The Loudmouth Protestant

August 19, 2010

Learning to Let My Guard Down: An Intro to Southern Living

Filed under: life — nickisym @ 8:17 pm
Tags: , ,

If you have kept up with this blog in the last few months you know that I have moved from the Big Apple to partake in the consumption of “millions of Peaches.” In other words, I’ve gone from living in New York to living in Georgia while I pursue my higher theological education at Emory University. I’ve only been down here in Atlanta for a week and school hasn’t even started yet but I’m already learning a few lessons, the first of which is, “Let Your Guard Down.”

Having lived in New York almost eight years, I have learned to have my guard up for many reasons. First I had to have it up while I rode public transportation because I didn’t know who was going to rob me. Then I had to have it up for the apartment landlords because I didn’t know if they were going to rob me. Then I had to have it up for the people in New York because I didn’t know if they were going to rob me. Essentially in New York I learned to have my guard up at all times because I never knew when I would get got, bamboozled, boondoggled, swindled, hoodwinked, jooksied, ganked, or hosed. But now that I am back in the south, I am not sure how advantageous it is to walk around with an invisible bulletproof vest and uzi at all times. I realized that this afternoon…

As I walked up the stairs to my second floor apartment and put the key in my door I heard a voice on the other side say, “It’s open!” I thought to myself, “That must be coming from the apartment across from me. Maybe the guy is calling out for his wife to close the frigerator door because she left it open.” Again I jiggled the key in the door and the voice says, “It’s open.” I turn the nob and it is indeed open. I walked in my apartment to find the maintenance man on the kitchen floor fixing the garbage disposal. I am shocked at the sight of him though I know that the garbage disposal in my apartment is broken. I ask him, “Don’t tenants get a warning before you come into their apartment? It’s a little jarring for me to walk in my apartment to see you here.” He says, “I am here at your request.” I say, “Ok…well thank you.” I retired to my room trying to think of when I made the request and I realized that when I turned in the “Move In Condition Form” I said that the garbage disposal was broken along with the draw in my bathroom so that must have been my “request.” I can be quite the legalistic person so, in my mind, I felt that a request would be an actual paper that I filled out requesting for the work to be done. But apparently that is not the way they do things. I sat in my room working while the man was in my kitchen fixing the garbage disposal and in about five minutes he was done. I said thank you but then I asked about the broken bathroom drawer which he told me he already fixed and he slammed the door in front of me.

It was after that moment that I knew this wasn’t about him as much as it was about me and needing to learn to let down my guard because everyone isn’t out to get me. I thought about the things that I want out of this life including the opportunity to love and how I’m sure that my hardened ways have prohibited me from getting what I want because I’m always giving someone the side eye when I should be giving myself the side eye. I talked to my roommate who has yet to move into the apartment and I let her know that I might have made an enemy with our maintenance man to which she told me in her very pastoral way–she is a second-year MDiv student–that I should be careful about how I respond to people, I should understand that this is the South and things are different and that most men here are ready, willing, and able to help a woman without wanting anything from them. I agreed with her wise words and I told her that I planned on apologizing to the maintenance man because I really think that I could have handled the situation better.

No sooner than I hung up the phone and looked out my window, I saw the maintenance man’s truck rounding the corner. I jumped up and took the work order papers that he left in my apartment–it was someone else’s work order, not mine (look at God providing opportunities for reconciliation!)–and quickly ran out of my apartment. By time I got to the street he had just stepped out of his truck and I walked toward him saying, “Two things, the first of which is I want to apologize to you for my behavior earlier. I am new here, new in the neighborhood and new to this city and I don’t know how not to be on guard. But I know you were just doing your job and I am truly sorry if my words and actions offended you.” I also handed him the work order papers. He accepted my apology and actually said that he didn’t take offense because he thought maybe I was having a bad day. He was actually standing rather close to me which I don’t take very well from people I barely know, but I knew it was a moment to apply the wisdom I had received. So I stood there, looked into his eyes which were the tired eyes of an honest, hard-working man who has seen it all and been through it all and I listened to him accept my apology, I apologized to him again and he extended his arms not for a handshake, but for a hug. He said, “We hug down south.” Normally I would have side-eyed a comment like this, but I decided to live in the moment and let our reconciliation be sealed with a hug. He said he understood all too well my Northern disposition because he has dealt with many people who have moved to the area from up North. He told me that I’d get the hang of things and to let him know if there is anything I need and then we went our separate ways.

I was humbled and I promised myself in that moment that I would learn how to let my guard down. To not see every person as a potential robber baron of my tangible or intangible goods. I even thought about some other people who I probably need to make amends with because I’ve made my time of knowing them about having my guard up more than making it easy for them to know me. At almost 30 it seems high time to learn how to work the synergy of guarding my heart and letting my guard down simultaneously to see if I might come closer to the things I desire.

And so, one week into my stay here in Atlanta and I think I have learned a precious lesson that could possibly open me up to a lot of great experiences. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of letting my guard down.

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August 28, 2008

Guarding Your Heart

Filed under: God,love,relationships — nickisym @ 1:58 pm
Tags: ,

A friend and I were having a discussion about why I believe it’s so important to guard my heart. It is her belief that relationships involve taking a risk, but my belief is that my heart is much too delicate a thing to throw onto the gauntlet every time someone comes around. My theory has worked for quite a while although the process of heart guarding is very difficult when you want people to get to know the best parts of you.

Nevertheless, I keep the gates around my corollary locked despite what I really want because I know my heart is terribly delicate. In contemplating this notion of guarding the heart, I thought about the fact that there is a scripture that says “the heart is deceitful above all things.” I’ve been having a hard time grappling with that, but at the same time, I am so fully aware of the fact that the heart is deceitful. I believe our hearts break before any other part of our beings after the demise of a relationship. Your heart can be broken for years and though your mind has moved on, the heart is connected to the spirit and there will always be something there to remind you.

I can remember the times when things didn’t turn out well with some prospective relationships and though my mind was on the “Forget Him” program, my heart was slouched down in my stomach with a box of Kleenex. I swear it has a mind of its own, when I’d rather it follow my inclination to dispose of sappy feelings from the onslaught.

So what’s a girl to do with matters of the heart? I am reminded of Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” When I think of this scripture, I think of the fact that our hearts were not meant to run free like the wind. Nor were we meant to box it up and give it away. They have to be protected and ensconced until the appointed time when God gives us the greenlight to open it up. But, you say, “Why do I have to wait to give someone my heart?”

You have to wait because not every single person you encounter will be able to be a good steward over your heart. It doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, but it does mean that there are people who God has appointed on this earth to honor and protect your heart. Likewise there are people, who have no idea what it means to honor and protect someone’s heart.

Our hearts hide the issues of our life, which are extremely important to protect. I think about the issues of my own life and the way with which I share those issues with close friends and family. Before sharing, I always have to stop and think about what this person will do once they find out a little bit more about what makes me tick–be it good or bad. Will they guard that knowledge with their heart, keeping my issues to themselves and to their conversation with God? Or will they use it to judge and criticize me further on down the line. It’s a massive undertaking to decide you trust someone–besides your creator–with your innermost secrets.

Just a tip: This is a moment of transparency, but whenever I have a crush–and anyone who knows me knows that these are always fleeting because of what I’m about to share–I immediately take that emotional energy to God and ask Him what he would have me to do with it. I’ve seen Him use my interest in another to do extraordinary work and I’ve seen Him smack the taste out of my mouth. Either way, it’s always been the best use of my mindshare and emotional energy to ask Him what His will is, and He never fails to let me know.

The heart is just so sacred and so precious and I think more of us must learn how to protect it so that we don’t get caught up. We’d be better off if we were proactive about protecting our heart from harm in the beginning of any friendship or relationships rather than blindly hoping and being too trusting.

My heart goes out to people I know who didn’t guard their hearts and are now trying to figure out how to get that special piece of themselves back from someone who didn’t take care of it. My heart goes out to those who are in the position to give their heart to someone, I pray that you allow God to direct your path toward that decision and from there, if it is His will, you will not be scared to give fully to that other person. My heart goes out to those who are dying to give their hearts to someone…Be of good courage and know that your time is coming soon.

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