They say follow your heart. Or listen to it and let it be your guide. And while I’d stopped doing that, or at least fought to stop for some time, I recently found myself doing it again and questioning why I had ever stopped. The good book does say “the heart is deceitfully wicked,” so for me, following it didn’t seem like the wisest thing to do.
For most of my life, following my heart had meant eating, breathing, and dreaming basketball, and at some point beginning this ongoing search for someone to call my BFF. The former lead me 16 hours away from home with nothing but a dream, while the latter, well, let’s just say I’ll be sitting on a couch once a week starting this week.
But maybe that advice just needs some fine-tuning. When I listen to my heart, I hear pain. I hear that something is missing. Something isn’t as it should be. I hear it beating, “I need more.” That more has at times been interpreted as money, shoes, clothes, attention, friends, and (now it’s thumping) love.
So, a few weeks ago, I entertained its requests for more, only to realize it wouldn’t stop making demands for even more. I’ve experienced this with a less hearty subject–shoes–a couple of times–“Oooh I gotta get these and then I’ll be set!” Then, a month later, “Ooh I gotta have these!” You’d think I’d know better, but my heart gets my mind sold on an idea, and I feel helpless to challenge it. It says it needs more love, so that means either some chick flick movie night, put my favorite love songs on repeat, or hang out with my friend until it seems satisfied. That seemed to work. But then the next day came and it started demanding again.
Finally, I realized something. Well, not on my own. I came across this observation on solidjoys.com:
“…our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right.”
Basically, our hearts want what they want so bad they convince our minds to think whatever we want should be pursued. I’d add, at all costs. That means following our hearts is really just following our desires. That might sound okay, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve desired to do things that would land you in jail or at the least things you’d be ashamed to share. Or even if you trust your own desires, do you really trust everyone else’s? There has to be a filter.
Rather than suggesting black and white rules for us to live by, which is how I used to filter my desires, I think there is a better approach. I believe we need to listen more closely to our hearts. Dissect what we hear it saying to us. Is it saying it needs more stuff? If so, why isn’t it satisfied when we get more? Is it telling me I need a best friend? If so, how come I still feel lonely when I have one?
I think our hearts are trying to tell us something deeper, but we’re misunderstanding it. The ever thoughtful C.S. Lewis provides great guidance for what our hearts just might be revealing when he says, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Maybe our hearts are saying there’s more than what’s in front of us. But what?
I’m gonna keep listening and hopefully discover just what that might be.
Caresse Spencer is helping launch All is Vanity (with artist/songwriter Natalie Sims), which is a campaign that encourages women to pursue lasting satisfaction. Visit their blog at AllisVanity.net and follow her on Twitter via @caressedionne