Have you ever known a person you’d describe as hard-hearted? You know, someone who is closed, non-communicative, devoid of compassion, unfeeling, stern. Behind the stiff exterior are probably many factors related to how and why the person reached this point, but you’d likely never be able to crack through the layers of protective shell to discover them.
One of the hallmarks of this type of person is an unyielding nature that prevents connecting on any level other than surface. To ensure you don’t become this person, consider the following:
The ability to forgive those who hurt us is key to avoiding the development of a hard heart. In failing to forgive, you tie yourself to the person, the event, the words, and the damage. While it may feel you are punishing the person by not forgiving, you are, instead, punishing yourself. All the anger, frustration, and hurt boil inside you like a bubbling cauldron, and brew the type of negativism and resentment that spills over into your personality and your life. If you want to avoid becoming hard-hearted, learn to forgive.
The ability to forgive those who hurt us is key to avoiding the development of a hard heart.
The ability to acknowledge your own failures goes hand-in-hand with practicing forgiveness. Part of forgiving is linked to a willingness to recognize that you, also, are guilty of hurting others at times, whether intentionally or through oversight. Additionally, recognizing flaws, like pride, arrogance, and jealousy, in yourself keeps you cognizant of humanness and fallibility. Acknowledging faults doesn’t mean engaging in self-deprecation, rather it involves remaining aware that we all mess up at times.
The ability to acknowledge your own failures goes hand-in-hand with practicing forgiveness.
People who are callous are usually those who see nothing for which to be grateful. The inability or unwillingness to see and give thanks for blessings contributes to hard-heartedness. No matter how deeply wounded you are or how challenging current circumstances, you can always find something for which to be thankful.
Receptive to Growth
Maintaining the status quo is a lot easier than stretching yourself to try something new. At times, growth involves risks and that’s where fear, uncertainty, and hesitancy crop up. But in order to engage in forward motion, you have to be willing to try things that make you a little uncomfortable or challenge your sense of control. Learning, changing, and growing require a receptive attitude. Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of where you are for the uncertainty of the unknown.
Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of where you are for the uncertainty of the unknown.
A substance that is malleable is one that is able to be hammered or pressed out of its current shape without breaking or cracking. Everyone encounters pressures that extend them beyond what they think they can bear, yet those who are able to flex are the ones who have the capacity to adapt without crumbling or becoming hard and unyielding.
All of us have things in our lives that need to be crushed and remolded. We also encounter people or circumstances that hammer us and require adaptive change. Remaining malleable helps us endure pressure and also stay receptive to God’s refining work in our lives. This doesn’t mean changing your core beliefs to fit today’s shifting morals, it means being pliable in difficult situations, and avoiding becoming hardened by hurts and circumstances.
How malleable are you?
“But the jar [the potter] was making did not turn out as he had hoped so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.” Jeremiah 18:4 NLT