Friday, April 30, 2010

The Danger of Following One’s Heart

Yesterday, instead of going to JazzFest as I had planned, I ended up home sick on the couch passing the time with a combination of naps and daytime TV.  About 4 in the afternoon I came across Oprah’s interview with Rielle Hunter, the mistress of presidential candidate John Edwards.  At one point in the interview Oprah asked Hunter if she thought that she had hurt Elizabeth Edwards by having this affair with her husband.  The answer that she gave (which I will mostly paraphrase since I cannot locate the transcripts yet) seemed to beat around the bush a bit but finally landed on “I was following my heart.”  Oprah then probed a bit further by saying something to the extent of “but what if following your heart was hurting someone else?”  The next couple of minutes of the interview were an exercise in trying to find right and wrong in the murky waters of moral relativism.

This is where things got interesting because Rielle Hunter, in defending her actions, was no doubt using the very philosophical arguments that are so commonly propagated by folks like Oprah.  Oprah was very much caught in a predicament at this point in the interview because as far as moral relativism goes Hunter was just doing what was true to her and what was in her heart.  This was a rather awkward moment in the interview because Winfrey just didn’t have much else she could say though it was obvious that she believed that what Hunter did was wrong (at least on some level). 

I am a big proponent of living from the heart.  In my opinion folks like John Eldredge have been a huge blessing to the church as he has called folks to live from their hearts with books like Wild at Heart and Waking the Dead.  This has been much needed because so many in our world simply live on auto-pilot with no sense of passion or desire in the way they live their everyday lives.  However, following one’s heart, in and of itself, is not the answer.  Living from one’s heart only works in the context of being submitted to God. 

In my message last weekend at Northshore Vineyard entitled Ruined I shared how as a teenager I followed my heart.  I wanted to be a musician and everything in my life conformed to that dream from how I spent my time and money to even the kind of car I drove.  I put everything I had into that form of following my heart but it was selfish and self-absorbed at the core and ended up leading me to a place of depression, loneliness and despair.  It was only when I surrendered to God that I could truly live from my heart in a way that was redemptive, in a way that freed me to live as God had intended. 

What do you think?
  • Have you ever experienced following your heart in a way that was simply making up your own truth as you went along?  If so, how did that work for you?
  • Where should living from the heart fit into the life of a Christ-follower?


Lori Grace said...

That's a pretty powerful post. Following one's heart with a heart that's not following after God's truth and love. But the world doesn't know that until they learn and respond to that firsthand. If you're in God's perfect will, doesn't he grant you the desires of your heart, according to Scripture? Lots to continue thinking about here. Thank you.

Carlos said...

I really enjoyed the post and found it very relevant for the world today. I am also glad that you brought up the point of living from the heart. To me that idea means to live passionately and desperately with the time and opportunities that you have. However, a person can do that following God or following the world. The Bible warns us not to trust our heart (or selfish desires) because it is deceitful. Only a heart that is committed to the will of God is worth following. Thanks again for the post Crispen.

Pi Man said...

Howdy from New York State, Crispin! I’m here until the 11th visiting family-Tim

• Have you ever experienced following your heart in a way that was simply making up your own truth as you went along? If so, how did that work for you?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. And I cannot think of a single time that there was not either a short term or long term disaster that followed. I was simply rationalizing out my behavior so I could accept it as “okay.” But the truth is I was doing what I wanted, no matter what. But God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, showed me the truth and reality of those foolhardy choices. Unfailing love, eh?

• Where should living from the heart fit into the life of a Christ-follower?

It should be at the core of every decision we make. I think it gets back to us trusting and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. I can assure you that, and this relates to the first question, if one leaves God out of the equation when making choices, then it’s only a matter of time before that explodes in your face. Surrender to God is not really surrender at all. It’s acknowledging that His ways are better than ours, and believing that He really does have our long term best interest at heart.