength, it’s easy to get crusty and hardened. Just recently, I gave my heart permission to harden toward my husband simply because he couldn’t read my mind about something I desired. As my heart hardened, I found that I justified my disrespect, sour attitude, silent treatment, and judgement.

Ultimately, I was angry with God. I had no intention of partnering with someone so annoying. Evil crept into my heart and I fed it lunch! But I realized that life partnering is an act of submission to the Lord and an act of humility and obedience to His way. It’s one of the hardest things to do. This is why being fueled by the Holy Spirit is crucial. In our own power, it’s impossible to maintain a soft heart.

So, this year, I am not making grandiose plans to be super skinny, avoid sugar, run a marathon, read the Bible four times, adopt six children, go to Africa, keep a perfect house, clean all my closets– you get the idea.  No, this year I hope to live with a softer heart toward those the Lord gives to me. I believe that He must do the work inside of me as I seek Him. I am thankful that Jesus continues to invite me into a deeper relationship, despite my nasty flaws. I am thankful that Jesus nurtures my weary soul, even when it’s pitch dark because of fear and self-protection. I am thankful that Jesus allows me to partner with Him in Kingdom work, even though I flub it up on a regular basis. I am thankful that His grace is sufficient (plenty, ample, adequate, enough, necessary, satisfactory, abundant) to supply all of my needs. After all, His power works best in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

Which relationships are you approaching with an already hard heart? How does this keep you from being inviting, nurturing, or partnering with those around you?

– Kristi Carden, Pelham Campus