Thursday, March 2, 2017

Is the Window to Your Heart Open or Closed?

Windows. What normally comes to mind when you hear that word? Perhaps you think of opening them, and letting in an outpour of sweet sunshine and fresh air that brightens a room, or maybe you think of shutting them when the rain pours down and skies are stormy. I believe people are just like windows. By displaying or covering your feelings, you are essentially closing or opening the window to your thoughts.  You can open up the shutters and let people know how you feel inside or you can hide behind it and keep others from knowing what’s really going on. But there are certain times for sharing your feelings, and there are times when it’s best kept inside. Sometimes it’s hard to control our feelings, and we don’t know whether or not to keep the window open or closed. There is One who actually wants to hear your troubles and your joy, and that is your Heavenly Father. You can always keep the window to your heart open to Him. But how do our emotions within reflect outward actions? When should we show or hide our feelings? And should we always keep our windows open to God?

Let’s start with the first question: How do our emotions within reflect our outward actions? What is seen on the outside is usually a reflection of the inside, for both windows and people. Take a typical Bully. He feels insecure, jealous, and unloved, yet he doesn’t want people to know so he boards up his window. To make himself feel better, he picks on other people so that he can feel secure and satisfied. On the outside, he sure looks tough, but hidden inside, he’s weak and broken. Now, say he encounters the True Light of the World. At first, it’s hard for the Bully to open up his window because it’s been closed for so long. Likewise, this new Light hurts at first because the Bully has been hidden in darkness. Once he has been exposed to the Light long enough, the Truth is made known to him. Little by little, the Bully cleans his window of the iniquities he had by repenting. He confesses his sins, and Jesus gives him a clean window. Now he easily opens up instead of hiding. In the same way, someone else you know might be having a hard time. If he snaps at you, it’s not necessarily because you did something, it could be because inside, that person is suffering. Keep in mind that, since we cannot see inside other people, their outward actions are based on their inward emotions.

Since God gave us feelings, we should always show them, right? Well…not exactly. There are moments when the windows should be open and when they should close. It’s kind of like a game of hide and seek; you show your feelings sometimes, you hide them sometimes. But first, when should we hide them? Jeremiah 17:9 says,
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
While I want to stay honest as much as I can, some emotions, like sinful anger, should be hidden to protect others. A few years ago, I was fighting with my sister, and both our windows were wide open; she was angrily screaming at me, and I was angrily yelling at her. Finally, I couldn’t take it, so I spat out, “I hate you!” Well, that did it. Naturally, she was NOT happy. Proverbs says, “A soft answer turns away wrath,” something that I didn’t do. My dad says, “When you and your sister are arguing, you are both putting more wood onto the fire. You each have the option to put water on that fire instead.” While I did a great job of letting my sister know how I felt, I did it without a soft answer and instead with sinful anger. Be gentle and respectful when you expose your emotions. You might hurt someone if you’re not considerate.

In other cases, sharing your feelings is good! If you are happy, share the joy. It might just be the little touch somebody needs.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
Some feelings need to finally come out. Maybe you feel like no one will understand or listen or that they’ll just make fun. When you store up those hurt feelings all by yourself, you’re actually poisoning your happiness. And I know this, sadly, from experience. At one point of my life, I had a lot going on inside, and I was just feeling hurt, depressed and crushed. A couple people had hurt me with their words, and I felt like no one would listen and I had no one to talk to. I shed a lot of secret tears, but made sure I always covered up my windows so no one would know. And guess what? It worked. No one knew for many months. But I still wasn’t happy. In fact, I cried almost every night just thinking about all those hurtful words. After a while, I realized I was holding too much inside, so little by little, I let each person know how I'd really felt. It wasn’t easy at all. But I knew all my hidden hurting had to come out. Now, I felt like I could finally breathe. Those weighing emotions had burdened me, but now that I got it all off my chest, I felt like finally, fresh air flowed through my once-suffocated secret place behind my window. This is an example of when not to hide your emotions. If I had just gathered enough courage to tell those people how I really felt instead of constantly burying them, I wouldn’t have had so much emotional exhaustion.

During that time, my mom reminded me a vital truth: I can always tell God what’s on my heart. He never meant for us to hold our burdens alone. He welcomes us to cast our burdens on Him, as Psalm 55:22 says:
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
I realized that, though I had given my burdens to the Lord by prayer, I was carrying them mostly alone because I hadn’t told anyone else, unlike what Galatians 6:2 declares,
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
In every situation, turn to your Heavenly Father and tell Him how you feel because He’ll love you no matter how you feel. His love is not based on how YOU feel about Him, but based on HIS feelings for you, which are always loving if you are His child. Psalm 46:1 says,
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
In truth, God wants you to always keep the window to your heart open to Him. Yes, He already knows your feelings, but God still desires for us to tell Him ourselves. Don’t hide from God. He’s there to guide you through each and every situation. He yearns to hear your troubles and your joy, your hurt and your struggles. He is the Wonderful Counselor and He will help you through. When in doubt on whether to spill your feelings or not, you can also search the Bible for council, as Psalm 119:14 declares:
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.
The Bible contains God's very words of wisdom. They can surely help you through your situation, no matter how difficult it may seem. To sum this up, when you need council, talk to God or search His Word.

People are so much like windows. Revealing your emotions is like opening the window to your heart. Likewise, you close that window by concealing your emotions. Because communication is so important for humans, make sure you are clear on what you are saying and respectful to the other person’s feelings. Yes, it's fun to joke around or be sarcastic - I do it a lot - but be mindful of the secondary effects; people are more sensitive that you think. I've learned this the hard way and have accidentally hurt someone's feelings by either not specifying on the person I was talking about or not considering that what I was saying was offensive to him, even though to me, it seemed innocent enough. They responded negatively toward me because actions, kind or rude, are heavily influenced by feelings. Though you might be having a hard time deciding if you should share your feelings or not, ultimately, God always welcomes you sharing all your emotions with Him. There is no need to fear; He already knows your heart anyways. So what now? I hope you will stay open with your Heavenly Father, first and foremost. He loves you, cares for you, and will give you wisdom and guidance when to open and close the window to your heart.
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