In this life, we know we are to guard our hearts. Encounters with toxic people, the offended, the abusive, bullies and more. These reveal the necessity. They are in our workplaces and classrooms, even in our families and amongst the Body of Christ.
I specifically want to address guarding our hearts online, on Facebook and social media. Much of this comes from personal experience (including mistakes) as well as wisdom received from godly mentors and friends. Some can be applied offline as well.
To start: How do we guard our hearts? We guard our hearts in various ways. We do so by not letting others’ remarks and behaviors get to us. We take our fears, hurts and anxieties to Jesus and allow Him to wash us with His peace.
Furthermore, we guard our hearts by having boundaries and not allowing toxic people access. We guard our hearts like we do our living spaces. We do our part to keep out anything toxic. We don’t let potentially combustible items near the fire of Jesus’ love in our hearts.
Our hearts include our souls and spirits. Our entire being is affected by the atmosphere around us, which includes physical, emotional, and spiritual elements: Our emotions, others’ emotions, what we and others think and speak, our attitudes and moods, what we believe (even if we act differently from those beliefs), spiritual beings of God or from the enemy.
We must consider who we allow into our space, and to what depth and closeness. We need proper boundaries, which we ourselves must enforce because others will not do so for us.
We need to ask:
- Do they have our best interests at heart?
- Do they seek to hear God’s voice ahead of their own ideas and opinions, or are they hasty to respond?
- How far out does the boundary need to be?
- How much of ourselves should we reveal to certain people–even in a prayer request? Should we keep it general, go into detail, or perhaps not share it with that person at all?
To know what our boundaries should be, we can also look at our history with that person: things they have said, how they respond to us, if there is evidence of toxicity in them or coming at us from them. We should ask the Lord to reveal anything we aren’t seeing for some reason.
This may be easier to sort out in our daily lives as we see the good or bad fruit people produce over a period of time. On Facebook and the Internet, it’s a bit more complex. Even prayer requests can cause others to make wrong assumptions, particularly those who do not truly know our heart or see through the redemptive nature of Christ.
I encourage the following:
- Be thoughtful of who you add to your Friends List.
- Those you know as trustworthy offline, you can trust online. The reverse is also true.
- Those who gossip or do things that disturb you in real life, don’t add as friends online or at least put on the Restricted List, which allows them to see only what you share publicly. Note! That means you must be mindful of what is public or not when you post and on your profile.
- If you’ve never met them, either do not friend them, or if your Facebook is not as personal, put them on the Restricted List.
- If your prayer network is mostly online, create a separate Friends list group for specific, trusted friends only. When you go to post a prayer request, either message them or post only for that list of friends to see your post.
- If someone violates your trust, proves poisonous, steals, gossips, etc., either add them to the Restricted List, unfriend them, or in some cases, block them. If you are unsure, it never hurts to be safe rather than sorry–add them to the Restricted List.
- Bonus: You don’t have to answer every message, comment, phone call, etc. right away. You don’t have to be available instantly to just anyone (save immediate family perhaps) every moment of your waking life.
One more thing: Stop being concerned about hurting someone’s feelings or offending them by protecting your heart and atmosphere. You can be loving and still have strict boundaries with someone. However, you cannot effectively be Christlike to anyone in love and truth if your own space is trampled with toxins and their leftovers.
Remember: Your heart space and atmosphere is yours. Only God gets full access to that sacred space. Boundaries are allowed. Not every person in your life should be granted the same boundaries as another.
I pray this post helped you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment or message me. All in all, remember the wisdom Father God has given us, expressing the importance of guarding our hearts:
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)