Heartlips … August 26, 2012

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Abundance. A ten-year-old boy once defined the word as “having much of much.” It’s a pretty good description. It’s when the amount possessed exceeds the room provided and the contents begin to spill out. It’s why Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Do yourself a big favor. Replace the word “heart” with the word “emotions” every time you read it in the Bible, or even in literature. Because it’s what we are. It is the drastic uniqueness of our species above all other living organisms on Planet Earth. (A case can be made that your domesticated pet has an emotional connection with you but it would be speculation rather than being grounded in biological fact.)

But human beings are emotional. Not much is achieved in dealing with us until that understanding is brought to the forefront and is fully comprehended. Those who think we’re spiritual find themselves in a crying heap of despair, wondering why God has deserted them. Those who insist that we’re mental creatures are equally disappointed by a failing grade, occurring on a day when tension controls the atmosphere rather than the remembrance of study. And those who work so intently on preserving their physical well-being are left crippled by the anguish of pending events, forbidding movement.

We are emotional. Once that is fully placed inside of us as truth, we can begin to move forward and energize our spirits, renew our minds and allow our bodies to prosper.

Jesus also had another insight on “heart.” He said there was a danger that people could praise him with their lips but have their real emotions far from him. It explains why we often do things that we don’t want to do and perform them with insincerity.

Let us take this essay to distinguish the two types of abundance. Since we’re going to jabber, drawing off the multitude of content in our emotions, it might be nice to be aware of what is available, and maybe how to better determine that it is words of our choice instead of seepage from a dark place.

The two kinds of abundance are overflow and overwhelm. Overflow is a gushing of our own making and overwhelm is a flood that surprises us beyond our preparation. Let me give you an example.

A young woman came to me several weeks ago and said she had been raised in a household where her mother and father were always nervous, upset and frightened about calamity, especially finances. So every time she sat down to pay the bills, even though there was money in the account to do so, she was terrified and expressed belligerence to her family. She was overwhelmed. The idea of money had been taught to her as a negative rather than a blessing. So even when she had it and possessed the means to care for herself, what came out of her emotions, and even out of her speech, was anger and frustration.

Here is a truth: all of us, when we’re overwhelmed, live, act and speak what we were trained to do by our culture, family and schooling when we were too young to resist the tutelage. Now that we have the choice, we’re often unaware of the need to avoid the reaction. If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed, you will act just like your parents. Even though some of that may be good, none of it is your choice.

The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is to walk through our heart every morning and take an inventory of what is ours and what is fear. Because when fear has its way, we will become overwhelmed, and what will spill forth from us is a pre-determined, pre-programmed and pre-arranged decision to a perceived problem.

What we want is overflow. It is why the Bible tells us that it is important to find things that are good, praise-worthy and a blessing, and to think on those things–to allow ourselves to be saturated with inclinations of our own choosing rather than being overwhelmed and ending up overwrought.

We have mouths which eventually will speak, but we also have lips, which articulate much more clearly. It is the heartlips that we must focus on if we want to establish our individuality and become a person who is truly born again and righteously separated from our culture–a new creature.

I was driving down the freeway one day and missed my exit. Instinctively, I yelled, “Shoot!” and pounded the steering wheel once before going down a quarter of a mile and turning around to exit correctly. I realized that this particular outburst had absolutely nothing to do with me. Oh, of course, I was responsible for it; I was the one who actually uttered the words and struck the helpless wheel. But because I believed I was in a hurry and I was tired, I was suddenly overwhelmed by my mistake–angry–and gave the same reaction my father, brothers and numerous friends had showed me as a child growing up. I was overwhelmed–and when I was overwhelmed, I became the someone else’s vision of life instead of my own. It was ugly.

This I can guarantee you–if you allow your frustrations, misgivings and disappointments to build up, you will become overwhelmed, and what will pour forth from you is some of the poison you learned before you were able to deflect bad choices.

So how can you guarantee that the abundance of your heart will be an overflow instead of an overwhelm?

1. In the morning, don’t immediately leap out of your bed. Ask yourself one question before you put your feet on the ground. How do I feel about how I feel? You’ll be surprised. The first thing that will come to your mind is fear and frustration. That tells you that you’re about to be overwhelmed instead of giving forth from the reservoir of your own overflow.

2. Never interact as long as you know that fear is present. Fear is a cheap replacement for love. It is why our family members will often say they’re “worried” about us instead of hugging us, wishing us well and telling us they love us. We know that worry is not love, yet people often offer it as a replacement. It is not. Never pass on fear. Wait for love to come to the surface and then impart that gift to them.

3. Read your own lips. Since your heart HAS lips, learn to notice what your emotions are trying to speak to you. I realize that some of my over-eating is emotional. It is a replacement. But for what? You see, that’s the fun of our journey–discovering what we’re doing to replace what we really want. Read your own lips. When I grab for that extra snack at night, isn’t it just a proclamation that I’m bored and a little dissatisfied that I don’t have enough to do? Could be. It’s worth considering.

4. And finally, when you do become overwhelmed, identify it immediately and confess to yourself and someone else that you just allowed something to be expressed that really wasn’t what you wanted. Fear demands a unique treatment. It must be identified, confessed and then taunted by good cheer.

We all have heartlips. Because we’re emotional, we express our abundance, which is either an overflow–a stockpile of our own choices–or an overwhelm, an instinct to parrot what has been placed within us by our upbringing.

For I will tell you this–I love my parents, I love my family, I love my faith and I love America. But none of them are entitled to define my emotions.

My heart is my own, and I will determine my overflow.

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