Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How About the Heart

Okay, I admit it. I watch The Bachelor. In fact, I've even dragged my husband into it. For the past few weeks, we talked about how much we liked this season because the women (especially the ones at the end) were likable and gracious. And of course, whenever there's someone from my old stomping grounds of Grand Rapids, we like to cheer the hometown girl. 

Coincidentally, this season's finale lined up with the marriage series at our church. A certain phrase has come up in most places that got me thinking. 

Follow Your Heart

This is one of the worst pieces of romantic advice out there. At least, for any one who wants a lasting relationship. Following your heart, as convincingly portrayed by our Bachelor Jason, can often be used as a "get out of jail free" card to give up on a relationship when it becomes difficult, challenging, boring, fill-in-the-blank. The Bible warns us to guard your heart because it influences everything you do (Proverbs 4:23). Not to be preachy, but that's just good advice.

I'm a new parent, so my husband and I often have conversations about our parenting goals and style. One nugget of wisdom that guides my interactions with my son is this: "Whatever you choose to do, ask yourself if you want to keep doing it for the next five years?" The idea is this, my son is watching, and whatever I do, he will do, so I need to make sure that what I'm teaching him is what I want to teach him. 

It's the same with our hearts. If we follow our heart, we're going to be led astray. Instead, we need to lead  our heart. We are human beings, not animals. We have impulses, true, but we also have choice and conscience. 

Back to the parenting thing. How do I teach my son to be nice to others when he doesn't feel like it? Do I tell him to follow his heart? If I do, then his heart is going to tell him to do what he wants, even if it means hurting others. Instead, we teach our children to do the right thing, we applaud them when they do and we discipline them when they don't. That's how they learn to do right, and that's how we learn to lead our heart.

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