We're currently in a conversation called "The Way of the Heart" where we're looking at the ways our inner lives affect our outer-self and world. Here are some thoughts from our very own Gina Norman!
The Heart of the Matter: A Closer Look at Why We Do What We Do by Gina Norman
Looking directly into our hearts is no easy task, and let me tell you, it IS a task, and a daunting one. We need to find the courage to start, and that courage and strength is never too far away: David told Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
Heart journeying is very specific work, we won’t ever want to look back, we’ll only want to keep looking into our very hearts, more and more, wider and wider, deeper and deeper, because that is where we’ll discover our truest selves, [our “new man” that God gives us, that new creation that's talked about in the Gospel:
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come".
We were meant to step into this reality and live, so that we can become whole, and starting journeying through our hearts is the way TO that "new person hood".
And in Matthew 5:48 “BE PERFECT AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT”.
Through studying this verse, it simply means to be holy as your Father in heaven is holy. And holy? Means becoming whole. It’s being as whole as possible while walking through life on earth, but because of all that is broken in this world and in our hearts, we are wounded. That leaves us very "stuck". We tend to feel conflicted, confused, angry, sad, rejected, etc. . . as a shocking result to what has happened to us, and also choices we've made. Thing is, is, most of us don’t know HOW or WHERE to even start with our hearts!
We need to find out what’s hiding in the crevices of our very own heart.
Why we think what we think, then feel the way we do, and then act the way we do? It's all a lot to grasp and comprehend.
For starters, hurts from our upbringings, emotional pain from dissolved or troubled relationships, or trauma from abuses all add up if unaddressed and find a hideaway deep within the nooks and crannies of our hearts. Verbal abuses, stuff we're taught in schools and churches that tend to break us spiritually, mentally and even physically.
The toll life has taken on us leave massive wounds if you will, and it’s there, in looking directly in, that you’ll see that these wounds need tending too, the wounds have led to disruptive, negative and even untrue thoughts! And if our feelings are generated from our thought life, we must have work to do in our minds--the main place to start IS our thoughts! As we give attention, care and the time these wounds deserve, this will eventually lead us into healing.
Discovering WHAT, WHERE, HOW AND WHY THE WOUNDS ARE THERE IS KEY.
BTW, our thoughts and feelings make up our HEARTS--and all thoughts and feelings are are what's taken place our whole lives up to this point: anything from beliefs that experiences, trauma, pictures in our minds, memories, family, culture, class, education, illnesses and much more. All of it, a huge complicated pile of HEART STUFF, if you will, that has accumulated. Compiled from all that was and all that is in our lives. People, places and things.
Here's the thing: some of the beliefs are TRUE, and some of them ARE NOT. The trouble lies in the "ARE NOT'S".
We don't have to operate, or behave out of these hiding wounds, the valves will pump new thoughts, new feelings and eventually new behaviors. In this hide -n-seek game with your heart, you’ll see what has been causing-- (BLOCKING) this valve that has kept you from not being able to enter into your newness, and the old self will start to disappear. I think we are in need of heart transplants. Wouldn’t you agree? Life is just so much more comfortable with what we are familiar with, such as perspectives we hold dear, even though they may not be healthy for us, or behaviors that make us feel good, no matter how dysfunctional they may be. Once we, in humility admit we don't know it all or have all the right answers, we can surrender to listening. Listening to ourselves in new ways, others and most importantly, God.
How can you tell if YOU need a heart transplant? How will you know from day to day, week to week? Pay attention to every little thing that doesn’t or wouldn’t line up with God. If you are thinking negatively, if a thought throws you off, or doesn't "sit" well with you, wonder about it. Scan your thought life and look for patterns, observe what’s in there and start to ponder those thoughts.
“Hmmm interesting, wonder what that means?”
“Interesting, I wonder why you’re there thought..”
“Hmmm that’s odd, why would I think that?”
Think about your think, and the thoughts that jarr you, or upset you, or send you into “icky” feelings….THAT’S what you’re looking for. That’s what you want to pay attention to, because it’s those feelings that cause our behaviors. And it all starts with a thought.
So do you feel jealous? Do you feel less than? Do you feel fat and ugly? Do you feel worthless? Do you feel unsuccessful and purposeless? All of those feelings are attached to a thought. Find it. Because, we know that “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Isn’t that an indication to change the way we are thinking, so that our feelings will shift, and eventually change the way we are behaving? We want an internal shift so we can have an external shift. All is NOT right in our world, even if we think it is. That is, if it's "tripping" us up.
As Christians and in Christian atmosphere’s we’ve probably picked up through the years that we “need” and “should” do these things that the bible says, and we do long to live God’s Word, but a good portion of the time, we are hurting from our pasts, stuck in our ways, or thinking we are right, indignant, or in survival mode, and we simply cannot DO God’s Word, even if we are in the truest sense believers. Not only the missing piece, BUT HE BIGGEST MISSING PIECE of living a contented, peaceful, "new" life is our hearts. I would imagine that’s why God talked about our hearts so often. Upon discovering that it’s what lies within that makes it’s way out, is nothing short of new found freedom.
So many of us “feel” awful in so many ways. We want change. But how?
When we are brave enough to crack our hearts wide open and face what we find there, how it got there and why it’s still there, we’ll find ourselves on the life long journey of becoming more like our Maker.
David was a man after God’s own heart. What did that mean? What does that look like in our lives? It simply means that our lives are in harmony with God. And our hearts are where that begins! We start to change from the inside out as we heal what hurts.
That is indeed what God looks at and is after, that’s why Jesus said,
“If you even look at woman and lust you’ve committed adultery”.
What!?? He doesn’t want us to objectify women! He was so ahead of His time, what a feminist! I just love this! He is constantly taking it a step further, one step, a hundred steps ahead of us. He simply knows that if our hearts our addressed, if we looks into our hearts, and finds out why we lust, gain a new perspective, or change our thoughts about someone/something, he can apply Truth to that “reason” and change the thought patterns, which then changes how we will view whatever we are lusting, which then will take root and shape our “new heart”. We'll walk more free in this "new personhood" that we've been given. DISCLAIMER: struggles don’t cease, but you become more and more free and will be equipped to handle.
Insofar as we examine, search--- Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” and Psalm 26:2 “Examine my heart and mind God…”and inevitably address and deal with our hidden hurts in our hearts, we’ll only be living from mere wounds, and not living, from our God given newness. We need heart transplants, because it’s the greatest success rate for accessing who we really, truly are.
The more we tend to our hearts and the wounds within-- which all a wound is is some kind of brokenness. I think what can happen sometimes when we become christians, a certain behavior we have or struggle we have, doesn’t go away right away. Sometimes it “never” goes away, we keep struggling with it, the whole “thorn in my side issue like Paul mentioned…” One of the many struggles I had for a long time was rage.
I knew Jesus didn’t have rage, so what could I do to get “rid” of it. I actually had so much anger, that it became rage. After I had given my life to Christ, I wasn’t “getting better” and that confused me. But see I needed to find out what was underneath the rage, underneath the anger, and the way I discovered that was through examining my heart. I found the wounds of my anger and boy did I address them! I questioned and analyzed every thought that didn’t match up with God, and then pounded it out even further by holding it up like a diamond in the light--looking at all the angles of it.
“Well if I’m jealous because SHE’S pregnant, to the point of me feeling bitter which then led to ignoring her and not congratulating her, that doesn’t seem like a spirit filled thing or something Jesus would do. That seems like it’s my ego or flesh. But why am I jealous? Because I WANT a baby with my husband! Ok, well why can’t I get pregnant?” AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. There’s a rabbit trail. We need to get on it.
I tackled it and asked it so many questions that by the end of the questions, there WAS an answer! The answer is most usually our WOUND.
Today I can say I’m basically fully healed from my rage and haven’t had an episode in years. It’s not enough to “just believe”, God made us free agents in this world, so we will be attacked by others free wills and therefore experience intense pain and trauma. Our hearts hold it all.
If we aren’t operating out of Christ’s love and living in that new person as believers, we are new creations after all, it’s because we are operating and living out of a wound, something that has hurt us, big or small that have left us still bleeding still. It’s time to stop the bleeding. We need the wherewithal to be ABLE to live in more freedom. We can heal the hurt, even if what has happened to us is wrong, unfair and disgusting in the most strongest sense of the word.
A note on "false beliefs": with these unattended wounds come false beliefs--we start to believe something about something that has happened to us. These false beliefs end up behaving more like actual truths, and that’s why we think and act the way we do. The false beliefs SHAPE our thinking, feeling and doing! If we identify the false belief for what it is, FALSE, and replace that with truth, we’ll start becoming free.
By approaching our thought patterns, our feelings and recognizing our behaviors, we’ll be able to start our journey inward and eventually outwardly live in more peace. We can get creative too with how we replace a thought, for a thought! By taking our thoughts to "school" we school our thoughts! Ask it them things like "Oh ya, who said so??" Looking for evidence for a thought is pretty incredible.
Replacing a TRUE THOUGHT with a not so true thought, one that doesn't hold any water, is exhilarating actually. It gives us a lot of control when we've felt so out OF control.
THOUGHTS FEELINGS & BEHAVIORS all work together in how they, we, operate and it’s when we start there, we’re able to explore our hearts more thoroughly.
But we’ve got to look inside these big beautiful hearts of ours! Face what’s there, stop sweeping it under the rug, and look at it all straight on. Be honest with ourselves about not being in alignment with our Savior. There may be parts that do, like the desire one might have, but how is that desire coming through? What are the thoughts and feelings that are occurring in any particular situation? Are they good? Pure? Noble? Trustworthy? Some questions to consider.
Some scripture on thoughts on the heart:
1 Sam 16:7