Have you ever received a box labeled “Fragile”? Has that box ever been dented, torn or otherwise maimed in a manner contrary to said label?
When I moved out to Nashville at the end of last year, I thought I was being clever, shipping a few boxes. Imagine my surprise, when they arrived a couple weeks later, dropped on my front porch and one (marked fragile, in case you hadn’t guessed) with a gaping hole in the side and two out of four corners mashed in so it no longer resembled a box.
My reaction: What the Junk!
Of course, I could not imagine how a package, clearly labeled and generously paid for could arrive at its destination in such a state. I mean, who do those delivery guys think they are? Didn’t they realize the precious contents that had been entrusted to them? I know they didn’t come up to me and say “Lyssah, can we please have your box and deliver it to its final destination?”
Common understanding would say it goes without saying.
Well, what about the human heart? It’s fragile. It’s been marked “Handle with Care” (Proverbs 4:23). Now, before your eyes start glazing over as you have flash backs to youth group, I’ll cut to the hook.
I’m not talking about you guarding your heart.
I’m not talking about you protecting the hearts of those around you by not flirting, leading on, etc.
I AM talking about how we treat the hearts that have been given to us that we never asked for.
In my 27 years of life, I have, well, done my fair share of complaining. My mom (feel free to chime in if you read it, Mom), can attest to that.
“No one likes me…” “Guys don’t think I’m pretty” “They just see me as ‘one of the guys’”…If I had had a dollar for every time I said that before the age of 23…you know how the saying goes.
The ironic thing: It wasn’t that guys didn’t like me. I wasn’t as androgynous to my guy friends as I thought. The sad, simple fact: I just didn’t like them back. I am loath to admit that I didn’t handle those situations as gracefully as I should/could have.
Back in the day, when word of a potential suitor that I was less than thrilled with surfaced, I began to employ the diversionary tactics…dropping the “you’re like a brother” card with great liberality, mentioning that there was “this guy” I liked and asking their advise, and sundry other moves that, looking back, I see may have spared me the discomfort of declaration, but didn’t do much for caring for their hearts.
It hit me recently, as I realized how blessed I was to experience some of the friendships I’ve had. What an honor it was to be singled out by these Godly guys, even if I didn’t reciprocate. It was like they said “Here, this is my heart, can you take care of it for me” and it was stamped Fragile, handle with care. But because I didn’t ask for it, I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. I set it down, pushed it back at them or said “Look, over there” and while they were distracted, threw it in the closet. Looking back, I don’t doubt that there was some damage in transit. I can only hope it was mostly on the surface and that the package they hand to their wives someday is in great shape (no thanks to my careless selfishness). Needless to say, much repenting ensued.
I was tempted to keep these meditations to myself, but I realized, as believers, we are called to care for the hearts of those we come in contact with. Not just in a romantic sense, but for everyone we encounter. That person who thinks we are a lot closer than I do. The nameless face I see across the sanctuary. The homeless guy selling the Contributor on the street corner.
What am I doing to steward what Christ paid such a high price to redeem?
So, vague though it may be, I want to apologize to those who I reacted to, rather than acted on behalf of. I also want to challenge us to understand that when someone says “Here is my heart”, in whatever facet it may be, to respond out of gratefulness and humility and seek to serve rather than preserve momentary comfort.
What are some ways we can approach unreciprocated attention with grace? How would you take want someone to handle your heart? Let’s discuss.