I used to have a really bad heart. Really. When I say heart, I am referring to my emotional state and emotions in general. I had a really bad heart; it was very damaged. I was in a very serious relationship for a long time–5 years to be exact. When the relationship ended, I hardly had any other friends and therefore hardly any support. My heart was so heavy, and yet so empty. Everything I did was to try and fill the emptiness, the cracks, and breaks in my heart. Trying to reconnect with my ex didn’t work out (all 80 times that I tired), each time backfiring with deeper woes. So I tried forming new connections of friendship once, twice… I had none. In that moment I was pretty hopeless, but completely numb. I was too numb to feel my hopelessness, too numb to feel empty or hurt…or even pleasure…even shallow pleasure.
In this numbness I figured I could be totally logical about life, and so I tried to be. I tried to make sense of the state that I was in. I figured that the human heart was really stupid, selfish, and shortsighted. Stupid because it only ever wanted things that it couldn’t have, and trying to have such things only caused more hurt. Selfish because it always wanted, and wanted more. Pretty annoying. Shortsighted because it wanted to feel better now, at any and all costs.
I kept these beliefs about the heart and emotions for a long time. Now many years from that part of my life, I have gained a better understanding of the desires of the human heart. Our hearts have real emotional needs. However, it is the brain that puts names to these needs throughout our lives. We experience a longing in our hearts and then our minds provide an explanation. The problem with this is that our minds can only give explanations using what they already know, what they have already experienced. This is why, all those years ago, what I so often craved emotionally were past experiences, past feelings from my relationship. Obviously, those feelings were problematic in the first place. Trying to replicate the feelings I had during a long relationship, but in a fraction of the time, had disastrous consequences.
You see, the signals of desire we experience don’t always (hardly ever, really) lead us to what we really need. This even happens physiologically. For example, our bodies did not develop a very effective way of letting us know that we need to drink water. Our brain often confuses thirst with hunger. A lot of the time when we feel hungry between meals, it is actually our body trying to signal that we are dehydrated and need water. Similarly, somewhere between our hearts and our heads, the signals of our desires get mixed up. We struggle to know how to truly satisfy our hearts and to understand what we need emotionally.
Of course, I have only come to understand all of this in retrospect. Now I see why and how this downward spiral of my heart got so low! I didn’t really know what my heart needed. It wasn’t the feelings from my past relationship that my heart was really looking for, but rather I was longing for the Love of loves, the Source of all love and intimacy. My heart was a parched desert, dried up from a broken relationship and failed attempts at healing. But how could I have turned to God’s quenching love if I had never known it? If I had never before truly experienced it?
Now I understand the symptoms of God calling my heart to Him. When my heart craves so much more than I could ever expect from people, I know I’m craving time in prayer. When I feel starved for attention, I know it’s intimate prayer time that I need. When I feel like I need to gain people’s acceptance, worrying about how I’m dressed, my hair, and the way I talk, I know I’m being called to find my self-security in my Father. When I feel entitled to the love of those closest to me, or when I start to do favors for others in hopes of getting love back from them, I know…beyond a doubt…that I need to turn to the One true source of satisfaction in prayer, and accept His love.
The secret is, I gotta know! I have got to know God loves me THAT much! That huge amount of love and fulfillment I’m looking for? He’s got it! He waits for MY attention, not the other way around. He takes me as I am, and loves me. He loves me so much; I want to be a better person, for Him. Most importantly, with His love, I KNOW I can continue to change for the better. My weaknesses and my life situations are not greater than His love for me.
SO! Brothers and sisters, what love do you know? What glimpses of love have you experienced that you are trying to put in the place of God’s love in your heart? Where do you go looking for love when you long for ultimate, perfect fulfillment? What do you do, because of past experiences, to get that quick fix of attention and care instead of turning to Him, the One who constantly waits for your attention? Who do you try to be, or where do you go for acceptance, as conditional and temporary as it may be, instead of falling into the unconditional and infinite arms of God? He is the only One who can provide the kind of love, peace, joy, security, acceptance, and attention that you so long for.
Get to know Him, and satisfy your heart.