5 Ways to Guard Your Heart

5 Ways to Guard Your Heart & Find Peace After a Hurtful Relationship

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

My phone slipped from my fingers to my lap as the room spun. My husband watched the color drain from my face and he pleaded again, “What did she just send you?”

My jaw slacked, but no sound came out. He glanced at my phone, still open to Facebook Messenger displaying a photo of my Mom holding a handwritten sign announcing the execution of our relationship:


Years of tears and prayers hoping to save the relationship and rescue her from herself materialized to my worst fears. Actually, I kinda expected I would be the next kid to get the ax. But that didn’t make it any easier. 

“At least now you know,” my husband whispered. “And you can finally get off of her roller coaster”

But I didn’t get off the emotional roller-coaster because you don’t give up on family, no matter what. The Bible says to forgive, even as we are mistreated. And walking away from a parent is not honoring. If I was on a path to ruin, I’d want someone to knock some sense into me, so shouldn’t I do everything I could to help her see where her lifestyle would lead?

Have you ever been in a relationship built on strife? How much time and energy did the hurt suck out of you and your household? Like me, did you believe you were doing the right thing, even through the cursing and Kleenex?

Biblical Boundaries

I allowed others to control my moods and the mood of my family until I read the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Boundaries is written for the Christian to learn how to set healthy, Biblical boundaries in their relationships.

Boundaries are deeply rooted in Scripture, but the enemy uses Scripture against us. Sometimes, we just don’t take the time or initiative to study or ask God what a passage really means. Regardless of the cause, misunderstanding Scripture can lead to bondage as we wear ourselves out trying to do the “right thing”. 

Boundaries in our relationships are deeply rooted in Scripture. Find out more on 5 Ways to Guard Your Heart & Find Peace After a Hurtful Relationship on Candidly Christian. Share on X

Christians aren’t meant to be doormats, and it is God’s will that we live in peace to focus on Him and His purpose for our lives. 

5 Ways to Guard Your Heart & Find Peace After a Hurtful Relationship

1.) Walk Away

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 13:20 NIV

Many scriptures tell us to walk away from hurtful people. We are called to forgive them, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick around for more. “Walking away” can also mean distancing yourself emotionally as I had to. 

What does the Bible say about walking away from hurtful relationships? Download a free printable with 21 Scriptures to Guard Your Heart at the end of this post.

2.) Only Reap What You Sow

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

I thought it was my responsibility to warn and save my mom from the consequences of her lifestyle decisions. This mindset is even stronger as powerless parents watch their adult children make mistakes. But we need to get out of God’s way. 

I learned that I can’t reap what someone else sows, nor should I suffer the consequences of someone else’s decisions. I don’t know about you, but I suffer enough for my own mistakes without taking on someone else’s mess!

I can’t reap what someone else sows, nor should I suffer the consequences of someone else’s decisions. Share on X

3.) Define Your Responsibilities

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

Galatians 6:2-5 NIV

Galatians 6:2 and 5 defines our responsibilities to help one another while handling our own affairs. A “burden” is something too heavy and crushing to handle alone, such as an enormous boulder. A “load” refers to a knapsack where you carry every-day items, such as a pouch small enough for a few pebbles. 

Jesus expects us to help each other through burdensome hardships, but we each should handle our own day-to-day load. I confused the difference when I saw my mother adopting a destructive lifestyle. I’ve also seen selfish people take advantage of people-pleasers by asking for help with things they should do themselves. 

5 Ways to Guard Your Heart & Find Peace After A Hurtful Relationship

Related Post: What God Taught Me About Forgiving Others Through Betrayal by Sheila Schweiger-Rhodes

Examples of defined roles and duties within relationships are woven all throughout scripture, even within the three Persons of the Trinity. God is the Creator and Master of the Universe. Jesus is God made flesh who shed His blood for our sins. The Holy Spirit guides us in how to live according to Jesus’ words. God doesn’t show His face on earth. The Holy Spirit didn’t create the world, and Jesus had to leave for the Holy Spirit to come. 

Is someone asking you to carry their pebbles? If so, I hope you’ll find the freedom to say no knowing that Jesus expects us to take responsibility for our own daily lives. 

Related Post: You Can’t Reap What I Sow – Candid Moment by Valerie Riese

4.) Pray

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:28 NIV

When my hurt and anger threaten to seize my mouth, I honor my mother by praying for her. I admit, I don’t always mean it at first, but Jesus softens my heart as I pray.  

5.) Give it to Jesus

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22 NIV

The enemy wants to use strife to distract you from the peace, purpose, and intimacy that Jesus died to give you. When I’m tempted to get back on the emotional rollercoaster, I give my troubles to Jesus in prayer. Again. And again. And again. I imagine leaving a package at Jesus’ feet as I pray:

“Jesus, this is out of my control. I give this to you and I refuse to take it back. I know nothing surprises You and you know their heart. Thank you for always being in control, for handling this, and for giving me Your peace beyond understanding.”

The enemy wants to use strife to distract you from the peace, purpose, and intimacy that Jesus died to give you. Give your struggles to Jesus. Again. And again. And again. Share on X

Related Post: How to Overcome Bitterness & Love Again After Betrayal by Heidy Reynoso

Final Thoughts

God Isn’t a Genie in a Bottle

Please know this isn’t a magic recipe. I surrender my hurt and anger to Him as often as it takes. But it gets easier. I no longer spiral out of control because I give Jesus control over the situation and my emotions, as often as it takes. 

God Uses Others to Help Us

A word about counseling. An EAP counselor gave me the tools and resources I needed to deal with the situation better. She recommended several resources, including the book “Boundaries”.  Christians are sometimes hesitant to seek counseling because we think we’re supposed to rely on Christ alone. But God uses other people, including professionals, to teach us how, help us carry our burdens, and build us up. 

Where Your Responsibility Ends

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18 NIV

My counselor reinforced my pastor’s teaching that, even though Christians are called to treat everyone with love, that doesn’t make us doormats. In fact, Paul told the church in Romania to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on them and if it is possible. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it’s not possible. Then our responsibility is to pray for the person, the relationship, and our own healing. 

Join the Conversation

Are you or someone you love riding an emotional roller coaster that leaves them drained, stumbling, and sick? Boundaries are Biblical, and I’ve put together a list of scriptures to support you as you prayerfully seek balance in your life. 

Have you ever looked into what the Bible says about walking away from hurtful relationships? We’d love for you to join the conversation in the comments below.

What does the Bible say about walking away from hurtful relationships? Download this free PDF with 21 Scriptures to Guard Your Heart Share on X


    1. You’re welcome, Sarah. I agree, counselors can be a wonderful help and I was blessed to get a Christian counselor through EAP. My counselor was an answer to prayer for sure.

    1. Thank you, Michele. I really appreciate it. It was hard to write, but also very healing. This experience was yet another example where leaning on Jesus is always the answer. I pray it helps others in similar situation, so please share it with people like the ones where were in your class.

  1. This is filled with so much wisdom! Thanks for sharing your painful story. All of us have been there at some point in our life with someone we care about. My daughter is going through this with a friend so I will share this with her. Love the boundaries books too!

    1. Mary, your comment warms my heart. Writing this post was hard, but also healing. I was pretty nervous the day it published too, but I just hoped and prayed it would help someone, so I’m very happy to hear you’re sharing it with your daughter. I believe God can use all things for good if we make ourselves available.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Valerie. I think it’s an especially rough situation when your parents are the relationships you have to shield yourself from. This was an encouragement to me today, and I’ll share it with it my oldest stepson whose mom just kicked him out of the house twice in two weeks. I pray it encourages him during his tough season.

    1. Ashley, I’m so sorry to hear about your stepson. This has to be so incredibly hurtful as a young person. Someone I love very much has been through similar circumstances. I pray that this post helps him and I hope he picks up the book. Ultimately, I pray that he can begin to guard his heart and lean on Jesus now. He’s lucky to have you in his life to guide him.

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