Years ago, I built a wall around my heart because I didn’t want to feel any pain. Depression and anxiety had altered my emotions and given me a warped view of relationships.
When I finally admitted that I was powerless and asked for God’s help, He drew me to His Word and showed me that there was hope.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
He provided doctors and medicine to bring my mind and body to a place of stability. And He provided His Word to lead me through the steps of recovery and healing.
Then He called me out.
He told me to share my life with others so they could find the same hope and peace that I had found.
II Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
But helping others is dangerous, because compassion requires vulnerability.
God knew this, so He gave me protection.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, … with the breastplate of righteousness in place
A breastplate protects the heart and vital organs.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
God called me to come out from behind the wall I’d built around my heart. In place of the wall, He gave me a bulletproof vest.
The thing is, a bulletproof vest doesn’t stop people from shooting me and it doesn’t stop the bullets from hurting me. But it keeps me alive so I can keep doing what I’m here to do.
God never said He’d protect me from all pain.
Jesus was hurt. Jesus wept. Compassion involves sorrow.
How does God expect me to open my heart up to people without fearing that they’ll just drag me back down into the insanity?
He gave me His righteousness.
A bulletproof vest slows a bullet down by spreading the force over multiple layers of material so that the impact hitting the body is no longer lethal.
The breastplate of righteousness dissipates the force of the attack by reminding me who I am in Christ.
II Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
I’m a new creation, so any attempts to bring up my past can be knocked down by His Word.
II Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. I have right standing with God. When He looks at me, He doesn’t see my sin; He sees Jesus.
I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
He offers forgiveness and cleansing every day so that when I sin and step out of right standing with Him, He offers me a way back.
How does all this help me to love others?
The breastplate of righteousness is a healthy boundary.
I can choose to love you and show you compassion without allowing you to mortally wound me. I have to get close enough that something you do could hurt me, but the armor – the healthy boundary – keeps that wound from going too deep.
When I know who I am in Christ, and I have my worth based on who He says I am, then I am less likely to allow people to decide my worth. Therefore, their rejection and disapproval can’t crush me.
Yes, it still hurts. But it’s a wound I can recover from and it can’t stop me from continuing to love them.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
People can’t hurt me if I don’t give them that power. And when I put on the breastplate of righteousness, I’m putting Jesus between my heart and other people and trusting Him to protect me.
Then, my arms are free to reach out and love them with His love.
How has God protected you when you opened your heart to love others?
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