I knew my words and actions were hurting people and yet, I felt my heart getting harder and colder and more uncaring of others feelings. I didn't want that; I didn't want my heart to become as hard as stone but I didn't know what to do. I felt helpless.
I know when it first started - when I chose not to care about something I needed to care about. I didn't want my heart to hurt and I thought that it wouldn't hurt if I didn't care so I refused to care. I refused to allow myself to cry and I refused to even entertain the thought that I could possibly care. At that moment, something happened in my heart and I knew it. I should have gotten on my knees and asked forgiveness. I should have prayed for the tenderness of my heart to be restored, and for strength to endure but I didn't. That was one of the worst choices I ever made.
As time passed, I know God was working in my heart and no, I wasn't perfect but then things began to happen in rapid succession. I had allowed little things to affect me, and allowed little bits of bitterness to rise up in my heart against wrongs. It began to come out of me in hurtful words and actions at the slightest indication of hurt or a crossing of my will. It was like a wall I was trying to put up to protect my heart and to protect my independence but hurting others as well as myself in the process. It was a wall of uncaring, of hardness and coldness that seemed to strengthen in each passing day. I was shocked at the words coming out of my mouth; I was shocked at my heartlessness and I was shocked at how cold and stony my heart had become and was becoming. It frightened me. I didn't want this! I wanted to be kind and caring. I wanted my heart to be soft and tender. I wanted to serve and bring joy and love to others but what I wanted was not what I was living out in my life. "Why Lord, Why?" I cried. I had tried so hard to change - to be what I wanted to be but I couldn't on my own. My heart was heavy... I shared what I could of the longings of my heart with the Lord.
One morning I read this quote in my morning devotions:
"The soil of the heart, like that of a garden, will produce weeds and brambles unless the seeds of precious flowers are planted there and receive care and cultivation." ~ Ellen White.
Once the soil of my heart is prepared, what are the seeds of 'precious flowers' to be planted? Put simply - Christ-likeness. Just as I would water and fertilize the seeds in a real garden, I must water and fertilize the seeds/plants of Christ-likeness in my character with the water and bread of life. I can do that by communion with God through prayer and His word and by beholding Christ, for by beholding we become changed.
As the garden needs cultivation and care, the garden of my heart needs cultivation as well. It needs watching lest a little weed of sin be permitted to grow and spread and take over the whole heart. I must watch for the little compromise to conviction and principle, the little unkind word in joking and jesting, the little grudge, the little seed of bitterness, the seed of selfishness etc. lest these 'little' seeds grow and take over and choke the good seeds of Christ-likeness, for it's not always or only the big dramatic compromises, actions, or sins that ruin. It is not always or only the big dramatic trials, heartaches in life that change the heart and that can make it cold and stony, but also the very little ones and the constant dwelling on them which makes them appear like huge mountains when in reality they are but a golf ball in comparison to Mt. Everest.
The trials and the heartaches of life don't have to make our hearts hard, cold and stony but can make us more tender, and more understanding of others if we allow our Saviour to work in us. He will give comfort, healing and grace. He will be our courage when we are fearful. He will be our strength when we are weak. He will be our all in all to us - our complete.
“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me...” Psalms 138:8
What a wonderful God and Saviour we serve!