“Remember that the heart is a traitor. Keep it locked with seven locks.”
-The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva
I am not yet old enough to know all the wisdom of the whole wide universe, but neither am I a blank tabula rasa free of viewpoints and principles. One distinct thing I have learned in life is to keep the heart locked. Sure, it’s good to follow one’s heart. But from time to time, even the heart needs restraints that shall keep it from overruling one’s head.
Women, in particular, are most apt to take hours on end trying to find the perfect pair of clothes, the right pair of shoes, the appropriate eye and cheek tint, and everything else. And yet, we so undersell the most important thing of all: who we give our hearts to. We refuse to wear anything less than the best, and yet, we put up with indescribable amounts of garbage from undeserving men who like to take advantage and simply squander empty promises and affections. And that’s why that breed of men proliferates this planet– they often get away with it because women let them.
(This can apply to some men conversely, but I believe I am in no position to speak on their behalf. I am not generalizing men here; I am just speaking about those despicable men who do not even deserve to be considered men, in the truest sense of the term.)
I have learned, mostly in the painful and hard way, that it is very much important to erect fortresses as frequently as we open our lives to new things and new people.
Recognizing the real from the fake— because there are those who hide really well in their smokes and mirrors. But at the end of the day, you will find nothing but just that: smokes and mirrors. And time is the best acid test for seeing what’s real. I have often found people who like to strike when the iron is hot, not knowing that it causes so much unnecessary and stinging burns when all the initial bravado wears off.
Worse, some people like to lead you on. They like to affirm themselves at the expense of other people. They mislead you by being sweet and making you feel “special”, but they actually do that to everyone because they want to devour all the affection, admiration and affirmation they can get.
Reading the signs early on and dealing with them immediately— but most people (myself included) like to go voluntarily blind even when everything already points to the logical decision of letting go and keeping a safe distance. Crudely depicted “signs” missed by women can be found in the movie “He’s Just Not that Into You.” And there are so many other films and books that will attest to this frequently repeated mistake.
I was talking about this remotely with Katt and Daphne last night in McDo after work, and we were so unanimously in agreement of the fact that nothing kills the appeal of a guy worse than being too needy, looking all desperate to find a woman and hitting on all the women with unnecessary flirtatious remarks every chance he gets.
An important warning: There are people who take advantage. Be wary of them, especially the subtle ones who hide their misdeeds in the thick cloak of wholesome involvements and activities. There is never an assurance that you are safe, even among the spiritually minded ones. You might be even surprised that the outright jerks are fairly more decent than the hidden ones who hate showing themselves for real.
Restraining one’s unruly self at those crucial moments where it’s hard to take a stand— and this is something I struggle with the most. It also involves, conversely, the restraining of the unruly ones from wreaking havoc in your otherwise peaceful existence.
Remembering the lessons from the past, and taking care not to repeat them. Aside from lessons from the past, it’s necessary to feed the mind and heart with new soul-enriching things for a brighter future.
Reminding the self frequently that all this struggle is WORTH IT— because there will be moments where you will loathe yourself for having such high aspirations. Because it automatically makes you hard to get to, in some way. Because it makes you less appealing to some people for taking a stand. But let those hideous moments pass and you will surely emerge as a stronger woman.
When involved with heart issues, it’s often so easy to fall into a tunnel, not really able to see things objectively. I have often found it most helpful to take means of spiritual formation in a community that I can genuinely trust, a community that “walks the talk” and helps you see things from a clearer perspective. Nobody is too old to have a mentor. Even though I am extremely busy with the things I do, I ensure that I make time for talking to her. And in matters of spiritual direction, it helps to bare the soul and be as simple as possible, even with the things I am most uncomfortable/ashamed of discussing. It is in deep conversation that an equally deep form of assistance can be rendered. If one does not want artificial help or artificial relationships, one has got to take the time and really be authentic.
Woman, take your sweet time, widen your horizons and open your life to people and things. But guard your heart with seven locks. We are told to make the most out of life, but that does not involve letting others step in too closely that they will devour us– our principles, our identity, our very souls.
Those interested in the seven locks can read more from Father Soria’s book entitled Is Purity Possible?