By Allison Antram, Staff Writer

“Guard your heart,” may be one of the most overused and underappreciated phrases used in all of Christian lingo. It has become diluted and misconstrued to a point where I cannot seriously express this idea except when prefaced by “I know this is overused and cheesy, but…”

However, this verse (Proverbs 4:23) that actually carries a lot of weight, but it doesn’t have much to do with relationships as we so often use it. The chapter instead refers largely to wisdom, and how we should seek and guard it fiercely. It’s ironic that we are keen on talking about relationships so deliberately, but when it comes to applying this principle to our actions (where it’s intended), we are so lazy. What are we putting more value on here?

We have become pretty lazy about the influences we deem permissible in our lives. As Christians, our reasoning and our lives should look different from the rest of the world. Our actions are not only significant because of the example we set, but for the effects they have on us. But how often do we intentionally keep our evening plans in check with the Lord’s heart? Not for the sake of legalism, but to be mindful of what is God-glorifying and what is not. This doesn’t mean we shelter ourselves; this means we choose our influences wisely and examine them through the right lens.

But I often see Christians, myself included, flirting with boundaries in our own attempts to gain love and intimacy – how close can we get to sin without actually sinning? We don’t like to acknowledge it very often, but the media we surround ourselves with isn’t just entertainment; it teaches us things. We are called to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and worthy of praise – how much of what we take in every day actually fits this definition?

Often, our lack of boundaries, or our flirting with them, comes in much subtler forms. We all function differently and struggle with different things; our “rules” should be just as subjective. While we have a lot of blatant rights or wrongs, there’s also a lot of gray area for us to sort through. Some things that are completely fine for some may be a stumbling block for others, however innocent it may seem. Silly as it sounds, there have been times in my life where my heart and my mind are not in a place where it’s healthy for me to binge-watch romance movies. For some, listening to rap music isn’t beneficial; or spending too much time online; or Pinterest-planning your wedding. What makes something healthy or not healthy for us is determined by the effect of it on our own minds and how it affects our relationship with God – not by how everyone else perceives it. Our purity of mind is a personal responsibility, not a public declaration.

We need to get more serious about guarding our hearts (seriously). Why are we sacrificing our spiritual well-beings for the sake of being socially accepted, or for the sake of gratifying our desires through less-than-holy methods? Our society represents a twisted view of everything – particularly love. I suggest we stop conceding with these ideals. Your mind is a battlefield; what are you deeming worthy of occupying it?