amy patton


amy patton

Did that sexy title get ya? Were you drawn into reading what you hope to be a story of deceit, secrets and undercover detective work? Well, you came to the right place. This is a story of lies, control and getting ahead in this world. But the story is not about a cast of characters you have never met. The subject of the story is you and it’s me.

Over the past 10 years, I have had the privilege of mentoring girls one-on-one through various season of their lives. It has been such an honor that they have allowed me to sit with them in their pain and love them as best as I could. We have had lots of late night talks about life and love and God and 1990’s sitcoms. I would say the most asked question I have gotten over the years goes something like this: “Is it ok to ...?” Now, there are hundreds of possible ways to fill in that blank, but my answer is almost always the same.

“What is the motive of your heart?”

See, what these ladies wanted to know was is this behavior or that behavior permissible as a follower of Christ. But it is very possible for two humans to do EXACTLY the same behavior with one being right and one being wrong. What’s the difference? Motive. And what a difference it makes.

Need an example? I thought so. Let’s say my friend Diane, who is very wealthy and connected in the community has to have a surgical procedure. (She is also totally made up so don’t go stalking FB to find my rich friend Diane.) Becky and I decide we want to each bring her some food to help her out as she recuperates. Becky’s heart is to help out our friend and bless her family. My heart is focused on wanting Diane to think good things about me and hopefully let me into her fabulous world a bit more. Two meals. Two friends. Two very different motives.

Here is where the detective work comes in. We must examine the state of our own heart in situations that cross our paths daily. In disciplining our kids. In serving our husbands. In helping out a neighbor or ministering at church. And especially when we feel we have been wronged by someone close to us. When we have to have those tough conversations, are we coming from a place of anger or a place of reconciliation? We must shine the bright interrogation light in our own eyes and ask “Where is my heart? What is my motive?”

Why does motive matter? Because Jesus said so.

1 Samuel 16:7 says:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

And He knows. Sisters, He already knows when our heart’s desire is to live right and love well. He also knows when our bratty flesh is just throwing its toys. Who throws their toys when they don’t get what they want? Toddlers, that’s who. I know because I have one in my house right now and we have all gotten really good at ducking. If you and I want to grow up and move past hurling our emotional blocks at each other, we have got to become great at detective work.

In the big and small things of life, we must acknowledge all of our big feelings, and then set them aside to get to the root condition of our heart. There is a sorting out of the lies, wounds and desire for revenge, truth or justice. We must be willing to own our stuff if we ever want to find freedom from it. Asking ourselves questions like:

*What am I feeling?

*Why do I feel this way?

*What is my part in it?

*What actions am I considering taking?

*What do I hope to accomplish?

*Does this benefit all involved?

*How will all feel afterwards?

*Are my motives pure and noble?

In recovery, we call this doing a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This requires not only bravery, but a willingness to look at the seedy underbelly of our own hearts. But please, PUH LEASE hear me on this. It is SO IMPORTANT that you know God is not the judge on the case; He is our partner, who lovingly helps us sort thru the evidence and put the pieces in place. This is not fun work; it is messy and sometimes painful. However, it is the only way we can crack The Case of the Messed Up Motives and continue to grow in healthy relationship with humans and our sweet Jesus.