‘I have a whole lot of room for expansion,’ I said as a parting shot at church one day, and the mentor I had only conversed with quipped back,’Yes, well, growth depends upon the environment you are planted in, does not it?’
He might have said like a throwaway remark, but these words had impact, and I could barely remember anything else being so reassuring throughout that season. In that single one-liner there was a strong validation to the fact that we can put in as much effort as we desire, but when we aren’t treated well, if we’re not loved, our output is compromised, often because we second-guess our results, because we just know the connection is tenuous and trust is not all it ought to be.
Excellent hearts need good support,
When they are in a fantastic environment.
But put a fantastic heart into a poisonous environment, where conflict is part and parcel of the culture, where direction don’t resolve it and even appear to enjoy it, and it is simply a matter of time before the fantastic heart becomes despondent.
Good hearts can’t survive in a toxic environment.
“Here’s the thing about people with great hearts.
“They give you excuses if you don’t explain yourself. They accept apologies you do not give. They see the finest in you once you do not need them. In the worst, they lift you up, even though it means putting their priorities aside. The word’active’ does not exist in their dictionary. They create time, even once you don’t.
You wonder why their presence isn’t vital to your well-being. It is because they don’t force you to work hard for the attention they provide you. They take the love they believe they have earned and you accept the love you feel you are entitled to. Do not take them for granted. Allow me to tell you something. Stress the day when a fantastic heart gives you up. Our skies do not become gray out of nowhere. Our sunshine doesn’t enable the darkness to take over for no reason. A heart doesn’t turn cold unless it has been treated with coldness for a little while.”
Within my 35-year working life I have been subjected to all types of different working cultures. Some were positively inspirational, where the companies invested significantly in quality leadership programs. The defining characteristic of the cultures was their approach to battle. There was no partiality, and in battle everyone was treated equally, because right and wrong have nothing to do with that retains or needs electricity, and both sides of a battle have their contribution.
I’ve seen it time and again, the fantastic heart flourish in a nurturing environment, just as much as the fantastic heart dying in a bad one. The first question any of us must ask when someone is misbehaving – well before we seem to punish them is, are they implanted in a nurturing environment? This isn’t about mollycoddling, it’s as much about the person feeling they are supported.
Then there is the topic of union, where battle is front-and-centre from the operations of this covenant:
It’s a fundamental of union,
Naturally, that each spouse feels
They have the help of the partner.
We can often take it for granted that there is an equilibrium in union, all things being equal. My experience is that there’s always some type of imbalance, where one takes more responsibility than another. They apologise faster and more often. They forgive without receiving a suitable apology. They do not see as much repentance as they repent. (And it is dreadful, yet not uncommon, when both partners see themselves as victims.)
When a union is pushed to the extreme, where one is accountable for the achievement of the union, in upholding the facade I mean, relational dynamics come to be poisonous. The marriage is now devitalised.
God asks us to work on us, such that we would submit to Him that He would build a fantastic heart within usthe sort of heart which takes responsibility for our contribution to conflicts and relationships that emerge.
I could argue it is only the great heart, one that’s prone to repentance, that knows God, for I am certain that there are lots of Christians by designation only. They certainly do not show any fruit of repentance. Of the meaningful and sincere variety; the change of mind translating to change of activity.
What’s it for us? Are we happy with how we match with our relationships? These are the things I am positive that God will hold us to account to. He might well ask,’Can you live at peace with everybody, as far as it depended on you?’ There are a few relationships, for sure, that we are to shake the dust from our feet, but what about these relationships we are called to nurture?
Are you in nurturing great hearts around you?
And so are you allowing God to nurture a fantastic heart within you?
Are we dedicated to nurture,
We can’t have it both ways.