Living with Your Whole Heart

heart photo by CarbonNYC

photo by CarbonNYC

I stand in the cereal aisle at my grocery store. Box after box stares back at me. Each one promises benefits: whole grain, low fat, full of vitamins. By the time I put one in my cart, my head is spinning.

Later as I look at my schedule and feel the same way. So many good opportunities each with their own benefits: new friends, growing a skill, learning more. By the time I close my calendar, my heart is spinning too.

We live in a world of choices and so many of them are wonderful. But we simply can’t do it all. And there’s a price to pay when we try: we end up living half-hearted lives.

After a particularly busy season, a cold knocked me out for a few days. I had time to do some thinking as well as praying. And it seemed I heard little challenge inside: “Girl {yes, sometimes the Spirit has a southern accent in my head} it’s time for you to live whole-hearted.”

Now of course I didn’t hear an audible voice {and if I had I do realize the southern accent would be gone}. But I did feel led to look at what Scripture said about living wholehearted and how that applies to my busyness.

Two verses really stuck out to me out of the many that applied:

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Mark 5:37

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. Col. 3:23

When I read those, I realized a lot of the time I did live half-hearted. In other words, I would say “yes” on the outside when my heart wasn’t in it. I imagine you’ve experienced the same.

So what do we do? I believe that when we have a decision to make we can ask ourselves these three things…

1) Can I say a wholehearted “yes” to this?

2) If not, can I say a wholehearted “no” instead?

3) If not, how can I change my “yes” or “no” to a wholehearted one?

For example, someone might ask you to go to lunch. You love the person but know that accepting would impact your other commitments. Part of your heart says “yes” and the other part says “no.” You realize that next week is a lot less crazy in your world and that you could say a wholehearted “yes” if the date could change. So you propose an alternate time.

Or maybe someone wants you to be involved in a service opportunity that doesn’t fit your strengths. That triggers an idea of an area where you would actually like to serve more. So you say a wholehearted “no” to the first opportunity and pursue the other one instead without guilt.

Last week your “do what you can” step for your God-sized dream was to figure out what you needed less of in your life so that you could embrace more of what God has for you {including your dream}. If there are areas of your life where you’re half-hearted, then that’s the perfect place to start looking for what you can decrease. Say a wholehearted “no” so you can say a wholehearted “yes” to your God-sized dream. I’m looking forward to hearing what you choose when you link up tomorrow or share in the comments!

You’ll know when you’re living wholehearted because you’ll experience more joy, energy and enthusiasm about what you’re doing. We’re told our hearts “are the wellspring of life.” In other words, they’re the source of everything in our lives.

And when your heart can pour out freely there’s no stopping God’s plans for you! And that’s a benefit no cereal or circumstance can beat.



  1. says

    Half-hearted…a point to ponder. Off to play my way through this day, and I will think and pray on that for tomorrow’s blog entry. Off to see his glimmers of grace! Thank you Holley for your posts!

  2. Donna says

    Revelation from this scripture about qualifying our yes or no, So true that anything we add is coming from a wrong heart, maybe even a lie….. thanks!

  3. Susan says

    So timely for me. Seems as of late, I have been doing so many things halfhearted. Time to reevaluate and do that one thing wholeheartedly. I pray for His Wisdom to know what that one thing is. Thank you, Holly.

  4. Gina Smith says

    Good morning Holley!
    I am very grateful for your shared insight and wisdom. Thank you for loving us and desiring to help us walk out in faith with a whole hearted Yes devotion to our God and the courage to say no to the lesser good and hold on to the best.
    May The Lord keep you encouraged and continue to bless the work of your hands. In Jesus name, Amen!

  5. Amy says

    Awesome advice and encouragement. My question is how can we know when to decipher between our “feelings” and doing the right thing? Because our feelings, i.e emotions should not dictate our actions, I believe.
    For example; you’re offered a job making more money, which you need, but it’s not the type of job you want to be in. So you “feel” like its not for you, but you know it is an opportunity God most likely presented to you, so you decide to obey God, after you pray on it of course, despite how you “feel” because you know God has your best interest and what He has planned for you is far better than you could ever imagine. I believe it’s part of submitting my whole life to him, giving him access to EVERY area of my life, including all my decisions.
    Thank you for your daily encouragements Holley, they are always so uplifting and encouraging.
    God Bless you abundantly!

    • says

      I will ponder what you expressed….very thought provoking about making
      decisions that are necessary amongst emotions.
      Im involved with a voluneer committment 2x/wk and I no longer feel wholeheartedly committed. I am with this one person, only. I feel she is sucking energy from me. After reading, Holly’s words, today, I feel braver in perhaps meeting with this person for this volunteer committment, 1x a wk, with a set boundary on the amt of time, I am willing to give…. chris

  6. Ilene Yates says

    Love your devotions – they really do lift me! I knew you would want to know that today’s devo has an incorrect scripture – it should be Matthew 5:37 instead of Mark 5:37. Have a blessed day!

  7. Brenda Beaumier says

    Thank you for calling me to open the scriptures this morning!! You meditation caused me, too, to pray for my niece who most recently quoted to me “let your yes be yes.” I believe you mean Matthew 5:37 though. You have lifted my heart today. Hugs!

  8. says

    Oh. My. Stars. That verse from Mark… was just what I needed to hear today. I made a big (and I mean HUGE) decision a few weeks ago to move forward in an area to which I feel God calling – this decision hinges so much on God’s goodness and faithfulness, and, really isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? And this morning when a perfectly good plan (at least at the time it seemed good) to help facilitate this step was shot down my first instinct was to question my decision. And then I read this “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” That’s right… the questions, the doubt the unsurity… straight from the flames… So continuing to give a wholehearted YES to this decision… Thank you Holley!

  9. Lynn Morrissey says

    Thank you for an excellent post. I love your juxtaposition between living wholeheartedly and half-heartedly. It’s ultimately impossible to live wholeheartedly–loving God with *all* our heart, mind, soul, and strength, in this fallen world with our personal frailty….and yet, as we seek wholeheartedness, I believe that God will strengthen us. And I love this idea of relinquishing half-hearted pursuits, which would then allow us to give our whole hearts to God’s desires for us. I love, too, that being whole is really knowing that we are whole, or complete, in Christ. Wholeheartedness is really about living fully surrendered to Him. Bless you, Holly,for such beautiful sharing.

  10. Elvira says

    Thank you Holley for the message, it was just for me. I need to learn how to say no because most of the time I want to please everyone and that’s imposible.
    Thank you again and may the Lord bless you!!!

  11. Ana says

    I love how you expressed yourself in today’s blog Holley. I know too often how my heart feels when I’m “lukewarm” and I don’t know whether I should “wholeheartedly” say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without my heart really feeling it. I love how you say it:

    “You’ll know when you’re living wholehearted because you’ll experience more joy, energy and enthusiasm about what you’re doing. We’re told our hearts “are the wellspring of life.” In other words, they’re the source of everything in our lives.”

    And this makes me very happy too!


  12. Patti Gearhart says

    thank you for another wonderful way to start my day. I am new to your site. I am following closely and encouraged by your words. It helps to remember that it is OK to say no. We ( I ) feel , so much of the time, if I am asked , then I “should ” say yes. Thank you for the reminded…I don’t have to do everything.

  13. says

    You offer words of wisdom here, that confirm what God has already been speaking to my heart. I take every 7th week off of blogging and social network, and I’ve just come off my week of rest. I find that week helps me re-evaluate my “yes and no.”

    Love this! :)

  14. says

    I have fallen behind on this wonderful study – due to health reasons, but I will soon be up to speed! Today I needed to read this one – I praise God for urging me not to go back read the older articles but to read this one first. A meaningful opportunity came up to serve God in a remarkable way – one that I never considered would come my way because it does require a commitment, but I want to serve Him with my “whole heart” and as I read this article I know that if this is where God is leading me, He will provide for my needs and equip me to serve Him and if not then I will be confident with either me saying a wholeheartedly no or God saying no.. God is indeed awesome! Patty

  15. Nancy says

    I love the blog entry as usual! Thanks Holly for the practical & wise words.

    For anyone who’s interested… (& maybe some of you already know about this show) re: really good info. about grains/tie-in since you were looking at cereal nutr. info @ the store :) … check!! (really interesting/ hosted by Doug Kaufman).
    happy & healthy thoughts & prayers to all. N xox

  16. says

    What a perfect litmus test for opportunities (especially for someone who says “yes” TOO much)! I really resonate with the one about meeting up with friends. It’s always such a quandary when time with a friend I love doesn’t fit in my schedule. I LOVE the idea of entering into everything WHOLE vs half-heartedly! Thanks, Holley!

  17. says

    Holley, I do not have the commitments I had when I was younger (and before I was ill), yet I have found myself knowing there are things that I have to change or do differently. I have not been caring for myself like I should, because my brain actually gets overwhelmed by my illness and the things I am doing. In fact, I will probably be mentioning some of this in what I write tomorrow. Thinking very slowly and having a hard time writing right now, so signing off. God bless you. I will be praying about my yeses and no’s. Thank you for listening to the Lord.

  18. Lydia says

    Beautiful! What beautiful wisdom. Thank you, Holley!
    It is hard to decide sometimes. I get trapped into doing what gives me joy instead of doing what I am supposed to get done. I am learning to balance both and have to take my “big girl” pill. Thank you for your inspiring thoughts!

  19. Janis says

    Wise words yet again Holley – thank you !
    Life is too busy, with too many half done, half hearted projects on the go. We need to discern wisely & sometimes the right answer is no, and how often I struggle to say or admit this. We can’t be all things to all people or we end up not being the “whole person” that God created us to be.. I’ll remember these words because our wholehearted commitment is so much better for all – and no doubt will have a smile remembering it the next time I’m in the cereal aisle.
    Wholehearted blessings to you dear Holley x

  20. Jen says

    Hi Holley,
    Thanks for your great emails. I have been feeling a bit low lately and you have helped me see things in true perspective. Thanks again from an Australian.

  21. karyn says

    I totally agree with you on this matter. Only do a little but do it with a passion or don’t do it at all. Depending on our gifts. Do what we are good at 100% for go for something someone wants at 40%. You are right. With heart and passion. Like JESUS.

  22. says

    Such a good reminder Holley, to do EVERYTHING whole-heartedly…so easy to let the demands of a busy life make us forget. Love your practical advice on make HOW to live with your whole heart <3

  23. Lindia Lentz says

    As with most people, this is what I needed to hear tonight. I didn’t read all my emails earlier tonight—went to bed a while ago, but couldn’t sleep–because I have a cold (!!). So I got back up to have an apple and catch up on my emails. I have changes coming up in my life, and this definitely gives me some awesome direction. It’s “yes” or “no”—–thanks for the great inspiration!!

  24. says

    Amen, girl! I actually wrote a post a while back on “the holy no” – saying no because that is what the Spirit is telling you. He’s been working on me with this saying-yes-to-everything-itis I have. Thanks for your sweet, encouraging words! :)

  25. says

    I think offering a different option when you have to say “no” is brilliant. “No. I can’t help with that project, but I would totally love to help with this one.” Still helping…

  26. Betty says

    Thank you for this reading as it helped me as when we should say no we feel so guilty when asked to do some thing or when we say yes so as to not feel guilty it is not a good feeling .I will remember this when some thing comes up the next time .
    Thank you dear holly.

    Hugs Betty

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