Just (don't) Follow Your Heart
“Just follow your heart!”
….. how many times have we heard this one? For myself, too many.
Friends, tv shows (cough cough Bachelor seasons 1-84648), and books, in one way or another send the same message - follow your heart. Usually referring to big life decisions like relationships and careers. Whatever the emotionally charged decision is, culture’s common knee- jerk answer is: “Well how do you feel?” “What do you feel in your heart you should do?”.
Now I’m not saying that anyone giving this advice doesn’t mean well, I’m sure whoever says to follow their heart, truly believes that’s a good answer. Butttttttt when we’re talking about making life-altering decisions like college, career, and relationships; I have trouble placing my trust in the one thing God’s Word says is deceitful above all things.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful above all things, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10 (MSG)
To understand why I believe the Bible says our hearts our so corrupt, I think it’s important to ask ourselves:
What does “following your heart” even mean?
Obviously, this doesn’t mean follow the blood-pumping organ in your chest cavity, so what is this heart we’re referring to?
The other meaning for “heart”, the one most often used in this context and the Bible verse above, is referring to the central place our feelings, desires and emotions lie (side bar: the Hebrews actually originated this double meaning for the word “heart” in Biblical times to describe our emotional center, for anyone who cares about history and origination of words like I do… if not, sorry to waste your time by reading this side bar).
What I’m getting at is, basically what this infamous “follow your heart” motto is saying is… “follow our feelings, desires, and emotions”. Which, I know I’m not the only one who is terrified by that notion. I’m pretty sure my heart’s bipolar… that thing changes all. the. time. One rude comment, one disagreement, one date, one spilt coffee... can literally change my whole day if I’m following my emotions and feelings. If my only guide in decision-making is what I wanted to do… actually no let’s not picture that Kaitlyn… that’s scary. But I will say that I know there would be no direction to my decisions, which in turn produces no direction in my life. Sadly, many of us, both consciously and subconsciously, live like this…. Absolutely all over the place.
The Bible, which as a Christian is pretty much our “how to” life book, has a lot to say when it comes to the heart. It actually mentions the heart over 300 times…. so ima say that’s enough for me to believe it’s pretty important we understand the heart, our natural tendencies, emotions and feelings.
Jesus, being basically the best human role model we could ask for, brought attention to how misguiding our hearts can be during His ministry. Specifically, in the gospel of Mark, He has some pretty harsh statements about our hearts in their human condition, “Out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).
O U C H!
Basically, out of this center of emotions, desires and feelings is where our evil tendencies hide. If you knew that following your heart would lead you to one of those 13 adjectives, would you listen to it? Yeah, not a chance. Not to mention, if the One who created the heart and knows it best, described it as He did in Mark- I think probably He knows a little more about it than we do.
If not the heart, what should we follow then?
So now that we know we probably shouldn’t jump on the follow your heart train, what guide do we turn to as we make major life decisions? What is our guiding compass when picking a college, spouse, city to move to, or really anything?
Well the answer is pretty cool if you ask me.
Because Jesus saw the corrupt, sinful condition of my heart and yours, He came to give us a new one, a pure one. In fact, that was the whole point of His ministry on Earth- to give you the hope, rest and peace that comes with this renewed heart.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).”
So to answer what or who you and I should follow, follow Him. Jesus. Follow His Word, and His Holy Spirit that have been given to us as believers when we receive this new heart. To pray to Him for guidance in your decisions. To look to scripture for wisdom. To look to other followers of Him who can help you wisely navigate and pray through these decisions with you.
I don’t follow my heart. The Holy Spirit leads my heart. Now not always, I still fall victim to what I want and my selfish desires sometimes. My human flesh really tries to pick a good fight against Jesus, wanting to rule my decisions, but I know that He is stronger than my heart.
We’re human and it happens, but I promise the peace and fulfillment that comes with obediently seeking what He wants us to do is so worth it. When I align with Jesus as He’s continuously molding and shaping my heart into this new heart, through the power of His Spirit, MAN OH MAN does it take you to the sweetest, most unexpected places!! Places following my heart would never have gotten me.
“For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything” (1 John 3:20).
Have a good weekend peeps!