I did not write last week’s post with the intention of writing a second part, but over the last few days I have found there are several thoughts connected to A Warrior’s Heart that I want to explore with more depth.
Our Greatest Asset
Having ‘the heart of a lion’ is a trait attributed to athletes who fight through adversity. They are successful because they refuse to give up. They do not accept the barriers or challenges presented to them, except to overcome them.
It is no different in life. The heart has capacity to carry us through the most difficult moments. It is the source of joy in our successes. We love with our hearts. For this reason, the heart is the warrior’s greatest asset.
In every important moment, the heart is most required.
The more we are willing to engage with our hearts, the stronger we become. A warrior with a strong heart, fully engaged is a dangerous thing. And that is why our hearts are often among the first places we come under attack.
Under Attack & The Enemy Within
One needs to look no further than a news website or social media today to find a barrage of bad news or stories curated to evoke a reaction. Seeds of fear, anger, and division are sown everywhere.
At one time, I assume the purpose of the media was to provide information or data on current events. To help viewers stay informed on the issues that matter to them in their communities. Today we live in the 24/7 news cycle and are bombarded with news from all over the world, highlighting tragedy, injustice, and despair and are told how we should feel about it.
The human heart was not designed to bear the load of the entire planet’s bad news. I read an article from Word on Fire last year that discusses the ways in which we get sucked into the news and the impact it has on us.
I am not suggesting the solution is to be ignorant of current events. What I am suggesting is that I need to do a better job of protecting myself from an industry wired to make me anxious and angry.
When I allow the news and social media to steal my peace, my heart can become distracted from what matters most. It is like having an unwanted guest wreaking havoc in your living room – I might be able to get rid of him eventually, but there is an opportunity cost to doing so and a lot of clean up afterwards.
The battle for our hearts is real and when we are taken out, the results are not good. Today we live in a divided culture, full of anger and even hatred towards ‘the other side’. It wants to place us all in a category based on any number of attributes. The temptation is to disregard, write-off, or cancel anyone who is not in the correct category. The battle lines are drawn accordingly.
This is a lazy way to look at the world. While I can find plenty of people to blame for the ills of society, I know that the only person I can change is myself. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.”
With this view of the heart, the struggle turns from fighting with others to fighting back to regain my own heart.
A friend of mine had a classmate at business school who was a retired Navy SEAL. As part of their training, SEALs learn something called situational awareness. My friend told me about how his classmate, walking around campus or in the city, would be constantly aware of his surroundings and assessing for threats and risks. If he was walking with friends, they would often ask him what he was seeing and how he would react. He would always have a plan on how to get his friends to safety before neutralizing the threat.
When my friend relayed this story to me, he told me that his classmate said he could not ‘turn it off’. The training was so engrained in him that it became part of his everyday existence. And while his friends may have seen it as a neat party trick, I am sure there were moments when this skill felt like a burden.
On a journey of faith, we cannot ignore the threats to our hearts. Encountering God in a personal way means there is no going back. While there is great joy in relationship with God and an increased desire to grow closer to Him, this desire is opposed. There are forces that want to stop us from becoming who we are created to be.
If you don’t believe me, just think of some instances when you had plans to do something that you knew was good for you or for someone you loved. Something that would bring you life and joy. Do you not find that those are the times when unexpected mishaps come up? A conflict arises, seemingly out of nowhere to derail plans – coincidence? Scripture tells us otherwise:
“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
As we grow closer to God, we need to become aware of the forces that would prevent us from becoming the vision of what He intended for each of us. Being constantly aware of our surroundings and the threats it brings against us might feel like a burden, but it is the only way to stay rooted in the present and aligned to that vision.
In the battle for the heart, there is no Switzerland. We must engage in the fight to win it back or risk losing it.
Tactics in the Fight for Wholeheartedness
The struggle for the heart requires a singular focus on where I am going and who I am becoming.
For me both questions point to relationship with God. This relationship is the North Star in my life. It guides the choices I make and the way in which I act. Yet, despite a desire to follow the path that leads me closer, I am in regular need of realignment. I am engaged in battle and will be for the rest of my life. The battle to course correct back to the way home.
Seeking the right path is to find those things that make my heart come alive. My heart was designed with a purpose in mind. When my heart experiences true joy in the journey, I know I am on the right track.
Engaged and aligned with its purpose, the heart is a warrior’s greatest possession. It can overcome deficiencies and carry us through the hardest of times. It is the source of love and joy in our lives.
We need our hearts back. The heart matters most.
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