"Follow your heart." We've all heard it before. But the effects I've seen of this heart following are all too often negative - divorce, broken families, adultery, broken trust.
The heart (the emotions) is a fickle thing. We tend to be motivated by what feels good, what makes us happy, by what we believe we deserve. I am so guilty of this! I frequently decide that I am not feeling loved enough by Pat. Maybe I even feel taken for granted. My heart begins to ache a little bit, and I follow it. I follow it right down the path of blame and accusation, dissatisfaction and criticism. Very soon, neither of us is "happy" in our marriage.
So where would we be if I kept on following my heart down that path? Probably in a state so miserable that divorcing and breaking our family apart would seem to be the only path back to happiness.
I believe it is healthier, wiser, and better for the heart if we choose to "lead our hearts." Like I said, emotions can change on a dime (they are not the best compass to follow). How much wiser would it be for us to direct our hearts (our emotions) in the way they should go?
What do I mean? I mean this - regardless of the feelings, we choose to act in ways that reflect what we want to be feeling. We choose to show love regardless of how loving (or not) we are feeling. Come back with me to the place where I'm feeling unloved or taken for granted. I don't have to follow my heart to the pit of despair. No way! I can make a choice, in that very moment, to lead my heart.
For me, leading my heart might look like doing something to show Pat that I love him (even though I am feeling unloved) - even better, doing something to show Pat that I respect him (more on love & respect here and here). It might be forgiving that my work has been taken for granted, and picking up the strewn laundry because I love him. It might look like clamping my mouth shut when all I really want to do is spew and vent how horrible I feel, and praying that God changes my heart (rather than praying that God changes my husband).
The funny thing I've noticed is that when I lead my heart, it doesn't take long before my emotions follow where I want them to go. The feelings of hurt and discontentment ease away. Loving thoughts and feelings work their way back in. I begin to feel "happier" and my actions reflect it. And more often than not, a chain reaction begins. Rather than ending up unhappy and divorced, we end up stronger and more committed.
In The Love Dare it says this: The world says to follow your heart, but if you are not leading it, then someone or something else is. The Bible says that 'the heart is more deceitful than all else' (Jeremiah 17:9), and it will always pursue that which feels right at the moment...The Love Dare journey is not a process of trying to change your spouse into the person you want them to be...The truth is, love is a decision and not just a feeling.
We each have a choice to make. Follow the heart and hope to heaven we find love and feel loved. Or lead the heart and choose to be love and show love.