Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lead Your Heart

"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.


  1. You are so full of wisdom, my dear young niece. I'm almost 57, and I still fall into the negative of blaming, self pity, etc. Keep on teaching and inspiring, dear wise soul!

  2. This is so true...
    I was just saying this to Guy yesterday...we want what "make us feel good"...and that is not exactly how it should be...following our hearts leads to big trouble...
    We must LEAD our hearts...
    I too have been blamed for doing such a thing...and learn every day not to follow my heart but lead it...
    The younger generation needs to badly to understand this concept right now...we live in a "feel" good society where we get what we want/when we want it...all because it feels good...sometimes doing the right thing has nothing to do with feeling least not immediately....doing the "right" thing does lead to feeling good all on it's own...that is the beauty of this...leading our heart does reward us feeling good in long run...

    Beautiful post/full of wisdom!

  3. Awesome concept! Love it...going to try this :)

  4. Interesting timing of this post.

    I have thanked Ian on several an occasion, for following his heart and walking away to find joy. It is easy to write that you have seen it all too often when you haven't actually walked through the entire process and witnessed the happiness at the end. For all of us.

    I completely agree with choosing to lead your heart in happiness, but believe they are seperate from the journey of a divorce. Very different.

    This is post a perfect example of why it is hard to be a part of the church. If you are not a stereo typical 'perfect' family there constant comments leading to feelings of failure.

  5. To my friend Louise,

    I have been pondering your comment all night long, not wanting to reply in haste. How about I take it one point at a time...

    Timing - I began drafting this post a few weeks ago, when our life group started doing The Love Dare and the Fireproof study together. But it didn't feel real to post it until I had spend some time practicing it. We are now at the middle of The Love Dare, day 20, and I feel that I have seen some of the benefits of following their principle of leading my heart. So the time felt right.

    Ian - I hate what he did to you and your family, and though he wasn't on my mind while writing this he is a classic example of how following the emotions can go wrong.

    You are right, it's always easy to write about things that you haven't experienced. And though I have not walked the path of divorce in my own marriage, I have most definitely experienced it - very personally. I am a child of divorced parents. I am also a child of parents who have walked through some thick, murky waters and made the choice to lead their hearts. My thoughts on the effects of divorce are mostly personal reflections on how it has impacted my life.

    You are always free to disagree with my point of view. My point of view is that following your heart when in a marriage is more likely to lead to divorce than leading your heart. I do see them as closely tied. But I accept that you disagree.

    You're right about it being hard to be a part of the church. The church is full of people like me, sinners. Most of us are there because we want to be more than the sum of our sins, but don't mistake that and think that most of us think we're perfect. I am all too aware of how NOT perfect I am, of how much I screw up. I pray every day that people will be able to see past my screw ups to what it's really about - Jesus and His love.

    Stereotypical perfection - I am not striving for any stereotypes in my life, rather I have an ideal. An ideal that I believe is the best situation (though not always possible). In my mind, in most situations, the ideal is for marriages to stay together. I also have an ideal (or stereotype) that sex is best (and maybe even as close to perfect as it can be) when we wait for marriage to enjoy it. Clearly, based on the eleven-year-old evidince from our not-quite-ten-year marriage I am not successful at living all my ideals.

    Failure - You're not the only one who feels like a failure based on the comments of others. Homeschooling mammas often make me feel like a failure for sending my children out to be schooled. It's nothing specific they say, but the language they use ("our primary job," etc.). But I am also aware that most of these moms are not using the language to make me feel condemned - they are simply speaking the language that helps them to understand why they do what they do and believe what they believe. I don't speak of marriage/ divorce, leading/ following the heart to condemn anyone or make anybody feel less than. I mainly speak of these things to remind myself of what I believe is important and why, and how to keep things headed in the direction I want to go in. In fact, so many of my friends and family have walked through divorce that the people I most look up to and admire in the world are on their second (or more) marriage.

    I hope my response helps you see my heart a bit more, and know that my intent was not to make anyone feel crummy.

  6. Agree to disagree ;) My apologies if my comment made you uncomfortable. Due to my current vulnerbility, I took it as a personal attack. My mistake. We are both strong women on different paths. I know where you come from and highly respect you for it.

  7. Love you, Louise. You are a strong woman whom I hold in high esteem.

  8. Thanks for sharing this - the fact that we can't follow our feelings it the whole premise of the love dare. It's an impossible challenge without Christ.


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