"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23, NIV

"Don't harden your hearts..." Hebrews 3:8, NIV

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“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.”
― A.A. Milne, The Pooh Story Book

Things I have been told during my career:

"You need to toughen up."

"You can not be so emotionally invested."

"You need a harder heart."

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No, no and no.

When there is grief, I need to be gentle, I care deeply and I need a soft heart. The payoff has always been that I am emotionally steamrollered. One sad case can flatten me for days and have lasting effects. It has always been worth it. I would rather be there in the midst of the sadness than anywhere else.

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But what if instead of our hearts becoming hardened or remaining completely vulnerable to destruction, there were a third option?

We are instructed in the Bible to guard our hearts, but not to to have hard hearts. How is that possible? 

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I think the key is in developing a stronger heart.


Some of the strengthening of a heart is supernatural. It is not something we can will to happen, but it is something we can allow to happen.

When the next appointment is a euthanasia or a quality of life consult, do you open the door and walk in prepared to be fully emotionally engaged? Already, with each experience your heart grows stronger.

Our hearts can also be strengthened through repetition. Keep walking into difficult situations over and over. Not that we have a choice as veterinary professionals. Guard your heart. Do not let it become hardened. Let it grow stronger with every experience.

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You are already stronger than you know and becoming even stronger.

"Don't Let Your Heart Be Hardened" by Petra

Don't let your heart be hardened - don't let your love grow cold
May it always stay so childlike - may it never grow too old
Don't let your heart be hardened - may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure

May it always feel compassion - may it beat as one with God's
May it never be contrary - may it never be at odds
May it always be forgiving - may it never know conceit
May it always be encouraged - may it never know defeat

May your heart be always open - never satisfied with right
May your heat be filled with courage and strengthened with all might

Let His love rain down upon you
Breaking up your fallow ground
Let it loosen all the binding
Till only tenderness is found