Your Cheatin’ Heart

After missing a week–can’t ignore the day job(s)–here is the ninth in a lovely list of ten lessons essential for every high school graduate preparing to venture out into the “real world.” While Elaine Bransford, the AP literature teacher who composed them did so for students, they carry applicability for us all. Number 9:

You should understand that, in setting out to follow your heart, you better be sure it is really your heart you are listening to.

To which I would add, even if it is your heart you hear, check you heart. Biblical tradition is rife with warnings about the heart and its capacity for self-deception. The very organ that we trust to gauge worth, passion and priority also conspires to gouge out our souls. The Biblical reasons are spiritual: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” asked the Lord (Jer 17:9; somewhat rhetorically I presume). And then famously from Jesus, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These things defile a person.” (Matt 15:19)

While we Christians believe that Jesus fixes all this, or at least has the capacity to fix it, the cure remains partial. And thus   parsons and other soul-minders through the centuries have encouraged the discipline of self-suspicion as a check against self-deception. While I’m not sure we can ever be sure our heart is sure, we can be sure enough if we take a moment to stop, pray, ask a few hard questions and give our paths to the Lord.


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