And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…(Ezekiel 11:19 ESV)
The softening of a heart is the work of God to remove the protective barriers that we created out of hurts and bad habits. Getting to the root cause of our feelings can be a painful process, but it is necessary so that we can learn what needs to change within us. Having meaningful relationships with God and others is the only way for us to receive helpful feedback. If you really want to know how God feels about you, read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John); and if you really want to know how people feel about you, then you must interact with them and speak your mind. Additionally, you need to have the courage to receive constructive criticism which is not always easy because their words can feel like personal attacks and other times they just give bad advice. But as long as there is good intent behind what they say, to build you up and not tear you down, then you have the opportunity to afford them a little extra grace. Resisting the urge to retaliate and critique back is a form of self-control that is mastered over time with more practice. If you are not hanging out with people, then you won’t get any practice and you run the risk of having your heart remain hardened. Isolation makes things much easier for the devil to confuse you because you won’t have any caring people to counter his lies with truth.
When the Lord softens our hearts, he is actually retraining us to feel and identify our emotions. And once we are able to do that, then he expects us to follow his guidance on how to properly manage them. His words are the bread that nourishes our souls, and we will discover that his principles really do work if we make an honest effort to apply them. I have learned that Christianity is not about following a religion or a set of rituals to help me get right with God. Having faith in Jesus is the only way that makes us righteous, not our service or good deeds. Abiding in His teachings is what catalyzes our spiritual growth and maturity so that we can experience a much fuller and satisfying life.
The first truth that I recognized for me is that there is a lot of junk in my heart that needs to be hauled away. God is constantly all that stuff with healthy advice, thoughts, and encouragement causing the walls around my heart to crumble. I have experienced the blessings of peace in nearly all of my relationships and the success that comes with living with integrity. He wants to prosper us, but I believe his intent is not to be transactional like some sort of genie. God desires to have a relationship with us. We are his prized possession and he will continue to recondition and renew us because he loves us.