“The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
“Follow your heart,” the purveyors of good advice will tell you. They’ll mean well when they say it, probably. They’ll be trying to free you from unhealthy societal strictures and parental expectations and inner voices. But what if your heart is perverse, like Jeremiah says? What if it wants terrible things? Or what if it just wants a new thing, like, every other week?
“Listen to your gut,” they’ll tell you. They’ll have good intentions, probably. They’ll be trying to free you from self-doubt and gaslighting and bullies and narcissists. But what if you’re white, and your gut is racist against your will and without your knowledge, and what if it warns you of danger at all the wrong times?
“Trust your instincts,” they’ll tell you. They’ll be trying to keep people from pulling the wool over your eyes. But most of your instincts were put into your brain a million years ago, when the best options were often running really fast or ripping something’s throat out. These days, fight or flight are good options in a very limited number of situations, and almost none of them are going to present themselves at work tomorrow.
Honestly, I just don’t think innards are all that trustworthy. Maybe yours are. Maybe one day mine will be. Until then, I’m trying to follow Jesus instead of my heart. Instead of my gut, I’m trying to listen to the prophets, both dead and living. I’m trying to ignore my twitchy and erratic instincts, and instead put my trust in a steady God.
Oh God, give me your heart, your hunger, your steady hand. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.