Guard Your Heart

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”

Marcus Aurelius

I had a bit of a mishap this morning.

After my 6AM call with my men’s group and before my 7:30AM call with my Rotary club, I thought I had enough time to trim my beard, take a shower, and get dressed for the day.

I was right on all three accounts; however, things didn’t quite go as I expected.

I took the hair trimmers out of the linen closet in our bathroom. I removed the cover from the trimmers, and I proceeded to begin “trimming” my beard. To my surprise or perhaps horror, I realized I had failed to put the appropriate guard on the trimmers before I started my “manscaping.”

I called into the other room to alert my wife to my predicament.

I couldn’t just leave it as it was, and I couldn’t put the guard on now as the beard hair length had already been determined. What should I do?

I left the guard off of the trimmers, and I essentially shaved off my beard leaving a layer of stubble across my face. I’ve had the beard for a couple of years, so my face looks a bit different now. Perhaps, I even look a little younger without the beard.

My morning mishap with the beard trimmers left me with a lot to ponder.

In general, I am a fairly guarded person. I’m not great at spontaneity, and I typically think before I speak. Most people would label me conservative or at least rather serious. Sometimes I’m envious of people who let their guards down with more ease than I do. They can get their feelings out there for others to hear.

On the other hand, the Bible talks about the importance of guarding our hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Guard rails are there to protect us. They protect us from going of the right path, the right road, the right trail. They keep us out of danger.

When the author of Proverbs talks about guarding our hearts, he is telling us to protect our hearts above all else – to make sure we are keeping the bad out and allowing the good inside. He reminds us that what comes out of our heart is a direct result of what we permit into our hearts.

Paul seems to echo the writer of Proverbs:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

We must guard what goes into our hearts and minds.

I recently came across an excellent resource initially spoken by Earl Nightingale and now available as a short book. In The Strangest Secret, Nightingale says “We become what we think about.” It’s a call to be intentional in our goal setting, but it’s also a reminder to make sure we are thinking about good things.

As a result of Nightingale’s challenge, I began writing a goal on a new index card every day, and on the back of the card I write out Matthew 7:7-8:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

What guard rails have you but in your life? How are you dealing with the thoughts and ideas that come into your heart and mind?

These thoughts are the result of my morning mishap.

My beard will come back. I’ll be more diligent in making sure I am using the right guard for the trimmers. And I’ll be more intentional in guarding my heart and mind.