The turning point in this cradle Catholic’s re-conversion to her faith was when I heard something at a retreat during high school: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
The all-consuming desires of my heart at that time of my life involved getting my Big Crush to ask me to homecoming (he didn’t) and competing in dressage shows with my horse Orion (we did).
I remember vividly at that high school retreat having a powerful, joy-filled, heart-pounding moment of grace in which I realized that God loved me and that God had Big Plans for my life. Beyond the silly homecoming dance, God had a wonderful man in my future to fall madly in love with me and be my husband. And beyond training and showing my horse, God had great things for me to work for and accomplish in my life.
I realized that I had to focus my life on Him, and the rest would come to me, even things I didn’t know were desires yet.
Not that seeking your own happiness is always a bad thing. I certainly want to be happy. Actually, you could say that I believe that my best chance for happiness is with God. But with God, I have learned that happiness is linked with growing in all of those virtues that are to be found in fixing the focal point of your life outside of yourself and in God.
There are a lot of people out there, and in every age of history, for whom the advice to “follow your heart” hasn’t worked out very well. (In fact, the only people I’ve ever heard of who find success by following their hearts alone are Disney princesses.) I am not going to tell my children to go through life “following their heart.” I am going to tell them to go through life “[doing] whatever He tells you.”