Staying True to Self?
- Monday, June 04, 2007
Have you been true to yourself? Do you follow your heart? Do you let your heart lead you? Those are all very common sentiments that are repeated endlessly in today's movies, literature, and music. Just follow your heart. I've heard people give that counsel often. I've heard Christians ask other Christians, "What does your heart tell you?" We live in a society that is pervaded by emotions. We are ruled by the idea that the heart trumps all. At the movie theater we break into stirring applause when the hero defies common sense, rushes headlong into the impossible, and risks everything for a "feeling."
Follow your heart. Is that what you do? Do you encourage your friends and family to do the same? I hope not, because please listen closely: the idea of "following your heart" is, without a doubt, the dumbest, most senseless, most idiotic ideology ever concocted. Honestly, feelings are most definitely NOT our friends. I cannot believe how American culture so readily embraces such an idea.
History is littered with tragedies of those who believed nothing should stop them from pursuing their own happiness. Susan Smith followed her heart. Remember her? She just didn't feel like being a mother anymore, so she did away with the obstacles that blocked her ideas of a happy life. My stomach twists when I think of those poor children. I could give you pages and pages of examples of people who committed heinous crimes in the hopes of finding happiness for themselves. They followed their heart. I suppose I wouldn't get so riled up if this were just a worldly philosophy. But no, even Christians are duped into this line of thinking. "Surely God wants me to be happy ... and doesn't it say that God will give us 'the desires of our heart'?" When you throw selfish ambition and Scripture together, you end up with self-deceived, Scripture-twisting, egotistic blatherings. This may sound sharp, but the danger of the lie that says "follow your heart" needs to be tackled head on. The Psalms tell us that the heart above all else is wicked. The last thing you want to do is "follow it."
I can understand why we, as Christian women (in particular), get sucked into this line of thinking. For most of us, we don't even realize it is a philosophy that we've adopted. The "follow your heart" mantra is everywhere, and it starts when we are very young. Anybody raised on Disney movies can attest to that. It pops up most prevalently in the context of whom a person chooses to marry. Early on, our society is encouraged to think of love, marriage, and relationships in the context of "feelings." I see it constantly in books, Christian or otherwise. The main character always bleats out: "When I marry, I want to marry for love." As if "feelings of love" are superior to the choices of honor, duty, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. Gag. I just hate it. It is such a lie.
All manner of godlessness and perversion have been ushered in on the mantra "I have to be true to who I am; I must follow my heart." What this really means is "I need to follow my desires" or "I need to submit to my lusts." Married men and women will justify leaving their spouse, or their family, in the name of being true to themselves. They believe a lie that says, "I married the wrong person; I will be miserable if I don't follow my heart; I was meant to be with so-and-so." When you look at the modern sentiment of marrying for love and compare it with the current divorce rate, I don't believe it is coincidental. Love is not self-serving. It always looks to the welfare of others. But the word "love" in America seems to mean "the object that stirs my emotions and makes me feel giddy/worthwhile/beautiful/important, etc." It's a very selfish love that is based on "how we feel."
One of the few movies that I like is Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. It does a marvelous job comparing two sisters with two different ideas of love. The younger sister is controlled by her emotions and feels superior for having "deep feeling." The older sister is more reserved. She feels deeply; however, she is not rash, and her emotions are ruled by self-control rather than passion. It is a great case study. While the story is purely fiction, it perfectly sums up the common outcomes of choices based on passions versus self-control.
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