My Heart, My Greatest Treasure
September 6, 2009, was a day that marked a turning point in my life, although I had no way of knowing just how impacting the decision I made that Sunday afternoon would be when it happened. Let me give you some context. At the time, I was a young mother of two little boys (nine months and nineteen months old, respectively) and I was feeling completely overwhelmed. I was physically tired from back-to-back pregnancies and the demands of motherhood. Our family was under intense financial strain due to some investments that we’d lost significant money on when the market crashed in 2008. Creditors were calling constantly and we had no means to pay all the bills. I had quit my job to take care of our babies full time and living solely on my husband’s income was extremely challenging. We were doing our best to trust God but the strain was wearing us thin; I was stressed and I could feel it. Our marriage was under pressure. I loved Jesus with my whole heart but I was struggling and I knew there had to be another way, a better way. I just didn’t know what it was.
Around this time, I was listening to some messages by a preacher who emphasized the importance of living in our God-given identity. He taught about belief systems and how our inner world created our outer world and that the key to seeing permanent life change began by dealing with our heart beliefs. He also shared a number of practical tools that one could use to begin replacing lies with truth.
After listening to one particular message dealing with internal limitations, I made a decision. I knew I had a role to play in how my life played out and that the days of believing “If it’s God’s will, it will just happen” were well and truly gone. I realized that Jesus was inviting me to partner with Him and this required action, not passivity. Waiting for things to change on their own wasn’t going to yield the results I wanted. I was being invited to speak, to be heard, and to influence where I ended up in life and it began with writing the truth of what He said about me on my heart.
That day, I took out my journal, sat on my bed, and made a promise to myself. I wrote this commitment down so I would have it as a reference and because, for me, putting something in writing somehow felt more ‘official’. My commitment was this: I would invest in my heart EVERY DAY for the next 365 days. If it was true that I would “prosper as my soul prospers” (3 John 2), then doing things to increase my soul’s “prosperity” was a worthwhile investment. The date was September 6, 2009. I didn’t know exactly how it would all unfold, but I understood that investing in my heart in a season where there were so many demands on me physically and emotionally was very important, especially since I knew I was in full blown survival mode.
What this commitment looked like practically was that I continued to listen to teachings and read books that were bringing me life in that season, but I also became really intentional about some other things like regular journaling, paying attention to how my heart was feeling, listening to affirmations about my identity, and learning Biblical meditation (about which there are many references in Scripture) where I began to write the truth of God’s word on my heart. It was like laying (or re-laying) some of the foundations upon which my life had been built. As I replaced lies with truth on a deep level, slowly but surely I began to see change.
First, I became more aware of my emotions. I have always considered myself to be a positive, upbeat person, but as I tuned into my heart, I realized I was experiencing negative emotions as well as the positive ones, I just hadn’t been good at acknowledging them up until that point. I discovered these emotions weren’t bad, I simply needed to acknowledge that I was a person with a spectrum of feelings, not just one or two. As I acknowledged what was going on internally, I began to find that I could express how I was feeling more accurately and I started placing greater value on what those varying emotions were trying to tell me. I also began seeing God in a different light as lies were stripped away. My ability to hear the Holy Spirit and be led by His voice grew because I discovered the still small voice speaking inside was coming from His voice in my heart. My sense of self worth and value grew as I put action behind my commitment to grow in identity and truth. I began to recognize where I needed more healthy boundaries in my relationships and started to put those into place. After a few months, I even discovered I’d lost all the baby weight I’d gained from two pregnancies and I hadn’t even been trying to do that. It was simply a side effect of becoming more emotionally healthy.
I could feel momentum growing around me as I invested in my internal world. My fear about our financial situation lessened, even though at one point we were being threatened with bankruptcy from several different fronts. However, not only did we not go bankrupt, but month in and month out, provision came. We never lacked and even had several significant debts cancelled.
As time progressed and I saw the fruit in my life increasing from this decision, I purposed that I wasn’t just going to invest in my heart for a year, I was going to make it a lifestyle. I had begun to see such significant differences that I wasn’t about to risk losing the momentum that had been built. Now, eight and a half years later, although the practical outworking of investing in my heart has looked different in different seasons, I can confidently say that this has been one of the most impacting decisions of my life. Not only has my entire inner world changed, but my outer world has followed suit. What’s even better is that I have found a community of other like-minded women who have a similar value for their hearts and as we have connected and done life together over the past few years, we are able to share in each other’s breakthrough.
If you’ve never taken the time to invest in your own heart, today is a perfect day to begin. Take a moment right now to place your hand on your heart and turn your attention inward. Breathe a silent prayer of thankfulness for how far you’ve come. Whether or not you’re thriving or struggling in this season, your best days are still ahead of you. Why not make a commitment today to invest in your inner world? You don’t have to start with a year like I did, but how about ten days? Thirty days? I dare you to sit down, open up to a blank page in your journal, and make a written promise to yourself to take time every day (even five minutes) to embark on the journey of learning to steward your own heart. As you do this, you will find that Jesus will meet you in the most beautiful ways as He helps you unlock the treasure within and I promise you will not be disappointed.