How to Guard Your Heart in Romantic Relationships

Hi Friends, Jemeia here with another post for the Jesus is Bae blog series! People often tell you to “guard your heart” in romantic relationships, but what does that even mean and how do you do it? A relationship with Jesus is the only one in which you don’t have to guard your heart because His love knows no boundaries.

But, why do we struggle to see Jesus as our first love? Why is His love not enough for us? In part 1 of this series, I will discuss the biblical meaning of “guarding your heart” and how to do it. In part 2, I will discuss why we don’t have to guard our hearts with Jesus, and why that is often not enough for us if we don’t desire Him.

A while back, I started the Jesus is Bae blog series because I wanted to stop treating my season of singleness as if it were limbo. I was tired of feeling discontent or feeling like I was lacking a good thing just because I was not in a relationship. So, I figured….what if Jesus were Bae?

In the process of developing the Jesus is Bae New Year Challenge with Hanha, I came across a sermon, called Loving God, which is based on Matthew 22:34-40. The speaker said something so profound and I have pondered on it for MONTHS. He said this:

 “The first way you’re to love me is with all of your heart,” with all of your emotion, with all of your affection, unreservedly….You don’t have to guard your heart when it comes to God like you might have to in a human relationship, wondering how this person is going to treat me at the end of this thing. You don’t have to guard your heart with God.”

Saint’s in Christ, do you know that this took me ALL THE WAY OUT? Because:

  1. I felt like deep in my heart, Jesus was not enough for me. I desired a human being to love.
  2. Matthew 22:34-40 has remained my prayer for so long, but it is also a scripture I have struggled to understand because I am a practical person. I don’t do well with abstract ideas and that verse seemed extremely abstract to me. How do I love God with my emotions and heart?

The idea of me loving God, with butterfly-filled emotions as I would a human being, was so abstract to me. Now, let me say this, butterfly feelings are great, but they are fleeting and circumstantial.

That is why scripture also tells us that we love God by obeying his commandments (1 John 5:3; John 14:15). There is a quote I love that says, “God’s love language is obedience.” Lol, so that’s comforting…right? But just because I don’t FEEL like doing the right thing, does not give me an excuse to disobey God.

But Wait, How Do You Even Guard Your Heart?!

People will often tell you this in church by using Proverbs 4:23 as a citation, but it’s slightly taken out of context (gasp!)

Pause. I’m sorry, I just need to take a minute to acknowledge something:


Okay. I’m done. But seriously, if I could, I would insert the yelling emoji, because I personally hate when I am told to guard my heart, because there are little to no realistic instructions on how to actually do it, saints! Don’t get me wrong, there is some merit and good intention behind the saying, and boundaries do work… to some extent, but like I said, nobody actually knows how to control their emotions!

While researching for this post, I ran across two blog posts that truly affirmed my sentiments. So, I am just going to list a few points from each that I found helpful with some of my own two coins (similar to “two cents” lol).

In the article,“ What Does Guard Your Heart” Really Mean in Dating? the author makes the following points, which of course took me out.

  • They tell you to guard your heart, but they don’t tell you how, how long, or why.
  • There are only two verses that use the specific words “guard your heart.”Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts and Philippians 4:6-7 tell us how to guard our heart.
  • Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • When Solomon said “guard your heart” in Proverbs 4:23, it was far different from our understanding in Americanized dating. The heart is literally the wellspring of your entire life, and to guard your heart means to guard your whole person-your will, emotions, perspectives, and wisdom.

There’s also this quote from my guy, C.S. Lewis, who REBUKES THE GENERALIZED NOTION OF GUARDING YOUR HEART, referenced in the article Guard Your Heart, Don’t Suffocate it:

“Of all arguments against love, none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.” To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience.

When I respond to that appeal I seem, to myself, to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything, I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. . . .

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.

The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. (From The Four Loves, as found in The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis, 278-279.)”

*SNAPS FINGERS* Wow. Take that however you want. Apply it to whatever relationship you want. I’m not going to tell you what to think.

But from these thoughts, we learn that who you are and what you do, flows from your heart. So, the way you guard your heart is through praying about all things, as Philippians 4:6-7 says. AND HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART. And the peace OF GOD will guard your heart IN CHRIST JESUS.” 

Knock knock, can I come into your house? Listen, you need Jesus to guard your heart and your whole being. You can’t do it alone or merely through behavioral changes.

Boundaries are good and wise, but if they don’t flow from a deeper relationship with God, they will fail. It works in the same way as fighting addictions or any other type of sin-struggle. It’s not JUST about controlling your emotions/behavior to avoid falling for someone too quickly. It’s not just about abstaining from sex or not going too far physically.

[bctt tweet=”Boundaries are good and wise, but if they don’t flow from a deeper relationship with God, they will fail.” username=”heyhanha”]

Guarding your heart requires consistent prayer and aligning yourself with what God wants for you and your relationship. Being led by the Spirit to hold thoughts captive, requires the Spirit, not your strength.

Prayer highlights our weakness and God’s strength. Without reliance on God’s power and strength, your pursuit of guarding your heart in a romantic relationship runs the risk of becoming legalistic, impractical, and impossible!

Meet Hanha!

Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to help woman overcome fear and self-doubt so that they can confidently believe who God has called them to be. She holds a Masters in Divinity with a concentration in pastoral counseling and is currently pursuing her PhD in Christian leadership. Hanha has published two books, Jesus is Bae and The Confessions Project and she is passionate about teaching, equipping, and discipling the body of Christ. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she loves spending time with loved ones or exploring new coffee shops. 

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