When we added on to our home, I had originally hoped for a covered front porch that would say, “Welcome … stay a while.” The contractor pointed out our low-hanging eaves and that our entry was already dark. “A covered porch would make it even darker,” he said.

So he and his crew got creative, and the result is an entry with pergola and pavers that give the impression of a front porch while still letting in the light.

Dan and I rummaged through nurseries, borrowed plants from other places on the property, and I commandeered an Adirondack chair from the backyard. We hope the entry calls out, “Welcome!”

I think this is what God wants us to do with our lives—to lay an inviting pathway to our heart’s front door.

All too often, though, when we experience disappointment, non-inclusion, or outright rejection, our natural response is to start collecting and stacking rocks as a protective measure from further heart pain.

But constructing rock walls doesn’t protect us. It imprisons us. It shuts out love and joy.

There’s an ancient proverb that goes like this:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

Guard. Natsar. It’s Hebrew, and it means, “to protect, to guard, maintain, preserve from dangers.”

There’s a difference between guarding our hearts from danger and guarding our hearts from love and people and life experiences.

We weren’t designed to build walls to keep people out. We were meant to invite people in, trusting God with that precarious endeavor. We’re meant for relationship, for intimacy with each other and with our Creator. Keeping ourselves to ourselves does not invite intimacy.

Hearts were designed for risky living, not guarded living. And you better believe it will be painful from time to time.

But closed-hearted living is no living at all.