You know those times when your sinful nature seems to float right up to the surface?
Your heart’s bitter.
Your words are sharp and impatient and crushing.
Fruit of the Spirit? Not here. There’s only grumpiness, hopelessness, and plain old sin.
Yuck, right? But we’ve all been there.
How do we snap out of this funk? How do we begin to realign our hearts with God?
The traditional churchy answer is that you aren’t doing enough. You need to read your Bible more, pray more, go to Church more, serve more.
But, friend, I’m going to propose a different idea. Before we start down this path of more, more, more, let’s take a moment to figure out what is going on.
It’s time to pause for a heart check up.
So let’s get quiet and search our hearts for the lies and spiritual warfare and bitterness and quite simply crap that’s been invading it. And we’re not merely going to find it. What would be the point of that?
We’re going to excavate it. And replace it with Truth.
So, as my son says: It’s expedition time!
How to Realign Your Heart With God’s
Step One: Pray.
Yeah, I know I said we were doing something different. But this isn’t telling you to pray because I don’t think you’ve been doing enough of it. (No prayer out of guilt or shame. Just intentionally asking God for what’s He’s promised.)
We’re going to ask God for two specific things: to search our hearts and to create a pure heart within us.
- “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” – Psalm 139:23 (NIV)
- “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
This check up is only going to work if it starts with prayer and continues with prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 tells me so.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Step Two: Be Brutally Honest.
It’s time to get real. God knows the truth anyway, so you might as well be honest. No point in lying here, friend. So. . .answer these questions:
1. How am I?
Really, how are you? (Some starting points: struggling, out-of-sorts, weary, overwhelmed, unmotivated, desperate, longing, joy-filled, hopeful, shameful, fearful, anxious)
2. What have I been doing?
What have you been spending your time on? What have you been spending your thoughts on? Where is your energy going—on things of this world or the Heavenly realm? Have you been purposeful or aimless?
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12
3. What words have I been using?
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” – Luke 6:45b
So what do your words (audible, typed, or handwritten) say about the state of your heart? Have you been speaking Truth and hope and love? Or has it been filled with condemnation and shame and hate?
Step 3: So what’s the junk?
So what is going on that’s causing you to feel out-of-sorts and misaligning your heart from God’s?
It’s time to make a list of everything you can think of that could possibly be adding to your heart junk.
Recently my list looked like this:
- shame about binge eating
- guilt for canceling plans with a friend
- worried about Simon starting Preschool
- bitter that my husband’s at a hotel, and I’m stuck at home with the kids
- fear of an upcoming playdate with my super tidy friend at my not super tidy house
My heart junk that day: shame, guilt, worries, bitterness, and fear.
And my heart mess was overflowing from my mouth and into my actions. I was short with my kids, freaking out on stains, cursing my husband under my breath, and just generally grumpy.
But I didn’t stay there.
And you shouldn’t either, friend. So let’s move on.
Step 4: Replace the junk.
So you’ve been honest, you’ve listed your junk, and now it’s time to repent, replace, and return.
God, I repent:
– “I’ve let idols overthrow Your rightful place in my life.”
– “I’ve tried to do life without You.”
– “I’ve cared more about the world than I have about Your Word.”
– “I’ve been looking at the world for acceptance, instead of resting in Your Love.”
Whatever it is, friend, it’s time to seek forgiveness. Because heart junk is sin. It’s placing something higher than God’s Truth. So we repent.
This step is ridiculously(!) important because your heart junk will return. And when it tries to squeeeeeze in, you need to have Truth to block it.
If we want God to create in us a clean heart and faithful spirit, we probably should know what that looks like, right?
Look at your junk, find common themes, and then look up those themes in the Bible. (Concordances are awesome for this or use one of the many free only Bible study tools.)
We’ll take my junk for example:
Shame over binge eating.
The lie here is what I eat and do change my worth in God. If I eat well and I exercise, then I am more loved. If don’t, then I have failed God.
The truth is there’s nothing I can do that can separate me from the love of God. I don’t—nor could I ever!—earn my salvation. God has gifted it to me.
The secondary practical truth is that I feel better when I eat and exercise to nourish and strengthen my body.
Your turn. Get out your Bible and start replacing the junk with Truth.
Make calling out your heart junk part of your daily routine. Junk is aways going to want to barge in and try to misalign your heart from God’s. But you don’t have to fall victim to it.
Instead, return—realign—your heart to God. Let Him guard your heart.
And here’s where the “more” can come in.
– Get in the Word.
– Find Christian community.
– Make prayer a part of your day-to-day life.
– Create a habit of checking in with your heart.
And we don’t do these practices because they are part of some Christian “to do list.” But because we know and long for Truth and Love. These are our “get-to’s” not our “have-to’s.”
If I could give you one piece of parting advice it would be this: don’t focus on perfection; lean into grace.
Don’t be discouraged. Know that day-by-day as you seek Him, He is making you more like Christ.
Set your eyes on Christ. Immerse yourself in the Truth of who He is and who you are in Him. And don’t stop.
So, God, we ask of you to search us and to find all of our junk. Create in us a clean heart. And renew a faithful spirit within us. We ask all of this in Christ Jesus’ name—the Perfector of our faith. Amen.
My Favorite Healing-Your-Heart Book
Heart Made Whole: Turning Your Unhealed Pain Into Your Greatest Strength by Clifford Black Gifford
This book, friend. Oh, this book. I wrote why I loved it in this post, but if you’ve had any type of trauma—big or small—you need this book. For reals. <3