I wrote this blog over two years ago. I see I updated it nine months after that and I still did not publish it, but I held onto it in my "draft" box. I am feeling led by the Spirit to share it today. Recently a friend of mine and I were encouraging someone who has breast cancer. My friend had breast cancer and experienced a roller coaster of emotions. She wrote to this woman: "Whatever emotions you're having, though, are OK. Emotions aren't right or wrong. They're just feelings. I have found comfort and even at times great joy sharing my raw emotions with God."
Three years after my heart attack I am mentally and spiritually in a good place. Physically not so much. Sigh. I can't get it all right at the same time.
I wrote this post on January 23, 2019. About 9 months ago. I just found it in my trash bin. Apparently at the time I wrote it I was in a bad place. I trashed it because I think I decided it was too personal to share with you. I'm no longer in that bad place, thank the Lord. I've decided to share this now because:
I recently wrote a blog about Christians not acting Christian and I did include myself in that blog by the way. I know I sometimes act un-Christian-like.
Maybe this will encourage you some way if you are going through a difficult time.
There seems to be this perception that we Christians think we are better than you are. Like it is some competition to be holier-than-thou. That we are judging you. That you think we always have it together and always do the right thing. Maybe this one will make you realize that we struggle with sin like everyone else.
Today is the one year anniversary of me having a heart attack. I don't have any profound words for you in this post. (Do I ever have profound words? Ha.) I guess I'm writing this for me. To remember. To think about it.
It's been a weird year for me.
Decades ago my mother died of a heart attack three days after her 51st birthday. So very young. Her death messed with me and not in a good way. Her death affected me from that point forward.
When I hit 51 I thought, 'This is the age my mother was when she died.' ... When I hit 53 I thought, 'I've made it 2 years longer than my Mom did.' ... As each year went by that was my thinking.
My Dad had a heart attack and had stents put in.
Because both of my parents had heart attacks I knew I should take better care of my heart. I didn't. I knew I should exercise and eat better. I knew. But I didn't.
I appear to be a healthy person. I'm petite. I'm never sick. I'd go to the doctor about every 4 years for a physical. I just don't look like the kind of person who would have a heart attack. But I knew it was a real possibility for me.
Here's what happened. On Tuesday night I made Chicken Fiesta and had a bit of heartburn afterwards which was very unusual for me. On Thursday night I made Jambalaya (haven't made it since and I love my Jambalaya with andouille sausage) and again felt heartburn. Saturday night my husband and I went out with another couple and I ordered a chicken quesadilla. I felt fine. That night I woke up at 1 am with severe burning in the back of my throat. Hardly slept that whole night. Sunday I was greeting at church and I needed to pick up a prayer blanket for someone. Headed to church and smiled and welcomed. By that afternoon I was still feeling weird. Went and talked to the pharmacist who recommended I take a certain kind of stomach antacid. I did. No relief. Sunday night my son told me you should go to the doctor. I started googling my symptom - severe burning in the back of my throat. By Monday I thought it might be my heart. I don't know why I suspected that. Severe burning in the back of your throat is not a symptom for a heart attack. I called and made a doctor's appointment.
Tuesday morning I saw the doctor. He thought I might have an ulcer in my esophagus. I asked him if he thought it might be my heart. He said no, but they were going to draw blood and do an EKG. He came back in with wide eyes and said I needed to get to the ER as my heart was in distress.
I had a mild heart attack because one artery was 100% clogged. They put a stent in it. I have some blockage in another artery. Sent me home with a bunch of medicine and signed me up for 12 weeks of cardio rehab.
I had to make life changes:
Eat heart healthy.
Practice stress reduction.
Take a bunch of medicine.
Change is very hard. I feel like I am losing something. I can no longer have that donut or Big Mac I want. I have to exercise and take a butt load of pills, both which I hate. I'm supposed to practice stress reduction which I still think is hooey and roll my eyes at. My Apple watch tells me to breathe and I tell it to shut up. Ha. Yes, change is hard and I'm failing at it.
I am eating much better. That stuck for the most part. My taste buds changed like they said they would.
I'm not exercising. I feel guilty, but not enough to actually change.
I am generally an uptight person. But I don't really worry much because of my relationship with God. I get stressed; I pray.
I still hate the pill box, but I take what they tell me I have to.
Just like I don't look like a person who would have a heart attack, my actions and appearance don't tell the whole story. There is this turmoil going on inside of me. For a year now.
Physically I look great. Mentally and spiritually I'm not doing so well.
Shortly after my heart attack I became angry. Basically I thought 'This is so unfair!' I'd look at other people who were older than me, overweight, and ate anything they want and never exercised and think, 'Why me and not them?' Isn't that horrible?! Very un-Christian-like to think that. And then I would feel guilty and ask God to forgive me. I never before looked at people like that. Honestly. I just never looked at people as healthy or not healthy or thought about their looks much. I just looked at the person and was much more interested in our conversation. And now I was going around judging people for being overweight and eating crap food. Horrible of me. I felt so guilty, but I couldn't seem to stop.
The flip side of that is I thought everyone was judging me. I thought I deserved the heart attack. I brought it on myself with my life choices. I thought everyone was thinking that about me. I ran into a woman from church at War-Mart when I had candy and chips in my cart. I immediately told her not to judge me that the candy and chips were for my husband. I felt the need to explain myself to her! Really? I'd be somewhere and eat a piece of cake and think people were thinking 'She shouldn't eat that.' Honestly I was torturing myself with what I thought others were thinking of me. You are probably thinking who cares what others think? Well, apparently I do. And I thought everyone was thinking it's her own dang fault she had a heart attack and look at her now continuing in her unhealthy lifestyle.
Apparently when you have a health issue everyone wants to give you advice. I was so excited about what I was learning in cardio rehab. I had never paid attention to what I ate and I didn't even know how to read a food label. I was learning so much! Cardio rehab is run by experts in their field. I would share what I learned after class on Facebook and I found out many people think they are an expert - especially when it comes to food - and would contradict what I was learning. One Christian friend got all worked up when I posted we were told coconut oil is terrible for our hearts and to never ever use it. She said the American Heart Association is paid off by cooking oil companies to say that. Seriously? Do you know how absurd that is? Here were experts whose only job was to give us the most reliable information to keep us heart healthy. The licensed nutritionist (who had her masters and a bunch of designations after her name) gave me many articles about the dangers of coconut oil and I shared them with this friend. My friend wouldn't believe them. Did I drop it? No, I blasted her. I was so mean. I later apologized, but I still acted very un-Christian-like.
So while I physically look the same as I did pre-heart attack, internally I'm not.
Anger - it is a sin.
Ungratefulness - it is a sin.
Being judgmental - it is a sin.
Unkindness - it is a sin.
I can't help the emotions I was having. They are just feelings. But how you act on those emotions can honor God or can be sinful.
I know what changes I need to make. I just seem incapable of doing them. It feels like being a failure 24/7. And that is not a good way to feel.
Things that never entered my mind before have become the battlefield of my mind.
I hate it. I'm disgusted with myself.
Should this sin in my life disqualify me from doing this site, leading a women's Bible study, teaching Bible classes? Should I shut it all down until I get my act together? Until I get in a better place?
People who know me, know I am not perfect. Far from it. Do they think I am a hypocrite though? Oh Lord, please no!
While being a very screwed up person, I love the Lord. I am trying to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I have always tried to be genuine with others. I've never claimed to be Super Christian. I'm certainly not! If you perceive me as that, it really is your flawed perception of what a Christian is. We are sinners who are forgiven. Get that? Sinners. Being a Christian doesn't mean we aren't going to struggle with sin.
Since the heart attack, I view time very differently. I don't know if I have the time to pass on what I've learned and there is so much I want to write about! And that is all I'm trying to do with Passion to Know More. As God puts things on my heart and I learn more about the Bible, I want to share it with you. I get pretty excited when I learn something new. I want to pass that excitement on.
Why? Because I'm hoping you will learn something and become interested in reading and studying the Bible. I'm hoping something I put down will touch you some way.
That doesn't make me a better Christian than you. I'm not. Please don't think I think that about myself. I don't. If anything, I am more critical of myself than anyone else could be. I'm working on that too. Sigh.
We are all equal at the foot of the cross. Truly.
Extend grace to us struggling people. Give us a little slack. Kindness. Encouragement.
I guess this ended up being my confession of my turmoil this year and a plea to you to be understanding. I didn't know it would go that route. Ha.