Connecting the Heart
“You think about things way too deeply.”
“Do I? I mean, there’s something else going on right? There has to be or I wouldn’t have reacted that way,” I responded.
Molly was quiet as she pondered for a moment. We were dating. She was driving us to lunch at The Pita Pit. I was somewhere in the midst of intense post-divorce, post-Christian life counseling with one of our pastors. The effect was my incessant dives into why I would react or respond to what was going on or happening to me.
“Maybe not,” she said, “but you do have a crazy need to find the motive behind EVERYTHING…dive into that!” Her snarky way of pointing out irony was one of the reasons I fell in love with her.
I’m not sure what it was about the counseling but at some point, I saw the connection between outward behavior and inward desire in blinding clarity and the desire’s never left. There’s always something underneath that drives a person to do, say or respond one way vs. another. That might be one reason why I enjoy writing fiction and screenwriting so much, I get to explore the motives behind people’s actions.
Most Christians know the passage in James 4, “What causes fights and quarrels among you?”My paraphrase of the passage is: “Something’s happening to you that you don’t want or something’s not happen that you do want and you’re responding accordingly.” This idea isn’t limited to a Christian teaching though, it’s just as applicable to every life and every situation regardless of what you believe. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do a very good job of thinking deeply about why we respond or do things the way we do.
I try, with varying degrees of success to bring this idea to light when talking with my kids. They’ve clobbered their sibling, they’re throwing a fit, etc. Before I don my Punisher tee, I try and remember my goal is to shepherd them. That means, not simply correcting outward behavior but connecting it to what’s going on inside. That’s where the real change happens anyway right? Conversations tend to look like this:
“Ask you heart questions: ‘What am I getting that I don’t want or what is not happening right now that I do want.’”
Generally, the kids stare daggers at me at this point.
“It’s not bad that you’re desiring something. The problem is, you're desiring bad things. That’s not good. You need to change what you desire.”
Being Christians, at this point, I like to try and keep things simple.
“Since desires are in your heart, you need to change your heart. This is where God works. He helps you change your desires to good desires like the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control…” Then I’ll tend to add, “…and loving others more than yourself! Putting others’ needs ahead of your own.”
At this point, they’ve either softened and started to cry a little bit or gotten even angrier. Either way, I’ll attempt to pray for this heart change with/for them. Many times, the situation simply escalates and I end up having to ask my own heart questions. LOL.