He was one of the godliest guys I knew.
From similar ministry goals to the same taste in music, we had so much in common. He challenged me to follow Jesus and inspired me with his love for God.
It didn’t hurt that he was also very good-looking.
I’d had crushes before, usually admiring from a distance or stalking him on social media. But this time, he was the one reaching out to me. Pursuing me. Or so it seemed.
We lived in different states, so most of our communication was through email. Every time his name popped up on my phone screen, I couldn’t help the ear-to-ear grin spreading across my face or the way my heart rate picked up. Without giving my heart any permission, I was developing a serious, life-sized crush on this guy.
One afternoon, after a few months of correspondence, I sent a reply to his most recent email. As usual, I couldn’t wait to hear back from him.
A few days passed. Nothing.
Then a few weeks. Nothing. A month . . . two. Still nothing.
Fast forward to today, and I haven’t heard from him since. No “Sorry, I’ve been out of touch.” No tactful excuses or subtle reasons.
In the first few weeks, I vacillated between hopeful, to confused and hurt, to downright angry. After months of wrestling, my emotions swinging like a pendulum, I finally surrendered the situation to God. Peace descended, though my heart still stung with assumed rejection.
While the situation was difficult, I’ve learned and grown from it. Looking back, I wish I’d guarded my heart more. Yes, he shouldn’t have been leading me on, but I should have been wiser and more vigilant with my own heart.
As Christian girls, we often hear the words “guard your heart.” It’s a purity catch-phrase, but I rarely understood what it meant. Three times in the Song of Solomon, we’re charged not to “stir up or awaken love.”
My only question?
1. Guard Your Mind
As always, Jane Austen hits the nail on the head. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy says, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
Amen, Mr. Darcy.
You see a cute guy. You find out he’s a Christian. You finagle a way to talk to him and you chat for a few minutes. He’s sweet. You’re excited. You walk away from your conversation with butterflies in your stomach. Before you know it, you’re trying out how your first name sounds with his last name.
Please tell me I’m not the only one.
We daydream and basically obsess over the guy we’re currently crushing on. From imagining potential scenarios to conjuring up a handful of kids with his eyes and our smile, we let our minds run wild. After all, what’s the harm in it?
More than we realize.
Not only is it dishonoring to the man we’re fantasizing over and our future husband, it’s bordering on lust. Jesus tells us adultery begins in the heart, in the secret places of our minds. He says whoever looks at someone to lust over them, has already committed adultery in their heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28) While scribbling “Mr. and Mrs. (Blank)” in a journal may not be the definition of lust, unchecked daydreams and obsessions feed unhealthy thought patterns that can go downhill fast.
I’m by no means perfect at this. For years, I let my imagination run wild before I realized how destructive it was. Habits are hard to break, however, and I still find myself occasionally battling this mindset.
Keeping your thoughts pure is one way to honor the men in your life, as well as your future husband. Not only does it promote purity in your current relationships, it’s excellent training for marriage. Habits are hard to break, and if your habits are obsessively daydreaming about guys, that’s not going to stop the moment a ring is on your finger.
To clarify, there’s a difference between being tempted and giving into temptation. It’s not a sin to notice that a guy is good looking, but it can be a sin to feed those thoughts to the point of obsession and borderline lust. It’s not wrong to admire the personality or character of someone, but it is wrong to give your imagination permission to run wild.
Guarding your mind could be the hardest work you ever do. But it’s worth it. Memorize Scripture and quote it when you’re struggling. When you find yourself slipping up, use it as a springboard to pray for someone. Fill your mind with pure and good things and intentionally focus on them. The most important part of guarding your heart is guarding your mind.
2. Be Careful With Online Interaction
While email and Facebook can be helpful in long-distance relationships, without the relationship being previously defined, it can be hard and confusing.
Online interaction is one-dimensional. It only shows a small part of someone’s life, personality, and beliefs. You could think you’re falling in love with someone, but not know them at all. Online interaction feels real, but it’s actually not. It feeds an idealized picture face-to-face communication can’t.
Be careful and discerning with texting, messaging, emailing, and other forms of online communication. Don’t give your heart away online.
3. Have Boundaries in Place (and don’t be afraid to voice them)
Boundaries are vital in healthy, God-honoring relationships. Whether it’s a casual friendship or a romantic relationship, boundaries help keep the focus on God and purity instead of feelings.
These are things you set in place beforehand to guard against compromise later. They’re not legalism or a strict list of do’s and don’ts, but guidelines of protection. Having boundaries about physical contact, online interaction, time alone, and other fuzzy areas can help provide clarity. You never have to wonder, “How far is too far?” if you’ve already set the measurement. If someone crosses a boundary, it’s entirely appropriate to state it and request they abide by it.
I’d encourage you to set these in place with the guidance of your parents, a mentor, or other older person you trust. And then . . .
4. Have Accountability
This is the one thing I’m so glad I did. My mom and sister were aware of and active in my correspondence with that young man. They had the freedom to read every email I sent and everyone I received and often did, at my request. I’m so thankful for the accountability they offered. Not only did it help me keep my head on straight, but it also helped me in the confusing weeks after.
Whether it’s a parent, older sibling, or mentor, accountability is one of the most important ways to guard your heart. Nothing good comes of keeping a relationship a secret. Other people can help you see things clearly when you’re looking at the world through the rose-colored glasses of infatuation. They can help you keep a level head when you want to fall head-over-heels for a guy. They can offer advice, prayer, and wisdom that will not only prepare you for a relationship but most importantly, build a strong relationship with Jesus.
5. Let Jesus Guard Your Heart
After sharing the situation with a dear friend, she sent me a message which said, “Maybe your Father God put a blinder over this young man’s eyes, so he wouldn’t see the treasure that is you. What feels right now like rejection, might actually be God’s protection.”
I burst into tears.
While I hadn’t done a good job of guarding my heart, I realized Jesus was the only one who could truly guard it. Even when I was blinded and focused on my feelings, Jesus was faithfully watching over my heart and protecting me. It took Him removing this relationship for me to see it, though.
My sweet sister in Christ, I encourage and challenge you—let Jesus guard your heart. Yes, relationships are often confusing and heartrending, but throw yourself at His feet day after day. Commit your heart to Him—all your longings, dreams, heartaches, and emotions—and let Him bind up your heart with His cords of perfect love. Let Him soothe the sting of rejection, the ache of brokenness and loneliness, and shower you with His great and unspeakable love.
Give Him your future. Let Him take control. Seek Him daily, hourly, for grace and help to guard your heart and mind. But mostly, stay hidden within the shelter of His wings and lost in His love. Because it’s a love stronger, better, more pure, perfect, and unwavering than any other love on earth.
I’d love to hear from you!
-Have you ever experienced something like I shared? What happened and what did you learn from it?
-Which point is hardest for you? Why?
-What other ways can you practically guard your heart?
Bio: Sara Barratt is a 19-year-old writer, avid reader, chocolate lover, and lead editor for TheRebelution. Her first book releases Spring 2020 from Baker Books. Her passion is challenging teens to live sold-out and set-apart for Jesus. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and her website sarabarratt.com.