Follow your heart, and do what makes you happy.
People offered me this advice countless times while I was growing up. They said it was the secret recipe to living a pleasurable, joyful life. This creed to finding happiness was to be found everywhere—whatever I read, watched, and listened to. Needless to say, my impressionable mind soaked in it.
So I followed my heart—and dived straight into a whirlpool of destructive choices. I pursued romantic relationships, casting aside prudence and warnings because I was desperate to be with somebody. I let my heart’s desires and pride take precedence over others, and hurt my friends in the process.
It didn’t help that the culture I grew up in was inclined to follow our sentiments. It was easy for me to sway from one compromise to another, driven purely by the emotions that movies, music, or certain individuals evoked in me. I allowed my feelings to steer my judgments and to determine my actions. That took me onto a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I chased and dropped people, ran after achievements and things, and went after the world’s applause. It was an insane ride that carved a big hole in my soul. I wasn’t sure who I was becoming. I was destroying myself, bit by bit.
I felt trapped, lost, and confused. The irony was that the pain I felt led me to more irrational decisions and even more suffering. My own heart piloted me to ruin; it didn’t occur to me that it was not reliable when it came to what was good and true; I had presumed it would point me to real happiness.
In the end, after an extensive stint in the department of self-inflicted pain, I realized: My heart was not dependable.
Who Knows Our Hearts?
Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
With my unenviable past in the backdrop, this verse spoke truth to my weakened soul when I first read it. It showed me that as the heart was deceitful and wicked, following it wouldn’t be a wise prescription if I wanted to live a meaningful, happy life. So, if I couldn’t trust my heart, what could I trust? What or whom could I turn to for guidance?
Psalm 37:4 and Luke 10:27 offered answers: Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Love Him with all of yourself—your heart, your soul, your strength, and your mind. These were the missing components in the creed I had been subscribing to. I realized that only God could truly know my heart. When I learned to cherish Him with all of myself and take pleasure in Him (which I learned through consistently spending time with Him), He became my heart, and His desires, my desires. I began to long for righteous things and to seek to honor Him in all that I did.
Before this, I had been foolish. I had let my heart, with its own fleeting and fickle appetites, lead me into making all kinds of decisions and choices that left me scarred. Although there were moments when I felt happy chasing my own fleshly inclinations and doing what I wanted, the happiness was always short-lived, and in the end, I always felt acutely empty. A big vacuum had settled in my soul that I didn’t know how to fill.
But now, in grasping how to delight myself in God more and more, I have discovered that I am enjoying His presence above all else. Now, I not only find life more pleasurable, but the emptiness that I used to feel has vanished. In its place I find an overflow of love, joy, and happiness, because my satisfaction now rests in the Lord.
Adore the Lord first and above all. Let Him reign supreme in your heart. Let your contentment be found in Him alone. Let His glory be your utmost goal. Only then will following your heart make you truly happy.
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