What Does It Mean To “Follow Your Heart”?

Fellow blogger sunshine lou wrote a thought-provoking post recently:

Listen to your heart, you have the answers.

I’m thankful for Lou’s advice. The message that I got from her post is: While listening to others is important, ultimately the choice to do or not to do something is up to you, so you’ve got to carefully consider what is best for you.

There is a part of me that is skeptical, though. Part of me that is thinking: Is it possible, after listening to peoples’ advice and getting what you want to get out of it, and following your heart, to still end up on the wrong path?

The reason I ask that question is: No one is perfect. We all fall short to some extent. We can’t see where every path leads.

Image result for a fork in the road

I am reminded of the movie Madagascar (2005). In the movie, penguins from the Central Park Zoo commandeer a ship in order to return to their home: Antarctica. The penguins are, essentially, following their heart: They are doing what they genuinely believe will bring them happiness and inner peace.

And what happens when the penguins finally get to Antarctica?

I see existence as a dark room: We’re all bumping into each other, our fingers brushing every surface, as we look for the light switch. Toes will get stepped on, we’ll walk right into another person, and we’ll trip over that book that someone left lying on the ground. My point is: We will fail before we succeed.

Which is why, as a Catholic, I believe that, ultimately, we can’t rely only on our blind selves and our blind fellows. We need to turn our blind eyes to the one whose eyes see.

That doesn’t mean, though, that our problem will be solved — that doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically be able to “find the light switch.” If we’re not careful, turning our eyes to God can make finding the light switch even harder. Here’s what I mean:

Recently, through email, I had a conversation with Lou about what I should do to not feel “stuck” — what I should do to climb out of the rut that I felt I was in. Here are some of my words to her:

…you’re right about me struggling with faith in myself.

For years, I’ve been struggling with my thoughts: I’ve been struggling to not let them hold me back.

I always used to see believing in myself as prideful. I was afraid that, if I believed in myself, that I would think of myself as incapable of making mistakes, or I would think that I was better than others.

What I wanted to be, is humble. And in my desire to be humble I, unfortunately, underestimated myself: I made myself believe that I was powerless to attain the kind of life that I want to attain.

Thanks to you though, now I know that having faith in myself isn’t a bad thing — that it isn’t a bad thing to say to myself “I can do this.” I can’t do everything, but I can do a lot.

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