Are you a “head person” or a “heart person”? Do you process experiences logically and analytically, or do you feel your emotions? The ancient Hebrews used the word “heart” to include intellect, desire, emotions, motives, sin, the will, and the “springs of life.” Look at these verses from the Old Testament:
“Search me, O God and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
“. . . man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
“[God] knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21)
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Anxious thoughts are a function of the heart.
The Ancient Greek philosophers saw the mind as the seat of intellect and could separate it out from the rest. Notice the difference between Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” and Jesus’ version of the same verse 1500 years later: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jesus refused to allow any part of man to be excluded from the duty to love God with his whole being.
Why make a big deal about this? Western culture focuses on the intellect. We can be factual, rational, objective. Feelings and logic can be detached. We often neglect the deeper understanding of the heart. This becomes crucial in our relationships. And, while God gave us a head to use, He gave us much more. He expects us to use all of it.
Is pain causing you to close your heart?
Many years ago, I experienced a hurt which caused me to close my heart so I wouldn’t feel the pain. In law school it was easy to stay up in my head, processing information and thinking intellectual thoughts where I did not have to experience negative emotions. The downside of this plan was that I didn’t feel emotions at all. This prevented me from connecting heart-to-heart with my brand-new wife who would have been delighted to connect. For a husband and wife to be able to love each other well, both spouses must be able to give and receive love. But for those of us locked in our heads, both giving and receiving love is greatly hindered.
I’d like to give you an assignment this week: Set aside ten minutes each day to speak and listen carefully to your spouse’s heart. The key here is that you purposefully move from your head to your heart. You will speak differently when you are in your head than when you are in your heart. You can hear the difference. Ask, “How was your day?” first from your head and then from your heart. Understand the difference. Try saying, “You seem busy and stressed lately,” from your head. Now try saying the same thing from your heart. Learn to feel the difference. Your spouse can help you know when you get it right.
God made emotions and He made them for a good reason. Learn to access your whole heart when you are dealing with important relationships.