"Follow Your Heart" is Really..Realllllly Bad Advice
“ The heart is deceitful in all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?“ Jeremiah 17.9
Emotions aren’t facts. Just because you feel a certain type of way (whether you’re in love or feel justified in your hate, etc...) doesn’t make you an exception to God’s word or allow the reality of a situation to suddenly shift in your favor according to your emotional state or preferences. I hear the advice “follow your heart” far to often by seemingly credible adults and even Christians as if this is a valid and intelligent way to make life decisions . It may sound pretty or even spiritual, but think back to how many times you went after something just because it felt emotionally stimulating without seeking God’s "ok" first ( through first His word, then through personal revelation through prayer) only for everything to go left later down the road. Pursuing things because you FEEL like it is a recipe for disaster. You’re a human! You’re built to be short sided, fickle and emotionally unpredictable. Whose to say what you feel like you want today will be any good for you tomorrow? This is why it says “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3.5), because you were never built to be reliant on something as unpredictably shape-shifting as your desires, emotions/passions, or even your own (finite amount of) intelligence.
But to be clear, by no way am I saying that your passions aren’t sometimes divine given inclinations of what God’s intended purpose for your life is. I believe we serve a God who is beyond rational enough to know the easiest way to influence His creation to want to do what you have created it to do to the fullest of his or her ability is to give them delight in doing it; but even with that you must inquire God if it is His will for you to pursue this passion. Just because you’re good at it and/or you even feel an emotional draw towards it doesn’t mean that that’s where God wants you. I’m great at a lot of things that don’t bring God glory and I’ve felt strongly for a couple of things and people that were outside of God’s will for me. When your heart is the one driving the car, you have to remember, your feelings playing the role of your GPS is the easiest way to get lost. There’s no guarantee your heart isn't just taking you on the really scenic route at first, only for you to realize it’s actually leading you down an unsafe and really dark road later on down the line.
Jesus himself said “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7. 20-23) Why glorify handing over the keys to the very thing God warns that most of your life problems will spring from? The heart can be a lovely accomplice but it is an ill-equipped leader.
The easiest way to discern off the top if you’re being spiritually convicted to do something by God or if it is a personal desire is to ask:
- Does the thing I’m following because of my heart lead me to glorify Christ and intensify our relationship or is it leading me to make excuses for why I am not. You can follow your heart across the globe and back, just know when things inevitably start to get rough and you have to ask God to co-sign on what you started without Him, He’s not going to bless it once you realize you need Him to sustain it just because now your emotionally attached. God does not want you to pursue situations that lead you away from Him either, no matter how much your heart may flutter for it. * Also important to mention is that God isn’t out here trying to block every hearts desire (He very much so loves giving his children GOOD and perfect gifts), but He also recognizes that sometimes we lust after and even love things that will later cause us harm. No matter how good it may feel or look NOW, sometimes God says don’t go after that inspite of your feelings because He knows things about it that you don’t.
- Secondly, read your Bible. The easiest way to tell if your heart is being lead by God to pursue something, is if it is aligned with His word. Most of us struggle with this; we think God knows me and my heart and my situation and He’s merciful so He’ll make an exception for ME. For the record* God’s mercy is shown to us with the hope that through His patience we will turn back to Him and repent. Mercy is not you going after whoever and whatever while God smiles and nods in spite of it being contrary to His word. I actually call that the knockoff/store brand version of mercy , it’s faulty and cheap but a lot of people buy into it because it’s more convenient. In any event, God will love you and even hold your hand through any and everything , but God does not bless anything or idea or relationship that He did not give birth to. God will not take an active role in blessing anything contrary to his word that you personally have chosen to pursue. There is no endorsement greater than God’s written word and if you can’t find peace in what your pursuing when reading it, you may need to consider if it’s worth pursuing at all.
- Lastly, pray. Ask for discernment and wisdom and a mature enough spirit that pursues that which is according to his divine will and is respectful of his word. The cool thing about talking to God is he actually talks back. Not necessarily in a “Morgan Freeman voiced burning bush kind of way” (lol) , but the more you talk to Him the more you develop kind of a specific, individualized language where you can hear him through circumstances or however else you seem susceptible to hearing Him. But you have to talk to Him and be yielding and patient enough to give Him the space to talk back. Ask God if a feeling needs to be followed and God will always confirm or deny how He sees fit. But(!)you gotta ask the guy first because to many of us are getting tripped up running behind something God never put our name on; and just cause because it “ gives you butterflies” doesn’t automatically mean it’s meant to be yours.
Scripture says to “ Guard your heart, for the issues of life flow from it.” (Proverbs 4.23), the world says to blindly follow it, make sure you’re not drinking the kool-aid provided by the latter.
Love y’all, God bless and take care,