It’s all over the Old Testament: the people of God are hardhearted, and it’s a big problem.
This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.” Jeremiah 4:3
I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ Hosea 10:12
They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them. Zechariah 7:12
It leaks over into the New Testament, too.
For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ Matthew 13:15
Hard hearts are associated with empty worship, allowing or perpetrating injustice for the oppressed, and lack of mercy in business and other interpersonal dealings. It doesn’t have to do with whether emotions are sufficiently mushy. It’s a spiritual condition.
I bring this up because this is what I’m working on in the new year: the stubborn nub of hard heartedness in me. That part of me that not only needs to be right, but needs for you to acknowledge my rightness and punish yourself accordingly. This is not a helpful need. It has blocked progress in our attempts at beating back our marital Big Nagging Issue. Not to mention the stupid bickering about some nothing item.
That part of me that keeps me safe in my pharisaical bubble of sureness that “I’d never do that,” whenever I see some that that annoys me.
The part of me that retreats into hermit-ness way, way too often.
The part of me that became so disappointed at the struggle of life this past year that it interrupted my spiritual habits, my gratitude for what I have, my ability to recognize solutions. I wasted way too much time in “It wasn’t supposed to be like this” land.
So there it is. I’ll be working on becoming more spiritually soft hearted, which encompasses listening better, watching deeper, loosening the packed soil of my heart for God to work in. Other than praying for it (and being on the lookout for what God will show me), one of the practical things I’m doing is getting help for my depression — I’ve been clutching it to me like a bad friend for too long.
I have a feeling this year is going to be a doozy.