If I Only Had a Heart

Keith KettenringChristian Living, Motley Christian

People who struggle to express their emotions are often labelled as “having no heart.”

When someone is told to “have a heart” it is usually a request to show sympathy or at least give in to what’s requested.

Do emotions reside in the heart? Where do emotions come from?

Here’s a technical answer: Emotion is believed to be generated from a physical source, and the part of the brain responsible for it is the limbic system of the brain, which is made up of several structures located in the cerebral cortex.

Apparently, the heart is not the source of our emotions. From our experience we know that, in some manner, the heart can respond to emotions. Yet, emotions themselves come from our mind, our thoughts.

Thoughts create feelings. Walk through a cemetery by yourself on a still, dark, and foggy night. Your brain tricks you with thoughts of death, spirits, or eeriness and you begin to feel fear when in reality there is nothing to fear at all. Sit in a doctor’s waiting room for a routine check-up and you’ll often think of what might be wrong with you producing anxiety. Your thoughts are causing your feelings.

Like the tin man, we might think that in order to be “tender, gentle, awfully sentimental regarding love and art” and to “register emotion, jealousy, devotion and really feel the part” we need a heart.

What we really need is a thought life that controls our emotions and emotions that fit well with our thoughts. In other words, mind and heart need to be functioning as one.

One key result of Adam and Eve’s fall was the fragmentation of their inner being. Not only did sin separate them from God, sin fractured mind from heart and soul from body. You and I live with that reality today.

God’s original design for humanity was that our mind, soul, heart/spirit, and body would be in sync, unified in wholeness with God.

Salvation fundamentally entails the restoration of our wholeness. Salvation not only brings healing to our relationship with God but also brings healing to our whole fragmented being. What mercy from God!

Jesus gives us a vision of a fully functioning internal and external life in the beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. 

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

Touching on our emotions, desires, purpose, lifestyle, relationships and goals, Jesus’ beatitudes challenge us to live holistically in Christ.

When we live in the wholeness which God gives us in Christ, we are truly living blessed.

To get there, we need a whole lot of healing. That’s the journey every human being is on (whether they recognize it or not), including you.

Focus on the first part of each beatitude and wrestle with these characteristics. What if you became this kind of person? What would it be like for your heart and mind to be functioning as one?

Probably a little less motley and a little more Christian.