Verse 19: “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.
”The heart of flesh is a feeling heart. It has life; it quickens; it stirs. It is not passive, inert like stone. We are born with a heart of flesh that makes itself known in our desires, impulses, longings, images, dreams, and gut/body knowing. As we experience other’s disapproval or disdain, or we meet obstacles in acting from our heart, the heart of flesh can become a heart of stone. In this case, the stone represents a coldness and hardness to life.
Our life force becomes blocked, stagnant. It begins to rot in negative feelings, images, and thoughts. Our actions don’t flow from the truth of our nature. We give up following the path we know is right for us. We end up confused. We go along with the people around us even when it feels wrong in our hearts and minds. We find ourselves half-hearted, not whole-hearted, about who we are, our relationships, our day-to-day lives, because the totality of who we are is not present. We give up being clear-hearted, full-hearted, and strong-hearted out of fear of rejection or abandonment. In the meantime, we are abandoning ourselves.
Carl Jung talked about an organic process called the Transcendent Function. The Transcendent Function provides a unifying, or uniting, third when we can consciously hold the tension of opposites within us. The opposites may be as mundane as wanting to lose weight by passing up sweets yet craving your favorite dessert.
Wherever we are in conflict about what we think, feel, or want to do, we can identify two opposing bits. When we can flesh out the opposing desires, see the bit of our self/ego and Self (totality of our psyche/soul) in each, Self/God Within can activate the Transcendent Function and something in us shifts. It is as if we are given “an undivided heart” and a new spirit.
To move towards the undivided heart, we must be willing to feel, know, and relate to the split up pieces of our soul as they show themselves in our feelings, moods, thoughts, images, fantasies, experiences, etc. Yet we have been taught to deny and pretend we don’t feel certain ways by a culture that has demonized aspects of the human experience (such as, anger, sexual desire, allegiance to our soul over the outer collective). This denial has divided our hearts and souls. To stay whole, we need to see and accept what we are experiencing internally. Then the split-off bits of self can be reintegrated.
I often use the image of a pie. Disowned or denied pieces float around disconnected from the center and are not part of the whole pie. Floating feelings, thoughts, images, etc. are disconnected from the whole and have a lot more volatility, unpredictability, and power than those connected to the center. Every felt sensory experience has its rightful place.
When we consciously relate to what goes on inside us, Self/God Within has a chance to heal the conflicts. Our ego’s part is to stay with the tension and struggle of the opposites, with an eye towards understanding each fully and deeply. In this way, we invite the Transcendent Function.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the state of your heart. Where do you feel divided? Hold the image of being strong-hearted, full-hearted, clear-hearted, and whole-hearted. Be willing to look at and relate to whatever feelings, desires, images, and thoughts keep you from this unity. Invite God Within to help you flesh out what needs to be known, and to hold any seeming opposites. In this way, open to the unity of your psyche/soul.