Head and Heart…inspired by Matthew Perry

I’m listening to Matthew Perry’s memoir. Don’t worry book club, I’m not saying too much. But something he just said made me want to pause and write this down.

Matthew Perry’s early life is rough! So much abandonment and other issues. He decided at 10 years old to only live in his head and never his heart—you can’t be broken there, not yet anyway. No one was going to get near his heart, and he said that to himself at 10-years-old.

In a board meeting I attended shortly before I graduated seminary, we had a guest speaker who said head and heart people will have a hard time together. We needed to prepare for that and devise a plan for when, not if, this happens.The speaker caught me smiling while I was taking the minutes after he made that statement; I apparently smile loudly. He asked if I was head or heart since I responded to this statement (with a smile).

Everyone who knew me in the room: She’s all heart!

It was a funny moment I’ll never forget. I’ve never been called out for smiling before nor felt so seen & known in a public way.

In actuality I am a weird blend of head and heart, but I’m primarily heart, and I do struggle living in this world where most people are stuck in their heads. Every moment is an experience for me. It took me a while to realize not everyone experiences life this way. I was having dust ups with people not understanding why until I got to seminary and finally could see the difference.

This is one reason why some people love systematic theology and some people don’t. I like biblical scholarship better bc it’s bendier and gives me the mess and the heart of our ancestors’ message. This also makes me a good Baptist bc scripture comes first.

But I came around on Systematic theology, when I got paired with the right professor who understood me. So grateful for Dr. KBF! I got to be Lindsay with my theology and hold it loosely. Context, context, context. I’m already ready to write another Credo based on my current lives experience. I wasn’t going to make it in Systematics if we didn’t make a prof change, though. And now I understand better why—head and heart people can really struggle without understanding.

I also can see why people who live mostly in their heads like systematic theology. Systems give us something to live by. Being messy is harder to create some kind of form as to how we should live as Christians. It’s an anchor so we aren’t living in mass chaos with no form.

I get it so much better now looking back.

I wonder what it would be like if we let up on the tension of head and heart people and appreciated both for what they bring to the creation of this thing called life.

For people like me who like the mess, the experience, the ability to make mistakes and try again. And for those who keep telling people like me that we need to anchor somewhere and so we can have some kind of set guidelines. Or we need to choose one two ideas of your thousands.

Back to Matthew Perry. He brings up a good point that I haven’t even heard him expand on yet: he left his heart and got into his head believing he will be safe there at 10 years old. There’s only so many times you can handle abandonment and your heartbreaking. Gosh, I feel that. I was almost there too. But then he says, I can’t be broken in my head—at least not yet.

I think this moment in time we are living in is revealing how hard it is when a narrative falls apart that was believed in so hard in the head as absolute truth. People are reacting and it’s coming from their bodies with suppressed emotions.

Here lies the truth: we can’t avoid heartbreak, even repeated heartbreak.

We can love with all our heart so hard and get so hurt, over and over.
We can also believe so hard and get hurt, over and over.

We need better integration so we can manage our emotions or reactions without suppressing our emotions.

I have this picture hanging in my house. It’s a quote by my beloved Madeleine L’Engle.

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