Slipping from Heart to Head

When you go to the Doctor, one of the most common questions you’ll get is, “Have there been any changes in your health lately? . . . recent weight-loss? . . . weight-gain? . . . etc.”  The Doctor isn’t just being nosey or trying to chat it up with you. Your Doctor knows that with each change there is a reason; there is something behind these changes that holds answers to what is going on inside.

Life is like this physically… and spiritually.

Last week was a hard week.  (To be honest, in many ways I’ve had a hard year. Just read some of my recent posts. 🙂 )  There have been many times I’ve felt detached, lonely, numb even. I have that sensation you experience while driving your car when you’re tired and distracted and you can’t remember how you got where you are… what happened during the last few miles?!   It’s like how Eldredge describes the way many of us experience life, “Like arriving to a movie 20 minutes late… something important seems to be going on, but we can’t seem to make any sense of it…“.  I mean, sometimes I feel such clarity, passion, direction, connectedness, purpose… and yet over the last year I’ve felt like I’m late for the movie… or maybe a better metaphor to describe it would be to say I’ve felt like someone listening to one side of a phone conversation.  I can tell there is an important conversation going on, but I can’t make out enough for me to make sense of it. My sense of clarity and passion and direction and purpose seem cloudy, distant, spotty.

Which brings me to one day last week… As I was walking the hall to fill my water cup, a thought surfaced in my consciousness.  It was a glimpse of clarity. A light peircing the fog. A thought so simple and real that I immediately knew I needed to pause to consider it. The thought: I had shifted to living from facts and not faith. 

And it all made sense. In the weeks leading up to that day, I’ve slowly, unintentionally shifted from a life of the heart (the deep life of communion, relationship, intimacy with God) to that of sterile facts. I was moving away from my heart. As I look back, I can see it; I’d begun to steer away from the deeper questions. I’ve been avoiding deep discussions. On my quiet drives to/from work, I’d been skipping past many of my commonly listened to podcasts in favor of more intellectual, fact-driven, messages. Facts are, after all, safe, reliable, concrete.  So, I noticed myself listening for the history, and words, and tone, and what I needed to “do”.  Like facts, “Doing”, after all, gives a sense of progress and control. I also noticed in my friendships, conversations were drifting into topics about “stuff” and “activities” and “facts/figures”. In free time, I was busying myself. It’s like I was singing the right songs, but the words were being sung from a different place, almost by dictation, with detachment from their content.  Without realizing it, I was moving from art to formula… exchanging The Dance for a Math problem… mystery for understanding… the unknowable for something controllable… exchanging conversation for answers… moving from faith… to facts.

This is a ‘safe’ place to live. 
This is a dangerous place to live. *
This is a Godless place to live.

All is not lost. That is the beauty of God. And, so as this moment of clarity, like an armour-piercing bullet, begins to pierce my heart, I give myself back to God. I pray for Jesus to come back into this. In a simple shift of my heart, I repent of my distance, of my desire to ‘control’, of my dependence on counterfeits. I turn back to Him… back to mystery… back to questions… to dance… to art… to the unknown… back to conversation… to walking together… back to faith.

I hope you can make sense of my ramblings. I’m not saying that facts & information are bad, they have their important place. But to exchange a relationship with God for a set of facts and principles and duties and “teachings” is to move away from love itself, from life itself.  And, the gradual change from the messy, unpredictable, difficult, wonderful place of relationship to the safe, manageable, containable, static life of information signalled something deeper was going on.  As Jesus summarized, the greatest commandments were not to follow an inanimate, static set of rules, but instead we are to Love God and Love people.  Life must flow out of relationship first.  It’s why in these blogs I try to write to you openly and honestly about my own life. I want to help us all live from the heart, in relationship, with God and each other.

So… How about you… Have there been any changes in your ‘health’ lately?  Taking on any extra ‘weight’? How are you doing?  What does your life look like?… are you living from the heart?  Are you living with a sense of connection with the heart of God, with intimacy in your conversations, with deep questions, with friendship?   There is a reason for where you are; there is something behind these changes that holds answers to what is going on inside. Is it time for you to rediscover the life of your heart?

Here are a few suggestions to help you process:

  1. Take a quick (2 or 3 minutes) glance back at your last week. Consider these questions:
    What were your interactions with others like? (Interactive? Deep? Emotive? or Surface? Dutiful? Activity oriented?)  And what about your interactions with God? (Same?)  What things are you avoiding? What are you gravitating toward?
  2. Go take a walk.  Don’t take an agenda with you. Just ask God this simple question, “God, what do you have for me?” (Allow Him space to talk to you about question 1.)
  3. Journal a few thoughts about your conversation.  Then give yourself a day or two to settle… and Repeat steps 1-3.  I believe you’ll find God leading you out of where you are into a better, freer place.  (He is called “The Great Physician” after all.)

I’m here for you if you need to talk more.

Living in unending discovery,

Mark

* Luke 17:33

4 thoughts on “Slipping from Heart to Head

  1. I loved what you had to say Mark and the Lord used it to speak directly into my life and what I am struggling with right now.

    For me it has been about getting lost in my head – the sin of introspection (the heart/mind schism). Let me try and explain what I mean. I can get lost in intellectual pursuits of trying to understand/explain myself or even to try and dig into some theological issue- not like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin kind of stuff or what’s the deal with the rapture. I mean things like my recent “project” to study both sides of the origins question so I could feel secure in my stance on it, especially in light of the latest discoveries in cosmology as they relate to the debate between creationism and naturalism. I even went so far as to write out a whole study plan for my grandsons so they would have material to debate both sides and see what conclusions they came to. My research led me to read up on both sides so I got books by Carl Sagan & Stephen Hawking as well as Christian scientists. I even bought a book on physics to try and understand the different theories put out there to explain the universe, like string theory.

    Ok, so not bad in and of itself- but here’s where it resonates with what you wrote. It became all-consuming! I got lost in it at the expense of time alone with God. And this kind of thing can actually be addicting for me. I will finish with one exploration and immediately go off on another.

    One writer once said of C.S. Lewis, “once he conquered the sin of introspection he never stopped loving the things above and about and all around himself. His awe in the face of the great and the mysterious, the beautiful and the true was never dimmed or extinguished by turning inward. He learned early that to do this was to destroy the capacity to experience- to be.” I love that! I heard this analogy which seems to fit: Someone travels to an exotic place and is consumed with taking hundreds of pictures- capturing the perfect shot- and in essence misses the whole experience of being there. Analyzing things – getting lost in my head- can be a way for me to miss out on experiencing just being in the presence of the Lord and enjoying Him.

    Anyway, I think this is related to what you shared. I could be off-track.

    1. I love what you’re saying. And, I love that you get it. And, most of all, I love that you’re taking steps to find your way back to your heart, to the wellspring of life within you. (Prov 4:23) What a difficult balance it can be… that dance with head and heart…

      It reminds me of a conversation in the book, The Wizard of OZ, when the Tin man and the Scarecrow wrestle with this very issue. It is a great mythic picture of the internal conversation we all are engaged in. In Chapter 5 the Lion and Dorothy have just rescued the Tin Man and they have a great conversation…

      ” It was a bit of good luck to have their new comrade join the party, for soon after they had begun their journey again they came to a place where the trees and branches grew so thick over the road that the travelers could not pass. But the Tin Woodman set to work with his axe and chopped so well that soon he cleared a passage for the entire party.

      . . . [the scarecrow then fell into a hole…]

      “Why didn’t you walk around the hole?” asked the Tin Woodman.

      “I don’t know enough,” replied the Scarecrow cheerfully. “My head is stuffed with straw, you know, and that is why I am going to Oz to ask him for some brains.”

      “Oh, I see,” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”

      “Have you any?” inquired the Scarecrow.

      “No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman. “But once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.” ”

      You can read the entire conversation here (http://www.literature.org/authors/baum-l-frank/the-wonderful-wizard-of-oz/chapter-05.html).

      What a timeless struggle for all humanity! But I think I tend to agree with the Tin Man… having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart! 🙂

      Very truly,
      Mark

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