Whenever I hear anything about “following your heart,” I always think of this verse in Jeremiah:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
-Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)
I have proven this to be true. My thoughts and emotions both surprise and scandalize me sometimes. I find myself thinking, Where on earth did that come from?
Maybe it started with something I read or something I watched that got embedded without my conscious permission. Sometimes it might have come from nowhere on earth at all; it might have come from Satan. Either way, I want it out of my head. But getting something out and getting something in are two entirely different propositions. Once a thought has taken up residence, even just for an hour, it can be hard to convince your mind that the thought has absolutely no right to be there.
And how about emotions? Sometimes you can’t exactly put them into words. An emotion is sometimes a strong impression on your soul, and that is even harder to fight because you cannot pin it down with words.
I can’t tell you how many times I come before the Lord and say, “God, I don’t know what this is or where it came from. Take it away and cleanse my mind. I want to think Your thoughts and follow Your will.” Sometimes I pray Scripture, and sometimes I just pour out all my frustration about this crazy heart I can’t seem to control.
And God will give me the victory. But sometimes it takes a while. Why can’t it just disappear? Why can’t He erase the weight? Why does it have to return and try to worm back in?
I honestly don’t know. I’m pretty sure it must be because I haven’t fully surrendered it to Jesus, no matter how much I think I have. (It’s excessively annoying. I think I have something resolved, and here it pops up again, almost as if it never left. I mean, really!) Sometimes I’m so sure I released my thoughts to Jesus to cleanse, and later that day, or tomorrow or next week, I have to do it all over again.
But the victory when it comes is very sweet. Freedom from the bondage of my own wrong thoughts is exhilarating.
And then we have the truth that God gave us our emotions. He has emotions, after all, and we are made in His image. Not all emotions are bad, even anger. God says that sin angers Him, and that He hates it. [Just a note to be perfectly clear: God does not hate the sinner, but the sin itself.]
To eliminate our emotions would be to smother part of God’s image in us. Yet God never acts out of His emotions. They don’t control Him.
And that is a very fine line to maintain. God does it with no trouble, of course. His emotions are infinitely purer and higher than ours. It’s humans that have problems keeping our emotions from dictating our actions.
God created us with minds, bodies, and emotions all inextricably intertwined. We can’t really compartmentalize ourselves. Yet it is extremely difficult to learn the balance.
I know I haven’t. I pray and try to prepare for the next challenge. And when the challenge comes, I often fall (quite hard) on Jesus. Then He picks me up and washes me clean, and we have another try at it.
Quite frankly, it’s a bit tiring. I still haven’t learned this dance of balancing the emotions God gave me with the truth of His word. I still haven’t mastered the tactic of rejecting wrong thoughts immediately and keeping them at bay. I still haven’t perfected a complete surrender to Jesus Christ.
But I plan to get there. I have my whole life to keep trying, and I will not give up. Because I know Jesus won’t give up on me.
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
-Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
P.S. I feel like this isn’t one of my best-thought-out, best-organized posts. I hope that, in spite of that, it rings true with you in some tiny way.