The Head & The Heart


The phrase "Use your head!" is one that I have employed more than once with all three of my boys.  Usually, I've uttered it after they did something monumentally idiotic, which boys tend to do on occasion.  

I've also told them, "That's using the ole noodle!" when they did something brilliant, lest you think my platitudes only tend toward the negative. 

Most of us have had people say similar things to us at one point or another.  We've been told to "put on our thinking caps," "sleep on it" when making decisions, and a host of other exhortations aimed at getting us to employ our brains. 

All of this is good advice, mind you. We must employ our heads from time to time to think before we act, jump, or speak to prevent ourselves from offending or harming others or damaging ourselves, for that matter.  

However, when we live too much in our heads, it can become a problem. 

Suppose our default is to overthink, fret, worry, and resort to paralysis by analysis every time we have to decide or move away from the things that may be keeping us from becoming the people we long to be. In that case, we need to do something different. 

Melody Beattie once wrote this wonderful bit of wisdom that speaks to this: 

The head has an agenda for our lives.  It chatters away boldly, but its vision is limited.  It leaves no room for the mysterious workings of the universe, nor does it take into account the side trips we need to get where we are going, where our souls need to go.  It's the voice that says, "This is the way it's going to be." 

That's where the heart comes into play.  By "heart," I mean the center of our being, our feelings, our soul, and the most authentic part of us that has been untouched by the cares of life, self-criticism, and fear.  It's us at our best.  

To be fair, there are plenty of times when we need the head to do some work.  Sometimes caution is warranted, planning is required, analysis is necessary.  

But when we live too long in our heads, we soon discover that the mystery and wonder may fade from our lives, and we've lost sight of all the adventure that comes from deviating from the well-trodden paths the head prefers. 

I feel like the heart as we've described it is the part of us that lives in the wildness of the Spirit, tuned in to the frequency of the "mysterious workings of the universe," as Beattie puts it. 

It's the deep that calls out the deepest.  It's the voice within us that sounds like our truest selves because it's a voice that echoes the voice of eternity.  

If you've ever heard that old saying, "The heart wants what the heart wants," you might have thought it had to do with an improbable romantic relationship, but it's so much more than that. 

What the heart truly wants is to know and be known, and not just person-to-person, but with the Divine, with God as we understand God.  

There's a wildness to this, as I mentioned.  Jesus once told his disciples that the Spirit was like a wind that blew where it wanted.  He said that they could not perceive where it was going to blow, but they could experience it once it got there. 

This is what our hearts long for, to feel the wind of the Spirit, to chase after it, to feel the effects of the Spirit moving, pushing, pulling, guiding and disorienting us in the very best ways. 

If you feel like you are living too much in your head lately, perhaps it's time to let your heart lead you for a while.  It's not easy to quiet your head, and it might be a little frightening, but give it a try. 

You never know where it might take you.  

May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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