“Dare to keep your heart open to love.” 

I flipped my calendar to February, revealing this sentence, layered on an aesthetically pleasing graphic, and I couldn’t help but feel annoyed.

Yes, yes, of course I want an open heart. Yes, of course I think it takes courage, but those words, sitting there staring me in the face with a deluge of empty calendar days below it felt ominous.

Don’t you know how hard that is? Don’t you know how hard it is to truly live with an open heart in this world? Don’t you know that this world promotes success, getting ahead, and revealing a perfectly curated amount of messiness so as to remain relatable? But this calendar I bought (as a means of trying to develop some organization in order to be successful and get ahead) is now betraying me with this reminder to remain open, in order to love.

If you’re anything like me, an open heart is theoretical, a platitude that feels better on a calendar graphic than in actuality. Because why would we want to actually cultivate something that can seem so counterintuitive to all things the world boasts? So might as well keep it in the frame, on the wall, and keep my head down and keep climbing whatever proverbial ladder I think I need to climb. An open heart will make me vulnerable, and not in the cool, relatable Instagram way—it will mean real risk, failure, and messiness. The Bible has lots to say about our hearts, and I think it just might help us in our journey to take this risk. Let’s take a look.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:21

No wonder I’ve been having trouble locating my heart, with my head down. I’ve been so convinced that my treasure was to be found, and that I was doing a good job looking for it, attaining it, filling my days with endless emails, meetings, interspersed with shoveled meals and rushed moments with friends. Closed to the possibility that anything could come from an open heart. What a waste at best and a liability at worst—if I stop the hustle to open my heart, I risk it all don’t I? 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:7

That’s the courageous piece of openness. It’s trusting the peace of God beyond my understanding of self-protection, self-reliance, self-actualization. But in that trust comes a guard. An open heart is not a gaping wound. It becomes a vessel, coated in peace, that lifts my eyes off the ground to love. 

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” –Proverbs 4:23

I work as a freelance artist in New York City, and it can feel like the minute you take your eyes off your own feet on the pavement, you lose your foot in the door. In a world and an industry that is cut-throat and demands the promotion of self, I forget that it is the kindness of God that created me to have an open heart. Not because He wants to leave me vulnerable and unprotected in a scary world, but because He loves me and wants my hidden away heart so he can guard it to be the wellspring of life that it is.

If you’re anything like me, you want to leave the suggestion of openness on the wall and take matters into your own hands in order to succeed in this world. When I white knuckled life and told my heart to quietly remain closed so that I can please proceed as I see fit, I am putting a dam in front of that spring of life and the idea that God could actually love me enough to provide peace beyond my understanding.

Would you join me in taking that pretty graphic off the wall and trusting that it may actually be true?