Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Guard Your Heart (06/08/12)
TITLE: The Hidden Heart
By Donna Howell
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Today, I found out a family in our church would be moving to another state. I can't really say that Debbie, the wife and mother and I, were friends, but as is sometimes the case in church, you become acquainted, you say hello and goodbye, you smile, you even sometimes hug, but do you really know what's in the heart of another person? It would be wonderful to think the smiles were genuine, indicating all is well, and life is good. How could I possibly know differently? I did know though. I chose to look the other way. I saw the pain that was sometimes there, telling myself, it isn't nice to pry, so I walked away.
I recognized the sadness of a mother who wanted her daughter to "fit in." I wanted to help, and I even talked to my own daughter about reaching out. She said; "she's a little different mom," so I let it go. Maybe I should have tried harder.
I sometimes wondered why her husband had such a far away, sad look of late. Again, I didn't ask. Did I even care? Even so, each time I said hello or put my hand out in greeting, she smiled, and took it, then we went our separate ways. When I heard where her family would be moving, I felt a ray of hope. It was a large city, but one I had a relative in. Maybe he could help them learn their new town, and tell them where the best schools and neighborhoods are. Maybe he could in some small way, make up for me.
Our church was having potluck after the service, so I made my way over to the table where they sat, alone. When I placed my hand gently on her back and began to speak, I thought it odd that she didn't look up. She just continued to eat her meal, and nod her head in acknowledgement at my words, as she pulled an address book from her purse and began writing my nephew's name. It was an awkward moment to say the least, so I continued by making small talk with her husband. When I asked why they chose to move, he said he had lost his job six months before. Oh my, it was even more awkward now. What could I say? I expressed sympathy for their plight, and we talked of the big changes in store for them as they left their hometown. I wished them well, and returned to my own table, as the words of this week's challenge came back to me. Guard you heart. Its what she had done, until today. She guarded it with a smile or a wink that betrayed her lonliness, her pain for her child, and the loss of her husband's job.
Today, her guard was down. She would try no more to make others feel comfortable. It was over now, and why should she? My heart is heavy as I write. Yes, as scripture tells us in Jeremiah 17:9, "the heart is deceitful, and almost impossible to understand." Why did she hide behind her smile? Why didn't I dig a little deeper? Try a little harder? I know when we speak of this scripture, we are encouraged to guard our own hearts from the wiles of the world and Satan himself. I just couldn't help but draw a parallel to my story today. "Guard your heart, above all else, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23.
The Bible NIV
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