“Follow Your Heart”
It’s everywhere nowadays. Social media, internet memes, songs, movies, books.. and it sounds great, doesn’t it? Do what makes you happy, look inside yourself, happiness is within you, all the answers and problems to life solved by following your heart. Or are they?
I “followed my heart when I was younger”. Too bad my heart had no idea what it wanted on a day-to-day basis. Truth is, our hearts are very fickle, swayed so easily. Following my heart led me into several emotionally-damaging relationships; essentially, I embodied the phrase “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
If I were to have followed my heart as an adult? Well, I would probably be divorced by now (Spoiler alert: Marriage? Is hard!). Or in jail for vehicular homicide (Marriage. Is. Hard!). Perhaps run off for someplace tropical, leaving a fussy baby at home with potential-ex-husband (because, also, motherhood? IS HARD!). And by tropical, I mean I probably would have ended up in a shady studio apartment barely scraping by a living as an underpaid waitress while rebutting passes made by skeevy, greasy men.
Frankly, my heart would have led me into a whole mess of trouble if I were to just blindly follow it.
Or, to quote a verse more eloquent than I could ever put into words: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
That quote? From the Bible. Jeremiah 17:9, to be exact (KJV).
And doesn’t God know our heart better than we do?
Yes, our hearts are very deceitful. What we think we want now, may not be the best things for us. We want instant gratification, we want what is going to make us happy – but our minds are so limited that we cannot see past our own nose half the time! I’ve seen marriages crumble with no obvious cause, other than “I’m not happy”. I’ve seen couples chase after their dream house, only to come crashing down from after getting their heart’s desire by the reality of a massive mortgage. I’ve seen people jump from job to job to job, thinking each time they start a new project, they will finally be happy… yet are, each time, disappointed.
And the wickedness?
This “follow your heart” attitude is why our world is in such turmoil. Instead of being accountable to God, we are choosing to just be accountable to ourselves, which really – is just ridiculous. Following your heart is like building a car and then telling it to take a drive. The car doesn’t know where to go or what it’s built for. Is it a race car, built for fast speeds? An off-roading Jeep, built for rugged terrain? A strong truck, built for pulling heavy loads? Just like a car needs it’s driver to point it in the right direction, so too do we need God to show us what we are built for, what we were made to do.
Satan wants us to follow our heart. He is not called the “father of all lies” for no reason. He is a great deceiver and wants us to only think of ourselves and what we want, because it takes our focus away from God. I mean, isn’t that how he tempted Eve? And look at the mess all that caused.
I hate to sit here and tell you that your heart is nothing but evilness and nothing good will come of your desires. Rather, the opposite: if we strive to build a relationship with God by prayer and study what He wants for us through his Word, He will change our hearts!
Everyone wants to quote Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” as a way to follow your heart because God wants you to be happy. But in reality, if you are truly in tune with the Holy Spirit, your heart will be changed so that the desires of your heart will be the desires of HIS heart.
Is it your desire to be wealthy, with a big house and nice car? That’s probably not a Godly desire: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9)
Is it your desire to leave your wife or husband? You aren’t happy, he or she isn’t the “one”, and you know you will find your soul mate next time. However you spin it, that is also not a Godly desire. “He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8). Because of our hearts.
Following our hearts is like following a blind man. Rather than follow our hearts down any whimsy that comes our way, we should protect and guide our hearts. Will it be easy all the time? No. Will we be happy all the time? No. But is that the goal in our life? To get through it easy and obliviously happy? If you don’t know God – then perhaps. Because this life is all you get. If you don’t know God, and you have no desire to know God, then you better live it up now, because this is the best it’s going to get. Sorry.
But I highly encourage you to get to know Him. Really know Him – because even those of us who do are imperfect, human. Don’t base your view of God on me, or your mother, or your grandparents, or the pastor down the street, or what you THINK the Bible says. Because all of those things can be very deceiving, and they all fall so very short of who God truly is.
So maybe you don’t get the giant house you wanted. Perhaps in a couple years, there will be a huge housing bubble economic crash, and millions of people will have to foreclose on their homes.
So maybe you don’t get that dream job, or are stuck working someplace you really have no desire for. At least you have a job, are able to provide shelter for your family, food on the table, and clothes on your body.
So maybe you don’t leave your husband for the cutie bartender who always gives you an extra shot on the house. Perhaps, God will put it in both of your hearts that love is a choice, not an emotion, and after years of struggling and working through your issues, you two come through stronger than ever, loving each other in a way you didn’t even know was possible.
Now, I’m not saying God won’t give you desires or goals or spiritual gifts. All I’m saying is that, trusting in Him, praying to Him, asking Him to show you the path that you were created for, is a lot different than simply “following your heart… and hoping for the best”. And in the end, He can change our hearts to find true contentment in any situation: a small house or a big one, a boring job or a great one, a hard marriage or an easy one.