I love asking this question of those close to me, and I love it when they ask it of me. I want others to know I care very much about them, and I’m honored when they show the same care for me. I love this question.
I mean, usually I love it..
Rather, sometimes I love it.
That is, sometimes I really don’t love it.
I love this question when my heart is in a good place, marching confidently to Zion, gaining new heights every day.
I don’t love this question when my heart is ugly, riddled with sin, faithless. Even if I am able to see those pitiful things in my own heart, I’d rather not show them to you, thank you.
We humans do love to protect our carefully-cultivated images.
We know that if we allow each other to step over the fences we’ve painstakingly built around our hearts and enter those places where wild weeds grow and prairie-dog mounds proliferate, we will be known for who we really are.
Sinners saved by grace.
You see, I’m okay with telling you how my heart is, up to a certain point. But if I let you cross that fence, you may soon discover that the promising vista to my heart is really only a cleverly camouflaged landfill teeming with shameful little sins and appallingly un-Christlike attitudes. Take a closer look, and you may be repelled by the jumbled mess you find: pristine objects of joy and victory hopelessly strewn together with wrecked articles of self-pity and defeat. If you were to ask me about them, I would no more be able to elucidate them to you than sort them out for myself.
—as a friend did this afternoon—about my heart, I could probably come up with statements that would give an endearing and self-depracating evaluation. Worded in a way that would make me appear honest, vulnerable, humble. Wise and self-aware:
- “This has been a tough season of waiting, but I keep trusting Jesus!”
- “This week of Microsoft tutorials and on-line assessments is so worth it, because I’m learning great things!”
- “It’s okay that I don’t have a job yet, because I’m getting to spend extra time with my precious grandkids!”
- “That book I’m reading on discerning God’s voice is meeting me right where I’m at!”
These statements would be true enough. But there would be other truths I might not want you to see. Truths that might uncover insecurity, weariness, second-guessing, discontent, callousness. I’m not saying those things are in me or anything—just that, well, hypothetically, they could be.
Do we keep asking? Do we have to answer?
So, should we be asking about each other’s hearts? Should we be asking how to pray for one another? Should we be inviting others to share about what the Lord has (or hasn’t) been speaking to them lately? Should we be asking, as the Wesleyans used to, “How goes it with your soul?”?
Should we ask questions like these, even if it means we’re risking a rebuff?
Or, perhaps more significantly, should we be answering questions like these, even if it means exposing some hidden part of ourselves?
I believe the answer in both cases is yes. In fact, a resounding yes! As brothers and sisters called into community in a way no other social unit on earth is called, the body of Christ is to care deeply about one another’s souls. When the apostle Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ,” he’s referring to spiritual burdens; those inner struggles we all have as we live out our new life in Christ (check out the context in Galatians 5:25 – 6:2).
How can we do this if we neither ask nor answer the questions that really matter? If we can’t trust one another to provide a safe environment in which truest beauty can grow out of our patches of ugliness?
A whole separate blog
There is a corollary blog waiting to be written that would address how and when and to whom we ask these questions of one another. Sensitivity, trust, history, and grace are some of the factors that must come into play before we start blurting out questions to every person we pass in the church hallway.
And there’s a third blog that would tackle how, when, and to whom we answer.
But, for now, may we agree that the question—”How’s your heart?”— is an important one, both to ask and to be asked?
My mind is careening off-road right now. So many ways this discussion could go! I’d love for you to weigh in on it.
Or—if I may be so bold—I’d love for you to share your heart.
Listening to His heart in order to know my own,