Straight from a Racing Heart
By Lisa Elliott
There I was, browsing leisurely around the local Giant Tiger store, when I received a phone call from my daughter. “That’s strange.” I thought to myself when I saw Natalie’s name appear on my call display. She doesn’t usually call me. Rather, we typically text or Skype to communicate. Something must be up.
I answered the phone and didn’t quite catch what she was saying as her voice kept cutting out. I figured it was due to the noise and music surrounding me in the store. It took me a minute to register that our poor connection had nothing to do with my end of the phone. She was sobbing and could hardly speak.
“I think I’m having a heart attack!” were the first words I clearly made out. A heart attack?!!! What? At age 29? I listened intently as she described her symptoms: shortness of breath, racing heart, sweating through her clothes. My own heart began to race, and I began to sweat, feeling the paralysis of long-distance parenting. What on earth could I do with a three-hour flight between us?
With nothing but God-given strength and the support of my grocery cart, as calmly as I could, I coached her through the next few minutes. Deciding I would keep the conversation going on inside me to myself as my worst nightmare played out in my mind. These were all symptoms my 18-year-old son spoke of when he was diagnosed with leukemia nine years earlier.
I asked my daughter a series of questions to get as much information as I could without causing either of us anymore alarm. How was she getting to the hospital? Was her husband on the way? How long ago did she call him? What activity was she doing when she began having symptoms? What was the plan for her two-year-old and four-month-old boys? Did she have enough energy to get them ready for transport to the hospital when her husband arrived? I advised her to pack an overnight bag in case they admitted her. “Keep breathing.” I told her—telling myself to do the same.
Weeks later, I’m happy to say that she’s alive, but undergoing some close observation including: a full gamut of blood tests, a heart ultrasound, an EKG, chest x-ray, and heart monitors, along with a referral to a cardiologist. I’m breathing a little more easily knowing she’s getting the care she needs. Thankfully, her family physician is taking things very seriously.
When it comes to matters of the heart, we need to take things very seriously. It’s important to keep our heart in sync with the Lord’s. But it can be challenging. For me personally, if I’m not careful, I can get carried away doing things for the Lord He never asked me to do. My joy in serving Him is replaced by stress-induced palpitations. Adrenalin levels rise. My heart begins accelerating at an unhealthy rate.
People pleasing takes precedence, wrong motivation drives me, my sleep is interrupted, my head aches, my neck seizes, and I begin to sweat emotionally trying to keep up with everything I feel driven to accomplish. And for what? Or should I say for whom?
Experience—the hard way—has taught me the importance of regular heart-checks with the Keeper of my heart to keep my heart regulated. And He typically gets my attention through husband or my kids (and apparently no matter what age they are).
Here are some things I’ve learned to do for cardiac care you might want to consider for yourself:
- Stop: Listen to your body or your body will make you listen to it. Take intentional time to rest. Stop trying to be everyone’s saviour. Not one of us is indispensable. (Psalm 40:10).
- Take your pulse: What pace are you setting? Are you walking in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16)? Are you listening for His heartbeat? Are you following His prompting? Or are you committing to and working hard to make things happen that the Lord isn’t asking of you?
- Check your vitals: Take inventory of all your responsibilities, commitments, relationships, and activity.
- Are you busy and bothered by so many things and forgetting to focus on the one thing that is important? (Luke 10:38-42). Who’s paying the price for your busyness or wrong priorities?
- Set healthy boundaries: We all have limits. Accept them and learn to live within them. Even Jesus knew how to say, “No”. He didn’t hands on touch everyone who crossed His path. And He always knew when to pull away from the crowd to a quiet place for privacy, peace, and perspective (John 8:1).
- Seek help: Self-diagnosis is never good all on its own. You may need someone to speak into your life objectively. You may even need to seek professional help. Ultimately, we need to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33; 1 Samuel 16:7).
You see, we all have a heart condition. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” “Above all else, guard your heart” says Solomon, “For everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).” Cardiac care is evidently of utmost important to the Lord and is essential if we want to live fully the abundant life He offers us (John 10:10). And from time to time it doesn’t hurt to get our heart checked out. Asking the Lord to search us and know our hearts to see if there is any offensive way in us (Psalm 139:23).
Have you paid a visit to the Great Physician lately?
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org