Follow your heart. Or not.

Jon Bloom had a great post the other day on the popular theory that if we just do what’s in our hearts and we can’t go wrong.

Princess Diana once said, “Only do what your heart tells you.”

This is a creed believed by millions. It’s a statement of faith in one of the great pop cultural myths of the Western world. It’s a gospel proclaimed in many of our stories, movies, and songs.

It states that your heart is a compass inside of you that will point you to your own true north if you can just see it clearly. Your heart is a true guide that will lead you to happiness if you can just tune into it. We are lost, and our heart will save us.

This sounds so simple and liberating. It’s tempting to believe.

Until you consider that your heart has sociopathic tendencies.

One of the things that seems to be most challenging for the women I interact with is grasping a right relationship with the heart.

Most people I meet seem to either be led by their hearts, or they have come to resent their hearts.

People who are led by their hearts.

Many women panic when I put forward the idea that their heart is not the most trustworthy compass for their lives.  Just reading this post, you may find yourself annoyed or irritated or threatened because you do trust your heart.  Even now, your tendency is to trust your feelings to determine for you what is real.

You accept or decline truth based on how it feels to you.  Your heart is your authority.

But our heart does not tell us what is true.  Bloom says:

No one lies to you more than your own heart. It’s true. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)…

[Our hearts] are pathologically selfish. If we only do what our hearts tell us we will pervert and impoverish every desire, every beauty, every person, every wonder and joy. We will try to consume them for self-glory and self-indulgence.

Our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts.

People who resent their hearts.

You may be someone who has recognized the danger outlined above, and in your attempt to flee and protect yourself from your heart you have come to believe that your heart is a curse.

You may begin to think you heart plays no role in obedience.  You may begin to believe that God calls you to ‘just obey, no matter how you feel’, forgetting that there is no way to obey the commands of God without engaging your heart.

In my own personal struggle with emotions, I began to resent my feelings.  My goal became to destroy my emotions, not to redeem them.

So, what is the solution?

God calls us to have hearts that are led by truth and also gloriously reflect the truth.

Jesus did not say, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).

Our hearts should feel differently because of the truth.  Believing in God should effect our hearts.

Truth effects feeling.  Feeling doesn’t effect truth.

Which tendency do you relate to?

4 thoughts on “Follow your heart. Or not.

  1. I’m am trying to let God’s truth guide me. Redeeming emotions can be hard, but it’s so freeing…. I have been learning a lot from your posts!

  2. I’ve told my heart not to worry about influencing my behaviour and instead concentrate exclusively on circulating blood around my body so that I don’t die. Bonkers though it is I actually make most of my decisions with my brain, although I do sometimes let my liver decide what to have for dinner.

  3. Great post! (I just found your blog last night, and have really been appreciating the perspective God has given you and that you’ve been able to share.) I wanted to comment that we’re able to redeem our emotions because God has given His children new hearts – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26. (Yes, that’s to Israel, but we’ve also got II Cor 5:17 saying the same thing, basically.) Hearts of stone could never love God, but thanks to Him He has not only redeemed us but has enabled us to love Him and has loved us first. Thanks again for all your writing!

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