Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?

Hello all! Welcome to the first week of the Having a Heart of Gold series! Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at what it means to have a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. This week, we’re talking about why following your heart may not be the answer to life’s tough decisions. So grab an iced coffee & your favourite throw blanket (if you’re an iced-coffee-and-cute-throw kinda person) and read on!

The world says "Just follow your heart," -- but is this really a good idea? How do we stay "true to ourselves" and yet follow God's leading at the same time? Does God care about our desires? Click here to read more!

So…the heart. It’s a simple enough concept, yet ask any three people what the heart is, and you’ll get a variety of answers. A muscle that runs the whole body. A bit of your mind, soul, and body all wrapped into one. Your capacity to love and be loved and build relationships. There are so many different things that the heart is. In reality, all these are true. The heart is complex and capable of hundreds of emotions, desires, and thoughts, and is significant in every part of life.

If the heart is so many things, what does it mean to follow your heart? When I hear people say this or apply it to a situation, I usually understand it to mean following your “true desires” or dreams. To be honest, I think that the phrase “Just follow your heart!” is a very dangerous one. But before you decide that I am totally uptight & nuts-o, please hear me out.

Here’s my type-A, eldest-child logic. We are not perfect, right? In fact, we’re flat-out sinful creatures, born with the strong tendency to want to disobey God. Correct? So why do we think that following our own heart is always the right move? How can we trust our emotions and desires when we are inherently sinful?

The heart is no exception to our self-serving nature. Jeremiah had strong words about the heart. Chapter 17, verse 9 says this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God is not satisfied with the situation of our hearts. In fact, when we become Christians, God gives us a new heart. In Ezekiel 36, He promises us this:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

If the Bible is so clear about the condition of our heart before Christ, and God’s desire to change our heart, why do we think it’s a good idea to blindly follow the desires of our hearts? If we want to make the right decision, should we not seek  to follow the heart of the One who is perfect and true and in Whom there is no fault?

When we follow our hearts, we are following our emotions that are happening right now, in the present moment. This is dangerous because emotions change, and they are not reality. God warns us against allowing emotions to rule our lives. In Proverbs, fools are people who speak based on their emotions and act on how they feel. When we follow our feelings, we simply aren’t being wise.

The truth is this: when we choose to follow our hearts, we are choosing our own desires above God. Click To Tweet

Am I saying you should completely ignore your heart? Nope! God gave us our hearts and the desires that go with them for a reason. He made us with free will, and we should not deny or ignore the things He puts in our hearts. God works through our hearts to accomplish His purpose (I’ll come back to this later).

God knows the desires of our hearts; whether it’s a certain job you’ve always wanted, an opportunity that seems to good to pass up, or even a lifestyle choice such as marriage. He knows. God doesn’t think our desires are petty or insignificant. He takes each one of our desires seriously. In Psalm 37, He even gives us this promise:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

God does not want us to be joy-less all our lives. He wants to fill our desires. But there’s a catch.

Yes, God loves us and wants us to be filled with His joy (notice I didn’t say “He wants us to be happy”?). But first, we must delight ourselves in Him. That means that He is first, and we do His will and are obedient to Him first. Then, and only then, will He give us the desires we have. In Matthew 6:32 & 33, He gives us this promise:

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The reality is that as we focus on God and seek His will, our desires will start to align with His. There will be desires that you thought were very real; yet when you start to focus on what God wants for you rather than what you want, you find that those things weren’t as important as you thought or they weren’t real desires.

On the other hand, desires you didn’t know you had will come to light and plant themselves deep in your soul. You may become passionate about things you didn’t know you cared about, and God will start to do amazing things through you.

When we start to seek the will of God rather than our longing, we become closer to Him and our whole life becomes re-prioritized. God changes our hearts and works in us to complete His will and fulfill us.

We will never be truly satisfied until we refocus on Christ. Click To Tweet

God may also ask for us to give Him a desire of ours. And it may totally suck. Sometimes, He takes that longing and says, “My child, you think you want this. But I know that it will not truly fulfill you, and I have something much better planned. Will you trust Me?” Other times, He asks for it only for a time and gives it back later. He asks us to trust Him. And in return…He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea? (you’re reading it now!)
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the desires of your heart?

How are you giving that desire to God?

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