“Left to my own direction, my heart is a compass that guides me toward passions and pleasures. But God is the true compass, guiding me along His ultimate path for me, changing my heart and renewing my mind in the process. My heart is a broken instrument, so how can I possibly trust its direction? Only God is trustworthy to lead me” (Claire Gibson, She Reads Truth).
A snapshot of my heart…
In college, I fell for this guy that “I thought” was great for me. Honestly, not many thoughts were behind my decision. Feelings and hormones ruled. And in the process of getting my heart hurt, I realized something profound. Emotions are misleading. I know, epiphany, right? Well, I allowed the experience to carve some false beliefs into my mind.
One: happiness is for others. Acceptance and love is for others. Not you.
Two: You aren’t worth much.
My emotions and the immature flirtations of a 20-something boy formed some beliefs that changed my mind about who I was and what I thought I deserved (or didn’t, as the case was).
As college progressed and I “just knew” I was going to leave without getting my M.R.S., I told my mom, “There’s nobody there for me.” At that point, I was tired of “settling,” but figured all the good guys were already taken. And then, Aaron came along.
Our relationship brought more awareness to my subconscious beliefs and allowed healing to overturn my heart’s toxic thoughts. My mind had altered how I viewed myself and where I thought my value rested. It wasn’t in relationships, it was secured in the God who created me, regardless of who chose to love me or not. Sadly, I still lose sight of that truth at times, but it’s always there for the resting.
I am who I am, not who I feel I am:
Over the years, friends and family members have called out my erroneous thinking and tried to help me replace it with truth (not what my emotions or experiences seem to dictate is “true”). We need to stop allowing our feelings to lead. As Lysa Terkeurst says, “Emotions should indicate, not dictate.” We need to evaluate our emotions and be willing to clean out and reset based on the absolutes of God’s truth.
“The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
In 1952, Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking, impacting millions with his message of healthy mental habits. “Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate” (Peale).
Mind over heart:
Although Peale rooted his ideas in Scriptural truth, psychology hadn’t quite caught up to the power of the mind as an influence on the brain and body. He said, “We are beginning to comprehend a basic truth hitherto neglected, that our physical condition is determined very largely by our emotional condition, and our emotional life is profoundly regulated by our thought life.”
Sadly, too many people give up when their emotions do. If they don’t feel like persevering, than they determine that they shouldn’t continue. If they don’t feel like loving, they won’t. If they don’t feel like serving, they quit. If they don’t feel warmth toward a person, they choose not to forgive, because after all, the endeavor wouldn’t be genuine…right? Our emotions may gauge where we estimate we’re at, but they are not an accurate reading on truth. Thankfully, truth anchors outside our feelings. When we choose to believe that which doesn’t match our feelings, our emotions will eventually catch up, and we’ll be all the better for it. Because we are no longer trying to live a parallel, but sometimes toxic, existence to the reality of what God has granted us (freedom and joy in Christ).
The power of our minds:
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, has traveled the world trying to equip people to utilize their thinking to perform brain surgery and drastically improve their lives. Check out her research below in this TED talk.