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Facts and Feelings

Exodus 28:30
“And in the breastpiece of judgement you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgement of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.”

The dichotomy between mind and heart, or facts and feelings as some address it today, continues to be a contentious one in society, especially where justice is concerned. That is, facts and feelings—or the head and the heart—aren’t always calibrated correctly.

My wife and I used to lead a special needs class on Sunday mornings at church, and one of the girls in that class had an amazing obsession with fantasy worlds. Melissa was a wonderful artist and writer, and she’d come to class every Sunday with new pages in her ongoing epic to show off. Her imagination was truly incredible, but there was just one little problem with it: she was lost in her stories. Her identity was a synthesis between the real world and her imagined one, and we noticed that she’d bristle every time we read a Scripture about God loving girls like her. She didn’t like being human. She thought of herself as one of the animalistic characters in her story, not as a girl in the image of God, so her perception of the facts, along with her connection to them through fiction, was jumbled.

We had a dilemma as teachers. We could’ve followed our heads and said matter-of-factly, “You’re a human, Melissa—that’s what you are, period—stop calling yourself an animal!” Or, we could’ve followed our hearts and just referred to her by whatever name she felt comfortable with. Yet both would’ve been poor judgment. It took time and patience and a lot of prayer, but God gave us grace to walk slowly with Melissa, to gently help her to understand that being human is a beautiful thing, and it was a wonderful day when she finally came to accept herself as a girl in the image of God.

Friend, in Christ, justice is a breastpiece on the heart as well a crown on the head. We need to calibrate truth with love, justice with empathy, judgment with compassion in our evangelism, in our parenting, in our work, even in our politics. Let’s ask the Lord to help us do that today.