Follow Your Heart (And Other Things Christians Should Do)

"Psh, that's ridiculous." I thought while watching Pocahontas for the millionth time. The whole spinning compass and magic flower wind was a little out there for my fourteen-year-old sensibilities. "You're not supposed to follow your heart. Haven't you ever heard Jeremiah 17:9?"

||"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" -Jeremiah 17:9||

Clearly, you should not follow your heart. It is deceitful (above all things!!!) and super wicked (like, even more than the musical), and incurable and just generally horrid. If you do follow your heart, you'll end up miserable and cold and alone. No one can ever conquer the heart, so you should probably just ignore it when it tells you about that thing you're passionate about, or that crazy idea you've had for years.

So you take this seemingly sound advice, and you leave behind those crazy things your heart keeps telling you to do. After all, no one would listen to or notice or see you anyway. So you put those things in a drawer named Maybe (Probably Not). You put aside your dream for more sensible things, for what head-knowledge and everyone else say you should do. You put aside your feelings, gradually, until you no longer know what you want and why you're so discontent. Then you put the discontent in another drawer and hope no one notices that you want something more.

Maybe that was never the intent of the whole "don't you dare follow your heart because Jeremiah 17:9 says..." Regardless of the intent, you've ended up a heart that's miserable and cold and alone--wait. Wasn't that the point of the J17:9 thing? That you wouldn't end up like that?

When I chose to follow the J17:9 philosophy, I thought that was what I supposed to do. When I felt hurt, I did what I "supposed" to do: ignore those feelings, hold the tears in, and said that I was "fine." When I felt like I was on top of the world, I ignored that, too. When my heart told me I had something good, or when I desired something, but because my heart is deceitful and wicked and all that jazz, it was clearly wrong and I was just being ridiculous as usual. In the end, I just ended up hurting more.

||"...For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." -2 Samuel 16:7b||

Hold up! Hold the phone. Why is God looking at the heart if it's so wicked and incurable and stuff? And if God is looking at the heart then ... maybe we should too?

Okay, okay. I know the heart is naturally wicked and blah blah blah. But, in the words of Emily Freeman, "if we continue to live as though our hearts are desperately wicked, we have tragically misunderstood the work of Christ."

Jeremiah 17:9 isn't the only verse to talk about the heart.

Ezekiel 36:26 - "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."

Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

If God gives us a new heart, how can it be entirely deceitful and sick? The cure for our wicked hearts is Christ. No, not everything you feel is right, and you shouldn't base decisions solely on feelings. But don't ever, for one second, ignore your heart. Even if you don't follow it, give it a listen. It may just point you back to your creator. Listen to your heart. With God's help, learn to understand it.

||"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17||

The whole wind and leaves and compass thing from Pocahontas isn't the goal (although learning another language with the help of cool leaf wind would be cool). But neither is living a life that denies all desires. And if God gives us the desires of our hearts when we delight ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4), those desires cannot be evil and wicked.

So follow your heart, but not before you follow God. That's what's up.