The heart is where the dirt and divine collide in mystery and splendor. It is often that most tangible way we can sense the spiritual while still confined to the realm of the natural. Even so, the heart sometimes gets a bad rap. The messiness of the human heart has led many to believe pursuing its inmost desires is wrong.
I have wrestled with these thoughts for a long time and have come to this conclusion. Your heart is not evil. Following your heart is not only a good thing, it is how God guides us through life.
Let me explain by covering five misconception about following your heart.
5 Bad Reasons to Not Follow Your Heart
You Don’t Want to Follow Your Feelings
I often wonder when people say it is a bad idea to follow our hearts if they really mean, “It’s a bad idea to always be led by our feelings.” Of course, living that way would be a disaster. It is why I have to explain to my three-year-old that not wanting to take a bath is not a good reason to not take a bath.
Caving into what our impulses tell us we want in the moment is not the same as following our heart. Following your heart always requires doing things you don’t “feel” like doing to achieve the dream God has given us.
You Don’t Want to Give into Sin
Could it be that when people say we shouldn’t follow our hearts they mean we shouldn’t follow the desires of our flesh? If that is the case, then again, I would have to agree.
Pursuing the desires of our most authentic self (healed and lead by the Holy Spirit) gives us reason not to sin; not an excuse to sin. Our hearts, what God draws to Himself, speaks to, and places desires in, is not the same thing as our sinful nature. Following our hearts is not the same as giving in to sin.
You Don’t Want to Be Deceived
Maybe you have heard that our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” But what about this verse: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
Is it possible that this “deceitful and desperately wicked” heart is describing our condition BEFORE being redeemed by the grace of God? Couldn’t we describe every part of our lives in this way before Christ entered the picture?
The ‘Check Your Heart’ Concept
I also know the phrase, “I’m just following my heart” has been abused. It has been used an excuse to ignore common sense and do foolish things. Sometimes this a way for people to state they don’t want to be questioned about something they have already made up their minds to do. But that’s not following your heart. Taking directions from temporary feelings rarely lead us anywhere worth going.
You Have ‘Cross Over Fear’
There is one more reason why we may not to follow our hearts, fear. Just because you are afraid, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your heart. You will always have to cross a bridge a faith if you are going to obey God. The argument that you shouldn’t follow your heart is just an excuse to avoid doing so.
In actuality, a lot of the idea of not wanting people to follow their hearts is based on a misunderstanding of semantics. Following your heart is not following your feelings. That is an over simplification. It is not permission to give in to your sinful desire, or an excuse to ignore wisdom and wise counsel. In fact, following your heart involves the opposite of these things.
Following your heart is having the courage to follow the dream(s) God has planted deep into your soul until it blossoms into something that benefits others. It is not being self-centered. It is being true to yourself in a way that benefits others.
Following our hearts require we…
Listen to our feelings, but also be able to say no to things that bring temporary pleasure at the expense of our long-term God-given goals.
Trust God’s strength instead of our own, because we will never accomplish the dreams He places in our hearts without His help.
Seek wise counsel and take on more responsibility; not less.
Be willing to wait instead of having our desire met now. Following our hearts will never conflict with producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Have the courage to overcome the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of change, and others fears that would keep us in our comfort zone away from crossing the bridge of faith.
Keep our eyes on pleasing God even if it means making those around us unhappy by becoming and pursuing something different than what they had imagined for us.
If Christ has come to live in us (Galatians 2:20), has given us a new nature (sit on the throne of our hearts Ephesian 3:17), then why are we still saying that we cannot trust our hearts? It just doesn’t make sense.
Guard Your Heart
You may notice none of these verses give us permission to follow our hearts without any thought about the future or consequences. There is a tension that exists between liberty and responsibility We are free to follow our hearts, but we also have an inherent obligation to maintain the condition of our souls. We must guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) if we are going to follow our hearts.
Your heart is not evil. Following your heart is a good thing and is often how God guides us through life. Have the courage to follow it.