Join Stephanie Ward as she shared how God used a garage door to open her tired, walled-off heart to his heart appointments.
Open Your Heart to His Appointments
by Stephanie Ward
I (Stephanie) am an introverted extrovert. I love chatting with people and socializing and connecting. But I love being alone too. I could spend hours alone with my thoughts, books, shows, and chocolates in blissful isolation when no one needs or demands anything from me. Recently, God reminded me of the importance of keeping my heart open to his appointments, despite my personality.
A Tired Heart
I just got home from a fun-filled two-week vacation with my boys, friends, and family. As soon as we got back into town, we hit the ground running with homeschooling, and doing the church and sports runs, then my brother and his family dropped into town along with my folks. My boys and my folks had gone out to run a couple of errands, and they didn’t need me, so I wanted to take advantage of my quiet, people-free time.
I was so excited to have the garage to myself!
All alone, this next hour was for me.
A Walled-Off Heart
When I workout in my garage, I typically keep the door open and wave to my awesome neighbors as they walk by. But I was so done with people by that point that I shut the garage door halfway. A sort of symbol, my heart is half shut, people, leave me alone.
I pressed play on my workout video and hit the weights.
The first 30 minutes of my workout felt great. My serotonin levels increased, and I could feel the happy endorphins coursing through my veins. I was working up a good sweat and in the zone. This me-time was just what I needed.
I was having the best time hanging out with myself.
There I was, in the zone, weights in hand in perfect squatting form, when my neighbor’s adorable toddler son waltzed into my half-shut garage like he owned the place. He stopped and looked at me like, “hey woman, why’s your door shut? That sure didn’t stop me”. He grinned his hilarious toothy grin and said, “hi-hi.”
Me time done.
Blissful sweaty silence interrupted.
An Open Heart
I had two choices
1.) Be annoyed and shoo out my cool little friend.
2.) Welcome him in with open arms and share some of my garage chip hordes with him.
I chose option 2 and don’t regret a minute of it.
Pretty soon, this precious little toddler’s mom crawled into the garage, going, “Dallin, come here! Oh my gosh, I am SO SORRY he is bothering you!!!”
And that’s when I hit the garage door opener.
As the garage door opened, God opened my heart to listen and visit with my sweet neighbor friend.
My neighbor is wonderful. She is such a good mom. But as an active duty military spouse, while her husband is deployed, she juggles so much with being a single mom to three active kids. We talked, laughed at her cute little toddler’s antics, and shared our hearts.
Because the position of my heart was open and I was finally listening with ‘Jesus’ ears,’ my neighbor opened up and shared her heart. She has been going through major health scares with a few scary diagnosis outcomes (a neurological disorder or leukemia), all while her husband is gone. Talk about a heavy burden to bear alone!
I didn’t solve her problems, but I now know what she needs and how to pray. We were able to discuss the mystery of God and how she desires to get her family involved in church again. And man, I was so blessed in my conversation with my neighbor.
If I had kept my door and my heart shut that day, I would have missed time with a great neighbor, a time to minister, and a time to receive a blessing back in the form of friendship. I guess this Christian life isn’t all about my selfish desires.
A Heart Appointment
This was a divine appointment that I had unknowingly prayed for, even though it cost me my precious “alone time.”
For the past few months, I have been praying for my neighbors- praying that God would give me more opportunities to be a light in my neighborhood. Standing there in the garage that I had boundaried-out to be all about me, myself, and I, God was answering my prayers.
Isn’t God funny?
In our human interpretation of life and ministry, we sometimes put up boundaries as a means of self “preservation.” But God can smash our man-made boundaries showing us that his plans are better than our own!
There’s a movement in today’s modern world about boundaries, self-preservation, and self-care. While I am not against the idea of boundaries (because sometimes we need those clear lines), I don’t want to go all the way to the other side of the spectrum.
God did not create us for self-preservation. He created us so we could reflect his glory to those around us in body, mind, and spirit.
The Lord didn’t say, “well done, my good and faithful boundaried child.”
He said, “well done, my good and faithful servant,” Matthew 25:23.
That leaves my heart unhealthy and removed from interaction with people. I don’t want to be so self-focused that I am the person with a half-shut garage door.
A Heart for Others
Caring for others that are hurting is messy, exhausting, good, ugly, hard, and wonderful… all at the same time.
Sometimes to love thy neighbor as thyself, we have to die to our heart’s selfish desire for solitude and self-care in order to simply be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Circling back to my neighbor and her sweet family, they did indeed get involved in our church on post, and their oldest son even got baptized. This family is special, and God is moving in their lives. I am so blessed to be a small part of their big story, and all I had to do was open my heart.
I pray we remember to open our hearts, be flexible with our boundaries, open our garage doors all the way and let the blessings come in as we say, “not my will Lord, but your will be done in me.”
Notes and Resources
- Read the introduction for Heart Health Month here.
- Read the introduction for our Faith Full Friday series here.
- Read parts one and two of our January series on empowerment through our identity in Christ.
- Look for a fantastic Deeply Rooted Podcast episode on Heart Health here.