Updated: Oct 31, 2019
I had a life event over six months ago. I had a mild heart attack. I went to the doctor because I had a burning in the back of my throat which wasn't helped with antacids. He thought I might have an ulcer in my esophagus. I asked if he thought it might be my heart and he said he didn't think so, but that they would draw blood to check my Troponin levels and do an EKG. He came back in and with wide eyes told me I need to get to the ER as my heart was in distress.
My mother died at the age of 51 from a heart attack. I had googled heart attack before I made the doctor appointment. I suspected it was my heart.
I ended up having a 100% blockage in one of my back arteries and a 50% blockage in one of the front arteries. They inserted a stent in my one artery, gave me a stack of prescriptions, sent me home, and then off to 12 weeks of cardio rehab.
Initially my cardiac event (doctors call heart attacks that now) was no big deal to me. My attitude in the hospital and when I first got home was great! Very positive. Very nonchalant. I wasn't afraid. Not at all. I know where I stand with God. I'm good to go if it is my time. It scared my family, but as for me I took it in stride. At first.
It didn't take long for my attitude to go South. About a week after my heart attack my attitude changed to this big old pity party I had for myself. Instead of being grateful my heart issue was caught early and fixed, I began to dwell on the changes I was going to have to make.
I became angry.
My son asked me why the attitude? Why wasn't I grateful? I could not answer him.
This was a major life change for me.
I am petite and thin. So I have always eaten whatever I wanted. I wanted pizza or ice cream? I ate them. French fries and a Big Mac? I ate them. I had an addiction to coffee and sweet tea. Women talk incessantly about what they put in their mouth. I've been leading a women's Bible study group for over a decade now so I know! Gluten free. Diets. Weight loss. Calories. The latest food fad. And I ignored it all. I truly didn't pay attention except to note they were struggling. I didn't read food labels nor did I know how to read them. Suddenly I had to watch what I ate. Suddenly my mind became a battleground about what to put in my mouth. And it pissed me off! Grocery shopping became a nightmare. It took so long to stop and read every label. I had not a clue what I should buy and in the soup aisle (all had high sodium) I began to cry. Over soup! I was so very ignorant. I promptly checked out with my few measly items and tears running down my face.
I didn't exercise. A lot of you are into exercising. Nope, not me. Not into it. I am a slug to be honest. Maybe I wasn't motivated because I never worried about my weight. I am one to get up, get my cup of coffee and spend time in prayer and Bible reading and on this website before I head out into the world. Those were the things I valued and I prioritized. Having to exercise pissed me off too. The exercise was taking away time from what I wanted to do. I wanted to be healthy, but I didn't want to actually have to exercise to do it.
I went from not ever getting sick, rarely going to the doctor, having low blood pressure my entire life, not even taking vitamins to having a pill box full of pills I must take every day. This sucked out the wazoo! Honestly. I hated that pill box. Hated it. And the side effects from the medicine were brutal. All of a sudden this weird stuff was going on with my body. Being on medicine was a huge adjustment.
I struggled and for awhile I didn't act very Christ-like. I wallowed in self pity.
I then pulled my big girl pants up and started to pour myself into changing my life. I graduated from the 12 week cardio rehab program with honors! No, not really. I made that up. But I did get incredibly great numbers on my blood work.
I'd like to say I have stuck with everything I learned in cardio rehab. I continue to refuse to make some changes I know I need to make. The food part has pretty much stuck. My taste buds actually did change like they said they would. I've adjusted to my new reality of taking daily medicine. The exercise part has fallen by the wayside as I am generally back into slug mode. I know I need to change that and some other things around.
There are some things I've taken away from weathering this life event with regard to my Christian faith.
I am surprised how un-Christian-like I became for quite awhile. I was unthankful and angry and I see that as profound sin. I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I didn't ask God for His help. I may know what the Bible says, but when push came to shove I threw it out the window for about five weeks. I focused on what I was losing and not what I had been given. The Bible tells us to be thankful in all things and sadly I chose to ignore that. Maybe next time I face some life event (and there will be a next time), I will remember what I should do and what not to do. Unless we practice our faith it does us no good.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This experience upped my level of compassion for others. Life changes are hard to make and I often slip back into my old ways. And then I beat myself up. So many things are an ongoing battle for me. Old habits are hard to break. It is too easy to hear Satan's voice that I am failing and I am a failure. I have to constantly remind myself who I am in Christ and to ask for His help battling these strongholds I have. Very humbling. I get now what other people have been talking about and I hope I am more encouraging to them now. I'm certainly sympathetic.
Time has become precious. As I've aged and experienced life I continue to gain perspective on what is truly valuable. This experience only added to it. We all know our days are numbered, but this made it real for me and gave me a renewed sense of urgency to make the time I have left be significant - to have purpose. I don't want to waste one single moment.
We all go through life events. We all struggle with some thing(s). And how we weather our life events has a lot to do with our Christian walk. Each life event can pull us closer to the Lord or it can hinder our relationship with Him. You have a choice on how you will react. And when you seem helpless to be thankful or struggling to remain positive, talk to God about that. We often get stuck in a bad place because we are trying to do life on our own power and not His.
I wanted to be genuine with you. Some people think that Christians should always have their life together. We don't. I certainly didn't navigate this life event in the best way possible. Give each other grace. Show compassion. Lift each other up. Let God be the one to do work on us. Pray for us and be there to hold our hand.
If you are struggling with life changes right now, ask for His help. Turn to Him, the Giver of all strength and comfort.