Do NOT Follow Your Heart

It’s the dogma of our curent culture: follow your heart. It’s such a part of who we think we are, of how we think we should make decisions, of what we strive to reach, that we’ve accepted it as capital-t True.

But it’s not true. At all.

Follow your heart to…NOT heaven.

If you’re aiming for heaven, then your heart isn’t the best guide to get there. For that matter, I don’t think your heart’s a good judge of happiness or satisfaction much of the time, either. The path to hell may be paved with good intentions, and I’ll bet it’s also lined with people who followed their hearts.

Follow your heart to…NOT right.

Depending on the formation of your conscience, the color of the sky, or the way you want things to turn out, your feelings may or may not lead you to “right,” properly defined.

Follow your heart to…wait a minute, change that…

How often have you found your feelings changed—by the passage of time, the color of the sky, your mood? How often do you lose the taste for an activity, a pursuit, or a person who not so long ago you was the chocolate topping to your very existence?

Our feelings can be a barometer for decisions, but they should not be our only baseline. Like the weather here in Ohio, feelings change far too frequently to be the foundation for decisions that can shape our eternity.

Follow your heart…or better yet, DON’T.

Your heart’s going to lead you, if you let it. It will lead you to eating potato chips and chocolate for meals and sitting around doing nothing for exercise. It will lead you to what feels good and what looks nice and what you want.

Except, as parents have been telling their kids for decades, what you think you want probably isn’t what’s best for you.

Find something better to follow, like the Church. She’s immovable, unchanging, and reliable. Her goal is to lead you to heaven.

Copyright © 2013, Sarah Reinhard

Credit to the fine folks at Catholic Underground for this post. More about them when I do my next in the Highlighting New Evangelizers series later this week.

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to be shocked and delighted that her life as a grown-up involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work in the New Evangelization as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of laughs, and consumed mass amounts of coffee. She’s online at and, and is the author of a number of books.

5 responses to “Do NOT Follow Your Heart”

  1. freder1ck says:

    We shouldn’t follow feelings, to be sure, but we discard a critical ally if we accept the contemporary reduction of the traditional word, heart (CCC 2563), to feelings.

    For years, I gained weight from year to year. I was eating very little for breakfast and lunch and eating too much at and after dinner. At a retreat, I learned that instinct is a something that is given so that we can learn to be of service to reality. I also learned to look for the purpose of these drives. If the purpose of food is to extend my life, then eating too much is contrary to the desire itself. In fact, I found that I was denying this desire by eating too little, and trying to suffocate it by eating too much. I also realized that if my desire for food is infinite, then it must be for something greater than food. In this way, my heart has become my ally. And now I can proclaim with Jacapone da Todi: “Christ in His beauty draws me to Him.” And this is the best part, that my desire for food and my desire to be healthy and live longer and better is drawing me closer to Christ— he even uses these humble desires to pull me toward Him.

    • You make an excellent point, Freder1ck, and I thank you for taking the time to make it.

      I think following an instinct like that is different than the “follow your heart” mantra we hear all around us. And it sounds like you used discernment and involved God, which is *very* different than just following your heart.

      I do think our hearts can be our ally, though we have to be careful and always remain discerning. But that’s true of much in life, isn’t it?

      Thanks again for such a well-thought-out comment! Blessings to you!

      • freder1ck says:

        yes, instinctivity is not enough. I also need an awareness of the whole, and how my desire is ordered toward the whole. And for that, I need a person: Jesus Christ, the faces of the Church.

  2. […] Reinhard, our editor here at New Evangelizers, shared her insight that “Follow your heart” is the dogma of our current culture.  I couldn’t agree […]

  3. […] articles (found here and here) from the New Evangelizers  give some great exposition on the matter: “Because of Original […]

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