Heart Disease

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Articles | 0 comments

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10


I have a bad heart.  Medically speaking, I’m perfectly healthy.  My blood pressure is a near-perfect 110/71; my cholesterol is within a normal range; my BMI is a normal 18.  My pulse is steady and regular.  No, medically speaking, my heart is strong and healthy.  My spiritual heart, however, is diseased and weak.  I became acutely aware of this last week and the realization was overwhelming.


One text or phone call from a particular person sends me into a near rage.  (No, it isn’t you, so don’t think I’m picking on you in my blog!  This person, I think I can safely say, would not be reading this!)  The only time they ever contact us is to complain about something or ask for something.  They irritate me to the point of hysteria.  I typically let my husband handle them, but once in a while it falls to me to answer the call.  My typical response:  “You’ll have to talk to Eric.”  And for hours, my blood boils and I stew in negativity.  We had the pleasure of their contact last week, more than once.  My blood boiled right into the weekend.  I fumed and raged and complained.  I took those feelings along with me to my book table Friday evening.


The kids in the park were especially irritating Friday night.  Parents had to yell, vendors had to reprimand.  One of the vendors appeared to be getting intoxicated at her booth, her behavior deteriorating as the evening wore on.  Customers were rude, teenagers were inconsiderate, cars drove too fast, trucks were too loud.  Added to it all was another text from “that person,” increasing my rage and further darkening my mood.  I was ready to scream before the night was even close to being over.  “Did they open the flood gates at the mental ward today? ” I asked Eric as we packed up my booth (half an hour early – I couldn’t take anymore!).  He just smiled and shrugged, loaded my canopy, table and box of books into the car.  By the time we got home, I hated everyone and everything, including myself.


Saturday morning, I awoke exhausted.  I hardly slept the night before, my mind consumed with the events of the previous week.  I couldn’t get out of my mind the repeated contact from my irritant.  I had all sorts of possible future responses concocted, should I have the “pleasure” of being the one stuck dealing with them, should they contact us again.  None of them were nice.


My mind shifted to my work.  I hadn’t sold a single book Friday night.  None of my potential speaking engagements had gotten back to me.  No one had followed up with me on possible book signings.  I didn’t get it.


“God, I don’t understand.  How can I go about doing Your work if the opportunities don’t arise?  How am I supposed to do this if people don’t get back to me?”  I shook my head in wonder.  “What more should I be doing, Lord?”


“You have a bad heart.  I can’t use a person with a bad heart.”  In a matter of seconds, all of my negative, condescending, critical thoughts from the market Friday night flew through my mind.  My planned terrible responses to “that person” flashed through my thoughts.  The rage and hysteria I felt over their calls and text messages swelled up in me and crashed against my chest like a hurricane.


“Oh, God!”  I sunk into my chair, weakened by the reality of the person I had allowed myself to become over the previous days.  “Oh, God, help me!”


“You have to love them, Eileen.  You have to love them as I have loved them.  You can’t minister to people on my behalf if you can’t see them the way I do.  This week, you haven’t extended the slightest bit of grace.  Instead, you’ve allowed one person to fill you with such rage and bitterness that it overflowed onto everyone around you.  I can’t let you do that.  I can’t let you wound the already hurting with your carelessness.  You have to give it to Me, let me handle this.  You have to get your heart right – now!”


I closed myself in my office for a portion of the afternoon.  I didn’t like myself.  The slide show God had projected made me hate everything about myself.  I couldn’t stay like that.  “God, work it out in me, please.  Show me what to do.”


“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:1-2 & “…bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  II Corinthians 10:5b


Renew your mind and take every thought captive…hmmm.  Those things take practice.  “Okay, God.  Here I am.  I present myself to You; make me holy and acceptable to you.  Renew my mind and take captive my thoughts.  I can’t do it on my own.”  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I listened to worship music.  I felt a little bit better, but not much.  It was Sunday at our church picnic that I began to feel something happening.


I related my problem to one of my closest friends at church.  She’s someone I trust and feel comfortable talking to.  She shared with me a situation from her past that was remarkably similar to my own.  “Eileen, what God showed me was that I had to surrender it to Christ.  I had to realize that I deserved God’s grace less than the person in my life I was withholding grace from.  I had to come to the place where I said to God ‘I can’t give them the grace you’re asking me to give – not on my own.  God, through me, give them grace.’  Then and only then was I able to let go of the rage and tension I felt every time I had to deal with my own irritating person.  I still have moments when I fall short, but by the mercy of God, I’m not consumed anymore.  It’s getting better.”


Sunday evening, I prayed a prayer similar to my friend’s.  The rage and bitterness fell away.   A peace and a gentleness I hadn’t felt in days came over me.


I’m on the road to recovery.  I know it isn’t over.  I know the phone is going to ring or a text is going to come through.  I know my blood will begin to boil.  But, I also know that if I pause and pray for God’s grace over me and the individual, He will bring me through it.  I will, only by that grace, be able to get through it without being consumed.


“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

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