Follow Your Heart
December 19, 2014
In most theological discussions about the heart, you may hear anything from the heart symbolizes your spirit, your deepest longing, or the strong pull from God to go in one direction. In other words, most people would agree that the human heart is God’s metaphor for the part of us, the spiritual aspect that leads us to divine light. So, to follow your heart would mean to follow the path that leads you to your greatest passion, perhaps. And, if you’re willing to believe for a moment, this passion is sown in your heart by your most primal desire to make a difference on this earth.
During most of my spiritual walk, I felt as if I had a couple of different voices in my mind or body urging me on. One voice was most definitely the longing of my physical body. As any young person knows, those urges are strong and definite. In fact, in your mind, the voice of sexuality, hunger, desire for money, and popularity are so loud that they end up leading most youth through the first part of their lives and into their thirties. We have all found it difficult to listen to that still, small voice from the heart when the voice of the physical body is so loud that it appears like the thumping rhythm, coming from a car that shakes as it goes down the street from music so loud that it fills the city. We know that old car, the person driving it, and the impact it wants to make.
But, as we get older, the lines of delineation between the heart and body begin to blur, mostly because as we age we have experienced most of the trauma that the body’s urging brings, and end up listening for the deeper voice before we are ever told. I know with me, I began to suppress my bodily urgings at a young age, because I saw my sisters and brother get in trouble from listening to the loud clang of their youth. So, I mastered shutting down my sexual and physical desires at a time when most young kids are sowing their wild oats. I was completely, I mean completely, celibate for seven years from 21-28.
When I read the journals I wrote about life and trying hard to not listen to my body at those ages, I was in utter anguish. I wouldn’t wish the thoughts and ideations in my mind, then, on my worst enemy. But it was also a time that I reached down so deeply into my soul for a connection to something larger than I. It was in that deep place that I found I could get still in my body, often by days of fasting and prayer, and be able to listen to that quieter, more profound voice that led me into deeper study and a more intricate connection to the whole puzzle of life, which intrigued me more than most youths.
If I had it to do over, would I have taken the time to learn my lessons as they came naturally and have taken on my teenage and early twenties to have been more open to the desires of my body? Perhaps. But, I also know that during the time I was celibate, almost 60% of my friends in New York City had caught HIV and all of them died within a year, because no cure existed then. I knew that whatever it was that led me to celibacy was also protecting me from a disease that was likely to have gotten hold of my body and killed me.
Don’t get the wrong idea about this message. I don’t judge sexuality at all. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m the last person who would judge anything. I simply wonder and desire for you to consider what it means to be led by something greater than your physical desires. I know we all have felt a presence guide us, perhaps, from a storm in our lives, from a collision that almost happened, from a relationship that could have caused us pain. That deep urging often can keep us safe, even though it may mean not getting what your most immediate desires, as it was for me in my twenties.
Yet, I also know, that like a leaf being tossed in the wind, sometimes we let nature take us to our next lesson. In those times I am aptly aware of the difference in the choices I had made. Usually, my choices are rash and quick when the wind urges me onto a certain path. When I wait to deliberate and listen in the silence, I find a perfect balance of where I’m being led and follow a certainty that no human mind can define.
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