Straight to the Heart

This morning, as most mornings go, I was in my room reading my Bible and my youngest came in, complaining about his brother’s selfishness and how he wouldn’t return something that belonged to him.
He then proceeded to tell me that his brother threw the piece at him and that made him so mad that he retaliated with some cutting words.

The crux of the problem resided in my youngest’s heart; to him, the grievance rested solely at his brother’s feet, and he wanted to know what I was going to do about it. But as I pointed out his own words and actions–lack of patience, mean response, etc.–I told him that nothing was going to change on his end as long as he saw his brother as the enemy and not as someone to love. For he has had major combat with self-restraining his tongue.

Then God plopped this verse into my mind: “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). At this point, said brother had also entered the room and I engaged him in the conversation, “What does that mean?” Neither really knew.

“It means that your words aren’t decided in the heat of the moment. They are already there…in your heart, just waiting to be spoken. If your heart is putrid and unloving toward a person, your words will be too.” Especially since none of my children possess the ability to be flatterers or fakes.

Every sin struggle we encounter has a heart issue at its core.

Craig Groeschel puts it this way: “A while back I made a solemn vow that I would stop obsessing over texts and emails. I decided that anytime I heard the bing indicating I had received a message, I would not feel the urgency to check immediately. And when I did, I would not reread and reread what the other person wrote. I would not rewrite and rewrite my response. […] Not only did my vow not last; I didn’t even start!

“The problem with how we attack our problems is that we go after the problem. We focus solely on the behavior by making a commitment to start or stop something. […] Behavior modification doesn’t work, because the focus is only on modifying behavior. You don’t get to the root of the problem, which is the thought that produces the behavior. To be more specific, the problem is the neural pathway that leads you there.

“Well, if we decided, I’m going to stop yelling at my kids or I’m going to stop isolating myself and living a lonely life or I’m going to exercise every day, we’re just sawing off a branch of the tree. We aren’t getting rid of the whole problem–the real problem of the lie we believe and the mental rut we fall into. Attacking only symptoms, not the source.” (Winning the War in Your Mind).

Corbin’s heart issues have erupted to the surface lately; he feels insecure and unloved. He is resentful of our current situation and angry at me for moving him. He thinks if we were just at our old house, all would be well and he would feel settled. He believes–erroneously–that he is unwanted and everyone’s least favorite child. He thinks life is hardest for him. He worries. He grieves. He feels bombarded by parental correction. (Incidentally, because of his ADD, I do have to help ‘refocus’ him a lot more than I do the other two kids).

Until he chooses–with the Holy Spirit’s help and parental guidance–the path of truth and life, he will continue to allow those lies to dictate his attitude and his perspective. His filter has become rather fuzzy with deceptive beliefs. And his heart isn’t healthy. Out of the overflow…

I am not much different. I would like to say that 4 decades of living has matured me, but sometimes I fall back into these negative false beliefs that make me feel like people see me as dumb or incompetent or too intense.

And with addictive ruts (either in behavior or thinking), if we don’t address the heart of the matter, we are just shuffling around to another addiction. I know plenty of people who man-power their will into “stopping” something, but what often happens–without the major heart work–is that addiction they are squelching will just manifest itself somewhere else (whether it’s alcohol, exercise, social media, food, or porn).

Perhaps this illustration doesn’t help you, but for me, it’s like decluttering a closet. If the item isn’t helpful or needed and is a mere distraction to my main purpose in life, then moving the junk to another closet isn’t the same as getting rid of it. We have to move it out of the house altogether.

Praying that we can all do the hard–but worthwhile–work of decluttering our hearts and minds from lies that keep us bound up in unhealthy patterns. God has something much better for you and for me.

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