Just follow your heart . . .
The heart wants what the heart wants . . .
Let your heart be your compass . . .
Let your heart guide you . . .
It sounds so good. So romantic and self-fulfilling. What could go wrong if you’re following your heart?
The answer? Everything. Everything can and likely will go wrong, if all we’re doing is following our hearts. One thing I can absolutely tell you about the human heart is that it’s fickle, selfish, and often makes stupid choices. All the popular things our culture throws at us about following our heart are going to lead us right into a pit if our heart isn’t in the right place.
How’s that for a reality check? Positivity at its finest.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10
Here’s the deal. No matter the situation or relationship, if you’re in it long enough, there’s going to come a day when your “heart”, that little inner voice that just wants what it wants, is going to tell you to bail.
Marriage? It’s fantastic somedays. And somedays it just isn’t. Why? Because we’re human. We’re selfish, and our hearts grow tired and familiar and weary with dealing with the same stuff day after day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bad “stuff”, just daily stuff . . . bills, kids, being a responsible adult. Believe me, if you’re in it long enough, and you don’t put in the work, there will come a day when your heart is convinced there are much greener pastures . . . that the ideal relationship lies outside of your marriage. Your heart is deceitful. (Caveat: As always, I’m not talking about abuse, affairs, or abandonment. If you are in an abusive relationship, and a spouse that cheats is emotionally abusing you, you need to leave and find a safe place where you can process and heal and decide your next steps.)
And if you think marriage is hard, let’s give parenting a go . . . maybe your kids are angels . . . I love mine dearly. I’m immensely proud of them . . . so much y’all. But they are not perfect, and while I won’t parade their mistakes and faults on here (or on social media) for all to see, I also refuse to present everything my kids do and say as perfect, cute, and funny. I’ll tell you there are days . . . I have a teenager (hello, hormones) and a nine year old that struggles with past trauma and emotional regulation . . . there are definitely days that I wonder if I’m truly qualified to parent these people . . . the tape (I’m aging myself with that reference) running through my mind keeps telling me, “You are screwing this up royally . . . You’re a crummy mom . . . ” but y’all, the heart is deceitful.
Spoiler alert: On my own, I’m not capable of being or qualified to be a good wife or mother (or anything else). Because my heart is deceitful, it will absolutely lie to me, and as if that’s not enough, it’s desperately wicked . . . it’s selfish and self seeking. But God . . . God is so good. When we come to Him and give our lives, our wills, our emotions, to Him, He gives us a new heart.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
It’s not that my old heart, my old nature, doesn’t try to rear up on occasion. It does. More often than I’d care to admit. But when Jesus is your Savior, your Redeemer, your Friend, there is a holy discontent, a complete lack of peace and a conviction from the Holy Spirit, that accompanies acting on your selfish nature and flesh rather than what God desires for your life. Long story short, sin should not sit well if we’re following Jesus. Just before we reach the words in Jeremiah 17:9-10, we read these words:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:5-8
Texas is, literally, in the midst of a severe drought. It’s incredibly hot and dry, and every plant and animal are desperate for water. But if you go to the (San Marcos) river, which is spring fed and continues to run in spite of the heat and lack of rain, you’ll find a cool respite from the oppressive heat. The trees along the banks stay green, even when everything else is suffering, because of the constant supply of water.
Our country, our world, are a hot mess right now. It’s easy to watch the news and despair. It’s even easier to let a constant anger, that eventually leads to bitterness and cynicism, simmer in us.
What’s not easy? Life. Life is rarely easy. But God is always reliable. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength . . . Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.” If we are putting our trust anywhere . . . in any man, or government, or business, or relationship . . . anywhere but in God, we are misplacing that trust. But when we trust in God . . . when we choose to follow Christ’s leading rather than our own hearts then we are the tree standing tall in drought . . . in conflict . . . in sickness . . . in loss . . . in stress . . . in war . . . in floundering and failing economies . . . not because of anything we are, but because of Who He is. That’s where I want to be found. Not following my heart, but following His.