Trust your Gut and Ignore your heart

I vividly remember one night about twenty years ago, driving home from a dinner party with friends just outside of Baltimore. I was about five minutes away. It was nearly midnight, and the stop light flicked to red, even though nobody else was on the road except for the one set of headlights behind me. Those lights belonged to a pickup truck which stopped next to me, and I could feel the driver looking me over hungrily. I flicked my eyes to my right so I could quickly see him, and immediately felt a shiver run down my spine. The hair on my arms and neck stood on end. Something in the pit of my stomach told me that this guy had very dark and very scary intentions. The light turned green, and as I shifted into gear (I had a stick shift), he swung into my lane right behind me. He followed me so aggressively, I knew I should not pull into my apartment complex. Danger was pulsing in my ears, I had to get away from him. I continued straight and headed towards the mall instead of turning right. He followed. I screeched my car out of the mall parking lot and sped around, and again, he was behind me. I looped around the whole block twice, and when I finally had lost him, I shut off my headlights, turned into my complex, parked my car, shut off the engine, locked the doors, and sat shaking in my seat facing my building. Perhaps a minute after I parked, I saw his truck barreling down the street and drive past the entrance to my complex. I unbuckled my seatbelt and crouched down. Realizing I must have pulled off somewhere, he U-turned, and drove slowly through my C-shaped parking lot. I was never so grateful to have a Honda that looked like every other car. I prayed he didn’t have my license plate memorized. His headlights passed through my windows as he crept around the parking lot, then he blessedly gave up and took a right back onto the main road. Once he was gone, I bolted out of my car and up the stairs into my apartment, locking the door behind me with my shaking hands.

It’s strange, these feelings we have that are innate to us. There is a saying that you should trust your gut. Your “gut” refers to your instincts or your “spider sense” that bristles when something feels wrong, or when you sense danger. Your body initiates its fight or flight mode, and when we trust and act on these gut instincts, they’re usually right and we are kept from harm.

Why then, is it that our hearts are so off-base when it comes to what’s best for us? When I was single, there were times in my life I just didn’t want to be single anymore. I became jealous of other couples and bitter because it seemed that everyone else I knew had a partner except me. I would plow through stop signs and danger flags and compromise my convictions because I craved the thrill and excitement of winning some boy’s attention. My heart made choices for me that hurt more than I could have imagined. In retrospect, we can be so choosy about what company to keep when it comes to friends, but it seems like all sense and caution get tossed out the window if our hearts go aflutter with some new boy. We trust these boys with our hearts and our lives often without having any idea what they are really like when they’re alone or not trying to impress us. We rush to their defense when someone who truly knows and loves us questions their character or actions. We put up with more garbage from them when we think it’s love than we would ever tolerate from friends or family members. Psalm 37:4 states “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” So, when are our hearts’ desires ever something good for us? If we are desperately trying to obtain the love and affection (or simply the attention) of another human, or seeking money, or success, or pleasure, or even peace in our lives or minds without God, we are setting ourselves up for heartbreak, pain, shame, and/or guilt. If we are delighting in the Word of God and seeking God’s face daily, he will quiet the most desperate longings of our souls. We are God’s creation, and he knows us even better than we understand ourselves. He knows our most intimate thoughts and fulfills our hearts’ deepest needs, and when we allow him to fill us, we become thankful and content.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba. Now, Solomon’s parent’s relationship began rather scandalously. Bathsheba was bathing on her rooftop and King David saw her from across his own palace rooftop, and immediately fell head over heels. David was so infatuated with her, that he even had her husband advance to the front of the battle lines so he’d be killed in combat. When Solomon became king, God told Solomon that He would give him whatever he asked. Solomon asked for not riches or peace or power or the love of a woman. He simply asked for Wisdom, and God gave it to him filled to the brim, running over, plus all the other things he didn’t ask for. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23 to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life.” I’m sure David warned his son against the dangers of jumping heart first. Proverbs consistently reminds us to above all, seek wisdom and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of of all wisdom. Our hearts can so easily wander when we are not letting God complete us. By daily seeking the Lord, he will both fill our hearts with what we are longing for, but he will also give us wisdom. Out of a thankful and content heart, we will make wise choices that are good for us and keep us away from harm.

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