Our hearts can close off to others without us even realizing. Some folks are oblivious to this skill of knowing when they are in danger of closing off, as its been the way they have “survived” life. Others are so in their heads, they are just stuck there, not realizing their own hearts betray them. I love how Paul spoke to the Corinthians:
“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children, open wide your hearts also.” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV
The greatest strategy to destroy community, lies within our own hearts! It is the capacity to “shut your heart” to others. When my heart is closed it is cold and withdrawn. When my heart is open my heart is warm and affectionate, drawing towards others and not pulling away. In studying this feature in community life, I have noticed that our gatherings are affected by this extraordinary and yet simple revelation.
Hearts open, means we are more likely to have an open spiritual experience together of Heaven. “Closed hearts” is a difficult spiritual situation; decreasing the presence of God.
We are all learning to recognize these unique relationship enemies and go after them. Here’s a hit list of enemies to watch out for:
*a fear of being vulnerable or known
*unforgiveness and in particular holding onto offences
*pride in not wanting to share your life or heart
*anxiety issues and isolation issues
*fear of rejection or shameful feelings
*avoidance of the heart altogether, resulting in a shut heart
*accusation from the Spiritual realm (although sometimes we can’t blame the devil for this as some people love accusing others)
*not feeling safe to stay open although this can be an excuse for some
Declare war today on your enemies of connection.
As you do, you will begin to see your relationships within community grow and flourish. Write up a prayer to read when you feel your heart pulling away and shutting down. Have a personal strategy to re-join the community connection daily in some way. Its so worth it!
God wants to teach us this epic skill of being open hearted ones, so we are aware of our own heart condition, whether we are open or shut or somewhere in between!