I am very proud of my oldest daughter, Kathryn, and how she's so wholeheartedly followed the Lord in her life. The other day, I told her, "You know, you win the Happiest Mother Award," because she is so imperturbable in everything that happens. So even keel and...happy!
Somehow I think she's got the key to happiness, no matter the circumstances. Here is what she says:
“Follow your heart!” Perhaps you’ve read it in a romantic “Christian” novel, where the heroine makes her decision to fall for the unlikely suitor. Maybe you’ve heard it from your peers, or perhaps from some well-meaning relative, encouraging you to go for “what you want” in life. Whether you are looking for your lifelong soul-mate, or your future occupation, the idea of discovering what you really want and going for it is pretty universally championed. After all, if it’s not what your heart really desires, then you’ll be miserable the rest of your life, right? But the question is, is “following your heart” right? Will it even make you happy?
I recently read an article rebutting this popular notion, on the basis that the Bible teaches us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Therefore according to the author, to look for what we want would be wrong, and the opposite of following Christ. But does this mean that we will never be doing what we enjoy? Does it mean that if we want it, it must not be what God wants? No, because God tells us in Proverbs 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” So, no, your heart is not necessarily always wrong! So, how can we be happy for the rest of our lives? Do we follow our heart?
1. Find a Reliable Guide
The real question, then, is, “is your heart a reliable guide?” If you are, or ever have been, a teenage girl, you will have a pretty good idea of the answer! Our emotions and our heart can change almost as fast as our outfits! What we feel we really want one moment (especially if it’s late at night, we are on a sugar high—or crash, having a bad day, or any combination of the above), can seem like the worst idea imaginable in the light of the next day! Our hearts are intrinsically tied with our emotions, which are permanently connected to our hormones, which can fluctuate hourly! So, we can either spend the rest of our lives trying to decipher our heart’s ever-changing desires and following them in a million different directions—like a scared rabbit zigzagging across a field… or we can find a reliable guide to which to mold our heart and its desires.
2. Seek God's Priorities First
The key is in the verse I quoted above, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Matthew 6:33 puts it another way, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” God’s Word and the principles that He teaches must be the yardstick for us to hold our heart’s desires up to. You think that your heart wants to fall in love with the not-so-Godly, but very cute, boy up the street? Whoops, that one doesn’t measure up with the 2 Cor. 6:14 measuring stick! Does your heart want an education or a career that might take you away from church and from Godly influences? You’d better check the Psalm 1:1 and Hebrews 10:25 criteria!
3. Find a few godly mentors
Another good way to check your heart’s reliability is through Godly mentors (AKA counselors). Find someone you can look up to—who is patterning their life after God’s Word—and give them veto power in your life. This doesn’t mean that they will write out a life plan for you! This means that if they think you’re getting ready to do something that isn’t wise or Biblical, they can tell you to put the brakes on! Just like a crane operator needs a spotter on the ground to point out things he can’t see from where he sits, we need “spotters” to point out dangers and pitfalls that our hearts might overlook! Our emotions can get so absorbed in a situation that we don’t see the entanglements—which is why we need Godly mentors.
4. Make your life choices carefully - prayerfully!
Above all, we need to trust that God knows what will bring us true happiness! Just as a car engineer knows exactly what stresses and loads that vehicle can handle and what situations to avoid (i.e. don’t take your Chevy Impala mountain-climbing!), God designed your heart, and he knows exactly what is best for your life! Climbing a mountain with your car might seem cool—until you barrel roll down the mountainside and land upside down in a ravine. “Following your heart” may seem exciting and liberating—until that cute-but-unsaved boy you married turns out to have a terrible temper and three other girlfriends, and you’re left abused and alone. Not every desire of our heart is wrong—the closer we are to God and His Word, the closer our desires will be to His! We just have to use the measuring sticks of Godly principles and mentors to help us choose. Then, when our choices are aligned with God’s wishes, we can be sure that real happiness will follow! There’s nothing so liberating as knowing you’re doing what’s right!
Well said, Kathryn! Thank you so much for sharing with us! Kathryn blogs about all sorts of wonderful frugal decorating and homemaking ideas at A Heart-Ful Home! Check it out!
Some of you ladies have been around quite awhile longer, and may have some additional suggestions for us. Please let us know what you think!
Yours for a Happy Journey,