To realise the holy conversion of any of us regarding a single issue we necessarily must reach the heart. Finding the mind is, beforehand, the precursor. Both journeys are inordinately harder than they at first seem.
In the earlier article, Understanding and Accepting Common Human Insanity, I proposed how stridently difficult it is to reach a person’s mind at times, to convince them on the matters of so-called ‘common sense’.
This is most particularly punctuated in the rebellious child, the drug addict, the nonchalant employee and, finally, the chronic God-searcher who never finds. Of course, there are others—we all feature as learners first at the head level before the heart’s involved.
Holiness is a ‘Heart Thing’
We cannot be set apart to something, devoted to it, without it reaching our hearts. We can understand anything at the level of the mind, but we’ll be forever confused and overwhelmed by the steady and consistent practice of it until it reaches our hearts.
The addict often knows their addictive behavioural patterns are highly problematic and out of control—they accept that in their minds, but their heart lacks the bite of the commitment to go all the way, of real buy-in, to understand that change and recovery truly must happen for them to crawl out of their mire. (Of course, please forgive the simplification here—given that addiction features for much more complex issues that even experts struggle to truly understand.)
At times it feels like all the motivation in the world is there, but moves for sustained change just won’t or don’t stick.
Barriers to the ‘Felt’ Spirituality
As far as spiritual belief is concerned, there’s the same dynamic at play. We can so very easily accept things in our minds—they make intellectual sense to us—but there’s limited benefit in the stakes of belief if this intellectual acceptance doesn’t filter down into the grounded heart.
Some Christians battle for years to come to terms with this. I know I did. My first twelve years of faith was a head-level faith—I never wanted to truly follow God (not like now), though I was incredibly interested. Hence, I led a double life and it did me, and my spiritual progress, no good at all. I never quite knew how to connect all the dots. The real trouble was I hadn’t truly committed yet... I hadn’t realised how deep my need for God was.
Sometimes we need something to shake us so we will begin to take things much more seriously. Perhaps I only started to truly believe when I really had to... God was all I had left. And, still, many people never reach this desperate sense of a rock bottom to shove them into ‘heart central’.
Achieving Heart Acceptance
We know when we’ve reached the level of heart acceptance because those stronger and more intrinsic feelings about our faith are suddenly there—God’s got a hold of us and is not letting go. We don’t have to pretend anymore. We’re genuine.
I suppose the simplest way there is to develop a penitent heart—knowing our nature is to sin and, out of that, that we do need a Saviour to mediate for God, forgiving these sins of ours; perhaps those very struggles that are preventing a heart-response in us.
Perhaps on a most practical level our hearts can only really come to the party one day at a time; that the heart is engaged in the felt-spirituality via the continual re-commitment every morning for months and years—then suddenly we wake one day and just know the job’s done!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.