A Heart Like His: Making Space for God's Love in Your Life (MP3 Download)(edit)
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The ability to feel God's love doesn't just make life nicer or more comfortable — it changes everything. When filled with God's love, we can do and see and understand things that we cannot do and see and understand on our own. As our own hearts are softened by these blessings, our overriding desire becomes to help others experience this joy also. But how do we do that in the normal course of our everyday lives? Presented in the form of an experiment undertaken by eight friends, this step-by-step guide helps us discover the one change we can make within ourselves that will automatically increase our ability to feel the love of God and to extend that love to others.
“Yes, this book is written for women. Yet, Pearce makes its content graspable for women everywhere. I love that is has been easy for me to share this book with some of my Christian friends active in other faiths. We could use more books like this.
I believe A Heart Like His is a book for women in all seasons of life — a must read that has the potential to transform lives. It did mine. Buy it, borrow it — somehow get your hands on it.” — Catherine K. Arvesth, Meridian Magazine
- "Splitting the Sky In Two"
- What Is and Open Heart?
- God's Love
- Extending God's Love to Others
- The Reciprocity of Open Hearts
- A New Heart Sources
About the Author
Virginia Hinckley Pearce is the author of the bestselling book A Heart Like His: Making Space for God’s Love in Your Life, and has edited and coauthored several additional books, including Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley. She has served as a counselor in the Young Women general presidency and on the general Primary board of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She and her husband, the late James R. Pearce, have six children and twenty-six grandchildren.
What Is an Open Heart?
And their hearts were open
and they did understand.
3 NEPHI 19:33
The heart is a physical organ. It is also the center of our emotional and spiritual life. Exactly how all the functions are connected no one understands, but there is an undeniable relationship. I cannot attempt to describe it for you, only how it feels for me. At the risk of sounding a little odd, I can tell you that I can actually feel my heart change its physical texture, size, and position, in relation to my spiritual condition. It gets hard and tiny and moves back behind my chest wall when I am angry and withdrawn and self-absorbed. On the other hand, when I am filled with love and reaching out to others, it softens and warms and moves forward—it is enlarged and full. Perhaps my mind is a trifle overactive, but the imagery works very well for me. After all, the scriptures use it—softened and enlarged, or hardened and cold—and so does Dr. Seuss, when he describes the Grinch’s heart as growing “three sizes that day.”4
These physical descriptors are critical for me to keep in mind because they are the signals I have come to rely on to help me know when I need
to make a change in my outlook and behavior.
When I was a young girl, I had the immense good fortune to take creative dance from Virginia Tanner, the American pioneer of children’s dance. My mother understood Virginia’s vision of dance—a belief in the beauty of creative expression. And although I and most of my friends did not become professional dancers, through her love of music and movement, Virginia taught us much about the beauties of life. I particularly loved the end of each class when we would put on our “Ginny Gowns.” They came in pastel colors and were made of soft, flowing fabric. And they were full. Yards and yards of cloth that swept along as we ran, leapt, and twirled to the lyrical music from the pianist in the corner of the large room.
These spontaneous dances were not choreographed, and I can still hear Miss Virginia’s voice urging us to make our own beautiful patterns. Echoing in my memory is her call to dance with our “magic eye.” That meant to open our arms, drop our shoulders, breathe deeply, and lift forward with our bodies.
I think of my magic eye when I feel I am shriveling inward, crunched up with irritation and harboring a closed, critical, hardened heart. It is a helpful physical image. As I physically drop my shoulders, breathe deeply, and expand my chest, it reminds me to drop my defenses and ask the Lord to open and soften my heart.
Body language not only describes how I feel, it communicates the same to others. If I lean toward someone who is
speaking, she feels my attentiveness and interest. Touching someone lightly can convey concern, while dropping my eyes can signal discomfort. If I move slightly away and fold my arms in a closed position in front of my chest I communicate a desire for distance.
I came in from my early morning walk some time ago, invigorated and ready to start my day. But as I turned into my driveway, the beauty of the morning evaporated, and the pressures of the day crowded in on me. Going through the back gate, I opened the kitchen door, and within seconds I had poured Cheerios into a plain white bowl, picked up a spoon, and opened the planner beside me, adding between hurried bites to my to-do list. Characteristically the list was much longer than the day, but I felt energetic and was just about to get on with it all when my husband started down the stairs, scriptures in hand.
“I don’t know what happened, but I’m just a few minutes early getting ready for work, and I’ve run onto the most amazing scripture.”
I should have seen that as a wonderful invitation, but, Martha-like, I was “careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41), and inside, this hard-hearted wife responded with an irritable edge. Well, isn’t that nice for you, but I’m already more than a few minutes behind with my day! I didn’t say that, because sometimes I remember how to talk nicely even when I feel otherwise, but I took my husband’s invitation as an intrusion.
“Oh, I’m really in a hurry,” I responded. “Can we do it tonight?” Mid-stairs, he cheerfully answered, “That’s fine. No problem,” and he turned around and went back upstairs.
But that is not the end of the story because by that time I was a seasoned experimenter, and it took only the amount of time for him to get back to the bedroom door for me to recognize that I had reacted out of a somewhat shriveled heart. I heard the conversation in my head: irritated, critical, and all about me. So I dropped my shoulders, took a deep breath, and let my heart grow just a little softer before I said, “Wait a minute, I’ll get my scriptures and be right up.” Remarkably enough, his heart had not hardened in response during those few intervening moments, and we had the sweetest five minutes, talking about a particular verse.
Experimenting with an open heart taught me that one of my personal red flags, one of the things that would help me recognize that perhaps my heart might need checking, is when I feel I can’t attend to someone because I’m too busy. Bad habit. And that’s all it is, I have discovered. Because an open heart isn’t really as much a matter of time as it is a matter of being present, available, and open to whomever is in my physical space at any given moment.
Several years ago I took my mother shopping for a winter coat. Shopping is not my favorite activity, and it was getting close to dinnertime before we finally found the right coat. It was a soft grey wool with raglan sleeves that hung way below her fingertips and a hem that brushed the tops of her shoes. The saleswoman sent for the alterations lady, who helped Mother onto the raised platform and went to work. I sank into a chair in the corner of the fitting room, lost in my own little world, wondering if I had time on the way home to stop at the grocery store to pick up something for dinner.
Gradually, on the edges of my consciousness, I began to hear a conversation. Mother would ask a question, and the alterations lady would answer. At first the answers were rather brief, but as the questions and interest from Mother continued, the answers became longer. The woman’s voice became more animated. By the time we left, the two of them were laughing together like old friends. And I was left out—a shriveled, self-absorbed, tired little soul in the corner. And withholding myself, I exited just as I had entered. I looked at Mother. She had come in just as weary as I but was leaving with an extra spring in her step.
Aha. Here was a discovery that
I didn’t recognize then, but when
I began to experiment years later, I thought back on that afternoon and identified a process that is repeatable: Opening one’s heart creates energy. Closing one’s heart depletes energy. As I sat in the corner of the dressing room with my little closed heart and thought about the list of things I still had to do, my fatigue increased. Mother looked down at the alterations lady and opened her heart by expressing an interest, and Mother’s energy increased. “Do you like your job? How long have you worked here? What about your family? Where are you from?” An open heart looks outward. A closed heart looks inward.
I learned something else about opening hearts from the coat-buying encounter. An open heart very often coaxes open someone else’s closed heart. It’s almost magical. An open heart presents a safe place that others sense, and they respond, sometimes immediately and sometimes much more slowly. No matter, however, whether they respond or not, because, in the meantime, we feel so much better living this way. Go ahead, experiment for yourself. That’s what this is all about.
1. I will be more aware of the condition of my heart, and with that awareness, seek to keep it more open toward others.
2. I will do this in the normal course of my life, in other words, not feel pressured to put any extra activities into my day—no extra visits, casseroles, etc.
3. I will notice the Spirit and be willing to honestly report what happened or didn’t happen. In doing so, I will try to understand my personal stumbling blocks and strengths.
Do these experimenting rules seem right to you, or would you like to modify them in some way? This is your experiment. Make it work for you.
Think of your own metaphor for a shriveled heart or an expanded heart. What image do you see that would be
Observe your physical approach to people. What is your body language saying? If you feel yourself withdrawing, putting up a wall, change your physical position and notice if it causes you to feel differently.
Take the initiative to get outside yourself and express an interest in those you encounter. Pray for the courage to do so.
During some of your personal scripture time you might want to reread Alma’s passages on experimentation (Alma 32), or you may want to look up scriptures that describe the heart in the Topical Guide.
A must-read book that will change you
by Customer - reviewed on September 19, 2008
This book is personal, humble, fun, with a message that is both easy and life-changing. If you really think about what this book says, and try to do it, your life will never be the same. IT REALLY WORKS! And it doesn't "cost" anything extra out of our busy lives. Try it!
by Greg - reviewed on March 16, 2007
This book was one of those life-changing reads. It was so full of simple profundity that I worked over for weeks. In summary The compassion, love, support and kindness that I extend to others in my everyday interactions allows me to feel the love of God more abundantly and links the receiver of my warm heart to God's love, also. I hope that the insights presented by Sister Pearce improve my interactions with others for the rest of my life.
A book well worth reading!
by Jan - reviewed on February 16, 2007
While visiting my daughter, I looked around for something to read and happened upon 'A Heart Like His' and decided to read a bit of it. There was no putting it down. It was such an amazing concept and yet so simple to apply to everyday life. I vowed when I got home that I would get the book for myself. But I also vowed that I would share my 'great find' with others and that I would give my wholehearted recommendation of this book here. So let me add my 'Amen' to what others have written and say 'I highly recommend this wonderful book'.
A Perfect Gift!
by Cathy - reviewed on May 20, 2009
The first time I read this book I loved it so much, I bought copies for all of my sisters! I have read it several times since then and gain new perspective with each new reading. I have used the concepts in Relief Society talks and lessons also. It has made me more aware of the condition of my heart toward everyone I meet. It is not a book that adds a bunch more things for us to do in our busy lives. It is just a lesson on keeping our hearts soft and open in our everyday interactions.
easy read~endless life application
by Kim - reviewed on March 26, 2006
I just finished A Heart Like His</i> in under a day. I just couldn't put it down! And I'm ready to re-read it, not just because it's an easy read but because it's a simple easy-to-understand principle that when applied to life will result in endless blessings. Sister Pearce is so eloquent in her writing in that she gives just enough for the reader's heart and the Holy Ghost to fill in the rest. And because the experiment has such an easy life application, I'll definitely be sharing this book with my walking and playgroup friends (and I couldn't be more excited)!!!
Motivating and simple
by Katrina - reviewed on October 16, 2008
This is a book that I should read on a regular basis. It's amazing how doing the simple things suggested can really change your life and how you view and act toward people. I especially like that she challenges all readers to experiment themselves. It really does work!
Great life changing book!
by Kristin - reviewed on September 14, 2006
I just loved this book. I finished reading it in one day, and since reading it for the first time I have read it 3 more times, and I received it just 9 days ago. Implimenting what this books shares with you will change your life, as well as the life of others around you. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I am reccomending it to everyone. You won't be sorry about reading this book. I am giving this book as Christmas presents this year, it will be the gift that gives for a lifetime.
by Randi - reviewed on October 08, 2008
Absolutley one of the best books I've ever read. How much more peaceful would this world be if we all tried in small and simple ways to have "A Heart Like His"!
One of my favorites.
by Customer - reviewed on December 05, 2012
This book changes my life every time I read it. Virginia H. Pearce is so real. There were some times I was sure she was writing about me. I felt so connected to what she was saying. I try to make the small, simple adjustments in my heart that she recommends, and I see the good it does. It works because it focuses on our own hearts. When we strive to change our heart, which steers our actions and motivations, and seek God's love to share, we cannot go wrong. This is a book for everyone.
Most amazingly, life changing read
by Jeannie - reviewed on February 15, 2011
This book has touched my heart more than any book I have ever read. I just hope that it will be a lasting change. The concept is so simple but so profound. I already see myself questioning my actions and trying grow my heart and bring it forward!! I want to share it with everyone--did buy it for my three daughters.
A superb book for opening our hearts to God's love.
by Nancy - reviewed on March 22, 2012
This book is superb. In the context of a very tough year, it has helped me to continue in opening my heart to God's love, and then passing it on.