The Heart: A Wild Creature

This statement, from its anonymous author, recently caught my attention:

“Hearts are wild creatures. That’s why our ribs are cages.”

Its focus, the heart and the rib cage, hit home. For I have had a disordered history with both.
My obsession with the thin physique created my descent into anorexia and its painful heart issues.

“…I could count all of my ribs. I still wasn’t thin enough; it wasn’t good enough…”*

As I’ve been in recovery from eating disorders, food, weight and body image issues, yes, I’ve had to deal with my heart. That, therefore, includes the related topics of passions, desires and idolatry.

For he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost… his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 23:7

I’m often described as intense, “type A,” perfectionistic and driven. Those assessments, as I experienced various forms of disorder, provided irrefutable evidence: self-destructive passions emanated from my heart.

And God certainly understands our finite beings, passion’s consuming fire and its pitfalls.

For he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:14

We will want things in life. That is not a shocker to Him; it shouldn’t be to us either.

The sticking point, however, is to make the distinction between passions, which tend to be carnal and potentially harmful, and desires, which are life-affirming and often originate from a Divine direction.

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:16

As an overweight, hurt and fearful child, I wrongly absorbed the belief being thin was my answer. My pain and insecurity drove my passion to be emaciated, to do whatever it took to have my ribcage jutting outside of my skin.

“…Diet and defeat, attempts and failure had become my way of life. That is, until one day, when diet became Victory for me…Each comment, lost pound, and lost inch gave me more of an incentive. As I lost weight, I found myself always in need of a new goal… I eventually became convinced that death—at least the look of starvation—was beautiful. I was envying the ‘beauty,’ the look of the malnourished, the tortured—even those in concentration camps…” *

But those beliefs and actions were not of God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Instead, my destructive passions were in diametric opposition to the Most High’s desire. He wanted to bless me with life and health; my sick
heart only wanted death. My disordered eating was a death wish, a passive suicide.

Yet, indeed, Isaiah 55:8-9 declares humbling Truth…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I refused that principle as, mired in my diseased passion, I strove to get what I wanted, independent of God.

However, Divine Desire does not work that way.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Still, it doesn’t stop many from us from exerting ourselves over His sovereign plan.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3

Because I had actively chosen idolatry over a connected relationship with the Most High, I was getting harmful, counterfeit results.

And here was a revelation I hadn’t expected when I was at my lowest, two-digit weight: I was miserable.

What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.

Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, “Awake!” To a mute stone,”Arise!”

And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
And there is no breath at all inside it. Habakkuk 2:18-19

My idol had failed to make me forever happy, perfect and problem-free. My idolatry sold me life-threatening lies.

And that is what happens when our hearts run amok. Consumed by our chosen idols, we’re often unaware of what is happening.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

We are blinded, driven to self-destruction.

And this obscures yet another Truth, should we refuse to accept it. Our God is jealous.

“Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

This jealousy, however, does not come from a spiteful place. Rather, it emanates from a mind-boggling, eternal love, a love we’d benefit from if we chose the Most High God instead of our idols.

The LORD appeared to us… saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Perhaps this is why, we are given the opportunity to search, guard and deal with our hearts…

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

This opens the door for a richer relationship with the Divine.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19

It gives us the gift to discover who we truly are.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Since my rededication experience years ago, I have learned valuable lessons about about myself, my Creator and the personal meaning of an individual’s faith walk, even in the midst of tricky heart issues.

I would love to say it is a one-time “cure-all,” an experience in which we are instantaneously healed and spared from any other painful situation.
But that is unrealistic.

We need to deal with our unruly and vulnerable hearts, employing the Divine Answer of Jesus in John 14:27…

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

We must never forget our hearts are living creatures, capable of tremendous good…or evil.

At one time, my razor sharp, emaciated ribcage was a murderous beast, waiting to kill me. It was the manifestation of my deadly heart.
Indeed, my heart disorder was not far removed from the famous scripture, describing a prowling Satan…

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

This is the warning to us all. The heart is no small thing. It prompts us to desire and to respond. And the ramifications of that reality are not always pretty.

We are dependent upon the Most High God to help us govern, protect and guide our hearts through every life issue.

… guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

We cannot do this alone.

And if we believe we can, we only reiterate the Truth of Scripture, but to our own blind detriment…

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Elohim’s Word has been described as “the owner’s manual,” “the path of life and blessing” and “guardrails.”

Therefore, wouldn’t it be within our best interest to treat our every heart condition with it?

Each of us has a choice.

“… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Our wild hearts are the question. May we then allow The Most High to be our answer!

*Excerpt from Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”