This heart of mine is really something, and as much as I love it, it can really suck. Let me elaborate.
As I understand, feelings and emotions are all matters of the heart. And I said this last time and I’ll say it again. My feelings and emotions will have me everywhere and nowhere all at once.
For me, there isn’t a problem of emotional access. My counseling program has been great for that; I’m extra aware of my feelings. My trouble comes in with emotional management.
Like my favorite hymn says, my heart is “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
I access these strong feelings, especially for people, and I am challenged with how to steward these feelings, challenged by what they lead me to think, say, and do. It’s like I can end up desiring things that I didn’t even realize I wanted. A friend described it to me like this—I’ll paraphrase.
“It’s like when someone brings you a cupcake when you’re not hungry. In the moment, you weren’t even thinking about the cupcake, but since it’s been offered and you’re there and you know that cupcakes are enjoyable, you say to yourself, ‘I haven’t had a cupcake in a while… this might be nice… sure, why not?!’”
In my experience, sometimes I do want a cupcake, and sometimes, I legitimately do not want a cupcake. The desire for the cupcake only comes extrinsically and retroactively after it is brought before me. If the cupcake had never come around, I would have never started wanting it. I’d have never even thought about it.
Clearly, I’m not actually talking about cupcakes. I’m talking about relationships with people and commitments to things outside of myself. I’m talking about my wandering heart that keeps on wanting to leave God for other people and other things. It can even do this when I am as content and peaceable as I can be, and then someone can come around and say or do something that jolts me out of my peaceful contentment and into more wandering.
I hate this! This is why my heart can really suck.
Sometimes, I wish managing these emotions and feelings weren’t so demanding. I wish I could just feel a little less so that I would not be so inclined to disregard my faith, ignore my common sense, and make decisions that I know are less than wise. I wish my heart didn’t compel me so strongly to settle, particularly when it comes to love, sex, and relationships.
As much as I can hate my feelings, I don’t want to throw them away either. I know that my feelings themselves aren’t bad; there is often legitimacy for what I desire. I just don’t know what my heart is capable of, and I believe that God knows what my heart is capable of doing, much more than I do.
Also, the counselor in me says, “Validate those feelings!” especially since so many folks spend a lot of time and energy ignoring and imprisoning their emotions deep inside, to the point of their own dysfunction and demise.
Taken together, I am continuing to negotiate the practice of setting boundaries for myself. I know that certain metaphorical cupcakes will come around and have me deep in my feelings. I’ve certainly made mistakes along the way, and I’ve been humbled by them. Still, I tug on God’s grace to guard my heart, wander in bounds, and use these feelings and emotions for the good and right stuff.
And the boundaries are great, especially when I see them work. For as many moments as I have had feelings that were leading me down the wrong paths, I have also had the feelings, facts, and faith align in congruence within the boundaries, and take me down some amazingly right paths, and it’s just right. In many ways, the boundaries protect and preserve my life.
This is why I believe that the more I humbly recognize how much this heart of mine is capable of all kinds of stuff and yield it to God, the more He will renew me from the inside out, fill me full of love, and satisfy me with the right people and things.
So I’ll just keep singing my favorite hymn, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above” because I mean every word of it.
Love Love Love,