We’ve all heard it. There is a decision to be made in your life; you reach out for help. The most well intentioned, heart-felt friends say these comforting words to you:, “Just follow your heart.” Ahhh….yes. “Follow your heart,” sounds innocent enough. No harm or foul play there, right? Wrong!
This sort of melodrama is made for Hollywood movies. Independent souls setting out on their own. Lone rangers ready to take on the world– follow their inner passions and desire in order to “find themselves.” In the real world, following one’s heart often looks much different from the picture underscored on the movie screen. Following your heart is a self-centered philosophy and is a decision land mine.
See if this comment sounds familiar in today’s self-seeking culture: “I divorced him. I had to be with Jim. You have to follow your heart, right?” I wasn’t fulfilled in my job so I left, I had to follow my own heart and move on.” Following one’s own heart insinuates there is some value in seeking an inner purpose in one’s life and not God’s purpose in one’s life.
Yes, there are times we do need to “soul search.” However, soul searching should be aligning our thoughts with His thoughts. Our hearts with His heart. Despite the messages our culture bombards us with regarding this topic this much is true: You do not need to find yourself in order to have peace in your life. You only need to seek HIM and you will find peace IN HIM (See Matt 7:7).
Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Hmmm. Desperately wicked? I don’t think any of us want to believe our hearts are wicked. We would like to believe our hearts are virtuous and if we listen to what our hearts are telling us, we can unlock mysteries, open up possibilities, and sail through life’s decisions with no threats of a storm on the horizon. We want to believe WE hold the key to our own success. Western culture encourages us to align our hearts with our own destiny in order to achieve our dreams, goals, love, and notoriety, monetary success…the list goes on. However, God wants us to align our thoughts and hearts with Him. He wants us to follow His heart.
What can happen when we make decisions on our own and trust our own hearts for answers and direction? The answer is very simple; God will let us. Psalm 81:12 states: “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Not including God in the decision making and trusting our own heartfelt desires is dangerous territory. Nevertheless, God is a gentleman and will accommodate. If you do not allow Him to help you make decisions and want to follow your own heart…He will let you.
Another danger of listening to your heart as opposed to a more Godly view of listening to His heart, is that our own internal voice becomes louder than our Heavenly Father’s. He yearns to guide, guard, and desires to lead us in the right direction. If we do not constantly seek out His will for our life and listen for His wisdom, we fall in the trap of listening to our own voice. Our own voice will consistently get louder and louder until the voice of our Father is but a whisper. Whispers are hard to hear and even harder to yield. Our own hearts will become the sounding board in which our decisions are made.
Just like following your heart, only making a decision on what makes you happy is dangerous. Yes. God wants us to be content and live an abundant life (See John 10:10). He wants us to experience joy, not based on our circumstances, but in Him. Romans 15 reminds us: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13). He fills us with joy. Making decisions to make yourself “happy” is setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on the joy of the Lord, not worldly happiness coming from plans you make on your own. We are not meant for this world (we are meant for heaven). We are going to be discontent if a Godly focus is not at the forefront of your decisions. Our own happiness is temporal….the Joy of the Lord is eternal!