They Do Exist.

Your Emotions And Your Heart Are Not Your Enemies

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by a man who is very dear to me, Bob Hamp. He married me and my husband this year, and is author of Think Differently, Live Differently. His book will change your life. My whole life, I believed that I could not trust my heart. That it was a thing to be hidden, feared, and ‘fixed’ by my righteous life. I believed that what is right and wrong would make God more proud of me, that I would be a better daughter, a better reflection of Jesus. It wasn’t until I understood this, what Bob writes about, that I fell in love with God – and in so doing, found my purpose, my life, and my joy. – Lauren

I cannot count the number of soul-sick people I have spoken to who have allowed their heart to slide into numbness, or death, and even in some cases, tried to strangle their heart. And all this in the name of serving the God who put their heart in them in the first place. The trap comes easily when we read scripture piecemeal, and or when we read through the lenses of certain religious dogma.

Jeremiah 17:9 declares firmly, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” So we read and jump to the conclusion that our heart is an obstacle to be overcome and an enemy to be defeated.

This idea is fed by the commonly held and taught mantra that Christians often repeat. “Your emotions will lie to you!” we warn one another. And with these two ideas, we go into one of the most deadly places we can, we retreat into denial. We bury, swallow, repress our heart and all of its attendant responses and connections.

The problem is, what do we do then with the verse in Proverbs 4:23 that tells us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life”? What if, in the name of serving God, we completely repress that part of us, which is designed to be the headwaters of the life of God Himself? Let me answer the “what if?” question. Stifle your heart, and one day it will lead to a collapse that Isaiah 30 describes as a breach in a wall, whose collapse comes suddenly and in an instant. Try to stifle the waters of a river, and one day the waters will overpower the very dam constructed to hold them back, and the waters intended to bring life can bring, instead, destruction.

The truth is, YOUR EMOTIONS WILL NOT LIE TO YOU. Your emotions will, in fact, always tell you the truth about what you believe (Proverbs 23:7). It is the lies that cause negative emotions, not the other way around. If you ignore your emotions because you have been told it is a Godly thing to do, you will miss out on a God-given indicator to help you know what exactly is hidden in this mysterious heart of yours. Like the flashing light on your dashboard, your emotions are a signal to indicate to you a belief that exists somewhere under the hood.

Let’s examine the setup, and then the solution.

The setup begins with the fall of man (as does every other human struggle). Adam and Eve discover their nakedness. Their newly engorged knowledge of evil informs them of their condition, and they look down and feel shame. The problem is compounded when their knowledge of good tells them what they should do about the ‘evil’ their minds perceive. Their knowledge of good tells them to hide. Whether it is fig leaves, Eden’s shrubbery, or their outright blame of everyone but themselves, Adam and Eve begin a complex set of defenses to numb the pain of their shame and their knowledge of evil.

Hence, years later, after David in the Psalms has referred to “the inward parts” of our heart, or our “hidden places”, Jeremiah can rightly tell us that the heart is deceitful and wicked. He then asks and answers the question, “Who can know it?” Who, indeed, Jerry tells us, God Himself searches and responds to what He finds in the hidden heart. But Jeremiah refers to the condition of the heart in the moment of his writing. What he does not do is write prophetically about God’s intent to do something about that condition. That privilege comes later to Ezekiel, who tells us in Ezekiel 11:19 that a day is coming when God Himself will remove the heart of stone and replace it with a soft heart, a heart of flesh. In other words, Ezekiel tells of a day which is coming (and is now here) when God will replace the desperately sick with the new creation.

Salvation is God giving us a new nature, not a new set of expectations. When Jesus comes into your heart, it is a new and regenerate heart that He enters.

At this point, we have so often partnered with the ‘hiddenness’ of our hearts that we turn our eyes away. We strangle our hearts with sin, and then after our salvation we often strangle our hearts with the guilt and shame of believing we are still desperately wicked. Now, whether it be fig leaves or religious dogma, we still run and hide, afraid that if we look at our hearts we will again be flooded with shame and fear.

The result? The heart is no longer wicked, but it remains a hidden thing. The heart is deceitful not in the sense that it is a wicked liar, but in the sense that we have been trained by life, fear and church life, to remain covered up. The key difference is that if we look now, and ask the One who knows it to begin to show us our new hearts, we would actually begin to discover the regenerating power of the resurrection has been at work in our own hearts. Sure, we might struggle a bit as we look at the layers of darkness we have wrapped around our heart, but the fundamental truth of our salvation is that God has put a new heart in us. If you are willing to look, He is willing to show you.

Here is the bottom line. It is in and through our hearts that we connect to, and receive from God. Hence we should tend to our hearts above all else, because when it is properly attached to its source it will be in us the headwaters of living water. When we bury it and choke it off because we have only read Jeremiah’s description, we choke out the very life-giving, revelation-producing presence and voice of God. When we do that, all we are left with is our knowledge of good and evil.

Try this if you dare. Pray this simple, yet courageous prayer.

“God, if you show me, I will look.”

For more on this topic click here and scroll to the bottom to the audio entitled “The Hidden Heart”.

Also, read “The Journey of Desire” by John Eldredge.


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21 Responses

  1. Commentor

    Lauren, do you purposely pick the sluttiest, most scantily clad women for the photos to these articles or what?

    Men (and others) can’t respect you if you can’t even respect yourself.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

    • John

      I’m a guy, and when I see the types of pictures Lauren chooses to post I see raw emotions expressed by actual women. “Scantily clad women” are not inherently disrespectful, and in this case strive to show the work of beauty made by God. The tastefulness of art work is not measured by the modesty of of the people in it. Keep posting real articles Lauren, and keep showing artwork that is emotionally revealing.

      January 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

    • Melissa

      Commentor, I feel as though your comment was not only rude and assumptious, but poorly placed. If you were to follow the conflict resolution example in Matthew 18, you might have chosen to send Lauren a private message, rather than making your disdain so public. If I could message you privately I would.

      Lauren, I have never felt offended by the images you use.

      January 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      • Commentor

        Melissa,

        Why would you be offended? According to a Relevant Magazine article (as was posted on CNN as well), 80% of young Christian evangelicals aren’t virgins when they marry — that’s very telling about the rest of the denominations as well.

        I believe that statistic was only 10% different than those who hold atheistic beliefs.

        Just go with the flow like everyone else. Then you’ll end up here, among the brokenwomenproject (with some really helpful advice).

        Oh, and unsolicited advice is unwelcome.

        January 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm

        • Andria

          Here’s the citation you failed to post:

          http://www.relevantmagazine.com/digital-issue/53

          It starts on page 67. If you’re going to use an article to make a point, you could at least provide a link to the content so readers can see for themselves that it doesn’t actually support your argument.

          January 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      • When I saw the image, I thought the same thing as Commentor. This site is mainly for women, but it could really cause a man to stumble and we should respect that. Romans 14 all the way. And I'm a girl, too. I've just learned a lot about how guys think….

        January 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm

        • Commentor

          Kelsey, it’s the man’s fault he ‘stumbles,’ not the woman’s.

          Not to make an even bigger deal out of this (it’s only a photo), I just wanted Lauren (the blog owner) to notice this.

          Why? Because I have sisters. And I don’t want them looked at like pieces of meat by a society of sex-crazed animals — it appears some don’t know that it isn’t appropriate to walk around in a bikini (or not far from it) in most places that demand social interaction — complaining raises the standard, which is what I hope to do here.

          January 7, 2012 at 12:59 am

          • As a woman, I take a lot of responsibility for the stumbling of a brother in Christ and I think we all need to. Guys may struggle with pornography more, but girls struggle with committing pornography. I don't condemn Laura for posting the photograph, but it IS something we need to keep in mind. We shouldn't just be protecting our own hearts in purity, but the hearts of those around us as well. Just throwing that out there.

            January 12, 2012 at 4:35 am

  2. God is so awesome!! After struggling for a while with my heart and thinking it was my enemy, God has slowly been showing me that it's not my enemy at all. Thank you for posting this. :)

    January 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

  3. Wow, commentator…I saw that picture as representing freedom, filled with life….it's hard for me to really know much about the persons character from that image….
    I hope that the post was meaningful to you as well….

    January 5, 2012 at 10:40 am

  4. alyn10

    Wow, thank you for posting this. I"ve been waiting anxiously for this months topic, and low and behold, this post is about something i've been thinking about and I actually came to the same conclusion that when Jesus comes into your heart he makes it new and therfore only His good can come from it. Thanks again for posting.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

  5. anonymous

    I wish the author would've taken care to cover more bases here. What he says definitely applies to those of us who have been raised to stifle emotions; we shoudln't deny our right to feel, I agree.

    But I picture myself a few years ago thinking "But I love him!" and reading this, then jumping to the conclusion that my feeling isn't a lie.. therefore my behavior is condoned! This must be the truth! God wants this! (Can you imagine a woman in an abusive relationship saying that??)

    The point that emotions are only an indicator of what we BELIEVE but aren't ready to ACKNOWLEDGE – that should have been emphasized way more! You know there are people reading this who are looking for an affirmation that the way they feel now is not a lie but the Truth. As much as we want to believe it, emotions are NOT an indicator of Truth, but only of the way we think of a situation, person, good book… Liking a cup of coffee doesn't make it any Truer, does it?

    January 7, 2012 at 6:18 am

  6. This post spoke to me very much! Thank you Bob! And I found some of your freedom messages on the link from this post; they are so awesome. It is easy to see how God has gifted you to speak these messages!!!! I needed this.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:55 am

    • Crystal…I am glad you found those…we want to make those as available as possible…Thanks for your kind words

      January 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm

  7. Tonna

    This was an amazing post that spoke right to me. Thank you so much!

    January 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

  8. deliamk

    Recently I asked God what He wanted me to do in this season in my life. He said, "What is in your heart to do?" It surprised me, because I too had been taught to not always trust my heart. God said, because my heart was His and turned toward Him, I could follow what was in my heart to do. I did and I can hardly describe how happy, free, and fulfilled I feel at this time in my life.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  9. BMP

    This is amazing. Truly a word in season. THANK YOU!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

  10. Jessica

    I’m just wondering if someone can explain the use of proverbs 23:7 in this article. I read it and it seems out of context to the topic. I loved this article and shared it with a friend who questioned the biblical basis for this article so I’m trying to figure it out myself. Thanks!

    They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it. (Proverbs 23:7 NLT)

    March 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

  11. mary_kay

    Wow this is really helpful and insightful, thank you.

    October 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

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