follow your heart, but take your brain with you.

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I have often found myself at the crossroad.

Decisions can be extremely liberating, or completely paralyzing. My heart seems to be very clear on the direction of my life, but my brain continually interrupts my progress.

Arguments and alternative options.

I want to make my decisions based on what my heart is saying without experiencing some kind of guilt that I am being reckless.

                 Open your heart but do not let your brain fall out. (Christin Hassler)

 I think the heart is brutally honest, but the fear of social rejection shuts it down. I force myself to become mute and deaf to the cries of my soul.

Why do we allow this imprisonment of our hearts? Why do we hem ourselves in, and allow our circumstances to dictate our lives?

Maybe the tug of war starts because it is so easy to persuade our minds to be tactful and socially appropriate, while our hearts yearn to break the rules and disrupt the dysfunctional systems around us. I tried to find clarity in scripture but I found myself toggling between the mind and the heart.

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

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I am encouraged to trust God with my heart, but at the same time I have to wait on God to renew my mind so that I can see clearer. I know that there is scientific research that shows a clear connection between the heart and the brain, but what does that mean for me as a Christian?  How does the connection benefit me?

Looking back at my journey, I remember a time when I suffered physical symptoms that was directly connected to my mental state. Times of stress brought with it headaches, disrupted sleeping patterns and heart palpitations.  When my heart was awakening, it unlocked emotions that took me out of my comfort zone.  I was uncomfortable.  I feared that if I allowed myself to feel, my judgement would be impaired, that I would not be able to make clear decisions.  It was way easier to apply my mind than to listen to my heart.

It took me a long time (and I had to endure a lot of misery) to realize that I have been ignoring the messages from my heart since childhood. I wrote the truth in my diaries, but I failed to express it to an outside audience.  My heart actually shocked me…with feelings of anger, revenge, frustration and self-pity.  I found that the deeper I tuned into the expressions of my heart, the more intense the feelings became.  I literally jailed my heart for most of my life.  When I released myself from that jail, I experienced intense pain, I also became more self-aware and I realised that I had hurt many people while I was existing in a semi-comatose state.

When I allowed the real connection between my heart and my mind, I started to experience a sense of clarity. Something on the inside of me started to steer my life in a different direction.

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May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

 When I started living according to the instructions of my heart, opportunities opened up in my life. I was no longer constrained by fear of rejection and failure.  I left my old life behind, and embarked on a journey that could not be strategized by my mind.

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. (Steve Jobs)

You do have to follow you heart, otherwise you’re living a false life. (Eric Mabius)

My writing, like everything I do, comes profoundly from my heart. I believe that if you follow your heart you will be successful in one way or another.  Old-fashioned as that might sound, the philosophy is true.  (Kim Elizabeth)

Listen to the music of your own heart and trust the passion that flows within every note. (Unknown)

Listen to the promptings of the heart a little more, and listen to the complaints of the mind a little less. (Senora Roy)

A good heart is better than all the heads in the world. (Robert Bulwer-Lytton)

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But…can I really trust my heart? Scripture states that the human heart is full of deceit, that I have inherited a sinful nature…

 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

But I learned that I can trust Christ. Through Him I am a new creation.  He did not fix my heart, He replaced it with a new one.

My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.  (Proverbs 23:26)

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

 I want to be authentic, real and truthful. That is part of the reason that I wanted to tell my story through writing.  I wanted to demolish the barriers between my heart and the outside world.  I want to express my feelings without inhibitions.  I want to give people the freedom to speak to me without feeling they should edit the truth.

The function of freedom is to free someone else. (Toni Morrison)

 If I tell my story through the clothes I am wearing, through the pictures on my walls (and this includes my Facebook wall), through my own vulnerability – I give other people permission to do the same.

For too long did I silence my heart. I suffered.  I grieved alone.  God liberated me, He showed me a way to listen.  His Spirit whispered instructions to my heart.  He gave me empathy, for myself and for others.  He created space in my life, He enables me daily to listen to the stories of others, without any prejudice.  He gave me peace.

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Be a witness, not a judge. Focus on yourself, not on others.  Listen to your heart, not the crowd. (Unknown)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? (Job 9:4)

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)

I do not know where you find yourself today, but I trust that my words will push you in the direction of your heart.

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Encouragement for April

  1. Embrace change, be flexible and construct your own individual story. You are not powerless.
  2. Surround yourself with people that will inspire you.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on your own God given talents and gifts.
  4. Look at life through a positive lens, add value!
  5. Be brave and make your own choices.
  6. Take responsibility for your own actions.

Dedication

Stories matter. Many stories matter.  Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.  Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

 I want to dedicate this article to every person that is brave enough to tell their story. For those that opened a door for me…Thank you for changing the way I think.  Thank you for giving me a voice.  Thank you for helping me to make sense of my own journey.  You showed me that I took my heart for granted.  After my ears heard the story of my heart, the door to healing was opened.  I am forever grateful.

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