Follow Your Heart?


     Largely due to a certain holiday that took place a few days ago, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the massive emphasis that our culture places on feelings. It seems to me that we live in a drastically unbalanced society.

     Of course there is also a problem with passionless intellectualism, but I’ll rant about that another time. In this post I just want to ponder about the over-emotionalism that is so prevailant these days, especially amongst my generation. 

     I just wonder why we as a generation are so driven by feelings. You can see it in our dating relationships, in the movies we watch, in the books we read, in the youth groups we attend, it’s everywhere. It’s incredibly disconcerting to me. Somewhere along the line it has become a good thing for people to wear their hearts on their sleaves and to make decisions based on emotions. 

     Often I listen to the phrases that people use when I have conversations with them and I hear them say things like: “What does your heart tell you? ” and “Just follow your heart. . .” These phrases bother me because I cannot forget Jeremiah 17:9 which claims: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” If we allow our hearts to direct us it will lead us astray. Emotions, affections, and feelings are not adequate guides for living a good life. They will lead to inconsistancy and self-delusion.

     It is certain that there is a place for the heart, for if we have no passion, if we have no feelings, and no love, then we are worthless. Yet, the heart without the direction and reason of the head is a dangerous thing. Misdirected, well-intentioned passion can do a good deal more destruction than cold-hearted intellectualism. I just wonder how much better the world would be if people directed their lives through wisdom instead of emotion.

     I think a lot of times this generation has a tendency to confuse reasonable discourse with hate-speech and exciting emotions with love. Thinking is not a terrible thing. More importantly: love is more than a flutter of the heart. Love does involve feelings, but it is not composed of them. I believe there would be a good deal fewer divorces if more people understood that love is not just about feelings, but involved determination, endurance, friendship, and commitment.

     In my own life, I have found one truth to be unfailing: the wisest people I know are also the most loving people I know. Note, by wisdom I am not referring only to intelligence, but rather to reason, applied knowledge, and consistency. I have found that when someone is lead by wisdom they understand love more thoroughly than someone that is led by emotion. When someone determines in their mind to be patient, kind, commited, and steadfast they become loving. Whereas, if someone focuses on what makes them feel good, the person that gives them butterflies in their stomach, and whatever gives them the most excitement, they are not going to be truly loving, but will be constantly chasing after something better.

     My mind turns back to a particular friend I have had that was one of the most passionate, emotion-driven people I have ever met. He impressed almost everyone that he interacted with, especially the girls. He was confident, charming, and great at smooth talk. It seemed every girl he knew was in love with him or had been at some point. I observed him and realized that it was because he knew the right words to say to connect with their emotions and to make them think that he was actually commited to them.

     Well, this friend of mine had a great set of ideals and if someone had asked him about his views of love they would have been impressed by his words. Yet he did not live out his ideals because he was emotion-driven. He tried to find his fulfillment in girl after girl and left a string of broken hearts in his wake. All because he did not set boundaries on his friendships and formed emotional attachments with every girl that he could. When a girl would disappoint him, he would turn to the next one that gave him a good feeling. 

     Watching this chap’s life made me understand what a dangerous thing emotions can be. If he had formed only one emotional attachment to one girl who was to be his wife there would be nothing wrong with that. But he used his emotions to test and sample girls to try and find the right one, which resulted in a good deal of hurt. His actions have served as a warning to me and have shown me why emotion is not to be a person’s guide. 

     Now, on the other end of the spectrum, how much greater love would a man have if he was guided by wisdom? What if he took time to truly get to know his friends with his mind instead of letting emotion cloud his thinking into forming unrealistic idols of them? Real love involves patience and determination more than emotion. I admire and respect the men I know that have great marriages, and I have found that a common thread in most of the great marriages I have seen has been wisdom.

     Virtually all of the godly men that I consider to be mentors are wise, not impulsive, and their love springs from determination instead of feelings. That is exactly how I want to live. I want to love from the heart, yes, but from the head as well. I want my love to endure past emotions and feelings and experiences. I want my love to be determined, patient, and steadfast. I refuse to follow my heart. For my heart is deceitful. Instead I will follow wisdom, for wisdom comes from God.

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About Jonathon Thigpen

I am a student, writer, photographer, traveler, teacher, and Lego enthusiast, who is endeavouring to be a man after God's own heart.
This entry was posted in Community, Redemption and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Follow Your Heart?

  1. Annie says:

    These are good points. Passion and emotion do have their place and are important, but are only effective in the context of wisdom (and never running ahead of an unwavering commitment). Feelings are not meant to take the place of godly discernment.
    “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” -Joshua Harris
    “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” -2Peter 1:5-9
    And that photograph is very lovely; what a gorgeous flower!

  2. Carson says:

    Good thoughts, and so true.. a point that I’ve been hearing recently is; feelings and emotions are nothing to go on–they are the most easily influenced by the enemy.

  3. me says:

    Wow. Way to bash one of your “best” friends. You still aren’t conveying at all that you understand emotions, if in fact you do. There is a great deal of truth in what you say, which is why it’s hard to point out the (monumental) falsehoods that have woven themselves in. I really don’t want to go into it verbally, since my words will not convince you just as much as your words don’t convince me or most other people. Here’s an idea: try loving and communicating by actions not just words?

    • Well, anonymous poster,
      Firstly: I never said that the gent in question was one of my best friends. Secondly: I was not bashing him, but using his errors as an example, and I fail to see anything wrong with that. Thirdly: What “monumental” falsehood would those be? Fourthly: I do not think you are correct in claiming that “most other people” won’t be convinced by words in that the only feedback I have received aside from yours has been quite positive. Quintessentially: I find that final statement to be an unmerited attack on my character and therefore do not even feel the need to address it.
      Thank you for reading and responding and I hope you have a wonderful day.

      • me says:

        Actually, I was referring to myself, not him. Although you assuming that I meant him suggests that it was very likely him if that is who came to mind. Oh and I think that for the most part, people who agree with you will be ready to say so. But many people who do not will be more hesitant to do so, since they are the group of people that have been hurt and attacked and they don’t want that to happen again because of what appears to be a person who very avidly and insensitively holds to his beliefs. Rational or not, that’s where many of them are coming from. So I’d be careful not to judge how “most” people take it solely based on what verbal responses to your posts say. 😉 I hope that makes sense. Blessings, my friend.

    • Well, I wasn’t “bashing” you either. However, my “assumption” was a logical conclusion seeing that I only mentioned one friend in the post. I was simply discussing an ideology that I disagree with. I am sorry if you felt “bashed” but that was not my intention, or my fault. Perhaps verbal affirmation is not the best litmus test of agreement, however your claim that “most people” disagree with me is still, quite frankly, bunk. Hope you have a blessed day.

      • me says:

        You’re just never wrong, are you? That mentality will get you nowhere. Your logic is flawed, and on what basis are you claiming that my statement regarding “most people” is bunt? Honestly.

      • I never said that I’m never wrong, nor do I have that mentality.
        A better question would be: on what basis are you claiming that most people agree with you?

      • P.S. Again you directly attacked me. This time my logic instead of my character, and I would appreciate it if you would either have something more useful than insults to post on my blog, or leave me be.
        Hope you have a wonderful day.

  4. Raja Sandor says:

    I have for awhile been coming around to the ideal that love is not the emotion we believe it to be. Not the love that should lead us towards a serious relationship, but It should rather be the same sort of sacrificial love that Jesus shows when He goes to the cross, or even when He “sets His eyes on Jerusalem,” in Luke 9.

  5. Well written, and I agree with most of your points. But for the sake of discussion, I wanted to bring up Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (NASB)
    I think I see the point you’re trying to make, that our heart is valuable but given over to irrational decisions and needs to be tempered with wisdom and understanding. You’re advocating for the careful watch over our hearts lest we be led astray by undirected passion and purposeless zeal (correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption). But here in the middle of a chapter in Proverbs about wisdom we find instructions to guard our heart for it is the well spring of life, for life flows from our heart. Or earlier in the chapter…

    1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
    And give attention that you may [a]gain understanding,
    2 For I give you sound teaching;
    Do not abandon my instruction.
    3 When I was a son to my father,
    Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
    4 Then he taught me and said to me,
    “Let your heart hold fast my words;
    Keep my commandments and live;
    5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
    Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
    6 “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
    Love her, and she will watch over you.
    7 “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
    And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
    8 “Prize her, and she will exalt you;
    She will honor you if you embrace her.
    9 “She will place on your head a garland of grace;
    She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

    …I especially want to highlight verse 4 where we are instructed to hold onto wisdom with our hearts. Wisdom is not just a head thing, it’s not just logic and reasoning (although those are wonderful blessings from God that in today’s culture are underutilized, they are not the entirety of wisdom). Wisdom deals with our hearts, with that spring of both life and deceit. And we are hard pressed to understand our hearts (which is what I think Jeremiah, quoting God, was getting at)…

    5 Thus says the LORD,
    “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
    And makes flesh his strength,
    And whose heart turns away from the LORD.
    6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert
    And will not see when prosperity comes,
    But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
    A land of salt without inhabitant.
    7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
    And whose trust is the LORD.
    8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
    That extends its roots by a stream
    And will not fear when the heat comes;
    But its leaves will be green,
    And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
    Nor cease to yield fruit.

    9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else
    And is desperately sick;
    Who can understand it?
    10 “I, the LORD, search the heart,
    I test the mind,
    Even to give to each man according to his ways,
    According to the results of his deeds. ”

    …For us to be able to commit wisdom to our hearts, we need God’s help for only He can FULLY understand our hearts. For us to have “life and life in abundance” as Jesus brought, we have to give our hearts over to God so that He can cause them to overflow.
    But the point I’m getting at is this…our hearts are not only deceitful and sick, our heart is also the seat of wisdom and the wellspring of life if we give it over to God.
    Am I correct is guessing that you’re frustrated with a) Christians who profess Christ but live with hearts attached to this world? and b) hearts in this world -sick and deceitful, without wisdom or life – being the basis for actions when even a little bit of knowledge, let alone God’s wisdom, would have directed much better choices?

  6. Wow! Thanks for the fantastic reply! You pretty much nailed it. Thanks for pointing out that section in Proverbs, definitely a helpful reminder. I should clarify that I by no means meant to negate the value of the heart, as you said, it certainly can be a spring of life, but I meant to point out that it is lead astray easily and cannot always be trusted. And you are definitely correct regarding my frustrations.
    Thanks again for the comment!

    • Alright, I’m glad I was reading that right. I didn’t think you were trying to make the heart into a villain but I just wanted to make sure. I completely agree with you though.
      And shoot, for the sake of extending the conversation…what do you think of Jason Gray’s song “More Like Falling In Love?”

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