So, newsflash: I suck at guarding my heart. It's kind of hard to guard something that has had a longtime residence on your sleeve for anyone and everyone to see and mess with.
But one friend who has seemingly made it his mission to teach me the things it took him years and a lot of avoidable pain to learn sort of showed me today that if I don't learn how to not trust everything everyone says, it's going to get me into a lot more painful situations. Situations like this one.
This conversation all started because I told him how I thrive on words of affirmation, and he said that he used to thrive on words until he learned that actions really do say so much more. Then he told me that I need to learn to be wary of people, not everyone, just the ones like that boy whose actions don't match the sweet words that can come pouring out of their mouth.
Touché, friend. Touché. I like to think that I won't make such an egregious error in judgment as what I did with him, but who knows. I'm too trusting, and I have a terrible habit of wanting to see the best in everyone, even when they haven't earned that benefit of the doubt. And when I want to believe that I'm not making a mistake by investing time, love and energy into a person and a relationship, well, I think it's pretty obvious that I can convince myself of just about anything.
At first, I thought this friend of mine was saying that I needed to be wary of everyone around me, to which I responded that I thought that was his jade talking, that I'd rather form authentic relationships with the people who aren't in it to hurt me than spend time questioning everything. Because I've been there, I've been that person that questions everything and everyone, and it's exhausting. The only reason it didn't totally destroy my chance at a relationship with my Reformation brothers is because they insisted on loving me anyway, through all the questions and my hesitation.
This friend of mine loves to tell me that all the questions bouncing around my head regarding figuring this out, learning who to trust and when to show my hand and when to hold it close to the vest, will be learned with time and age and experience. Which I think is at least part of the reason why he wants to teach me so much now. But his lessons sort of only leave me with more questions. How am I supposed to know when to be wary and when to trust my gut? How do I protect myself without changing who I am at my core?
I feel like my lack of "guarding my heart" against the people who might only be in my life for dangerous motives is what makes me so nonjudgmental and open and empathetic to the people who really do value me as a friend. And I don't want to shut myself off to the new friends that I could make simply because I'm too caught up in what might go wrong. A girlfriend of mine told me last night that she loves and admires how I make friends everywhere I go, and I don't want that part of me to change. Especially not because of something that is as big of a time waster as fear.
I just love people. It's pretty simple. And if I lose that love for people, what do I really have in this life?