Open Heart Surgery

heartI was talking to a friend who revealed to me that someone in her family has to undergo an open heart procedure. As I sat in the living room listening to her explain to me the situation, I couldn’t help hearing the fear in her voice. My only response was, “How are you?” to which she responded “sacred.”

As the conversation drifted from my mind due to the cares of the day, I eventually remembered the fear I heard in her voice as she told me the story. Her fear mirrors mine as I see myself on God’s operating table once again.

The most common type of open heart surgery is coronary artery bypass. During the procedure, a healthy artery or vein is grafted (attached) to the person’s blocked artery. As a result, the attached artery will bypass the blocked one to bring fresh blood to the heart.

This is the process of how God purges our hearts of toxins. While in God’s operating room, he puts us on the table and opens our chest cavity. Afterwards, he attaches his word and spirit to our blockages to allow freedom to flow. Unfortunately, though, we’ve become so acquainted with our blockages that even if the surgery is for the best, it produces fear.

My friend’s emotions mirror my own as God operates on me. While I know that over time I’ve hidden things in the arteries of my heart that have caused love to stop flowing, I don’t remember what openness feels like anymore. What if I am unblocked and I don’t manage the recovery well? What if the stress of the procedure causes me to faint? What if I become better?? More willing to love? To forgive?

Yes I want to be better and experience total freedom but at what cost? Will my freedom require me to lose friends? Acquaintances? My present? Will it further separate me from my peers? Will it demand that I have a spirit of excellence?

Matthew 5:8 says that only the purpose in heart will see God, and perhaps I’ve blinded myself by the fear of my past that I’ve skewed my perception of wholeness. It’s interesting the ways in which we make allowance for our dysfunction. The way that we make accommodations for behaviors for so long that we struggle to get out of our own cages. How long are we willing to remain there?

The grafting of the Holy Spirit will cost you something. You will have to recover, but not alone. I’m learning as I undergo my spiritual surgical procedure that God puts us on the operating table for a reason. He opens our hearts to allow us to live and live freely. He will remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), but we have to be willing to experience the discomfort of healing.

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Guarding Your Heart

Guard Your HeartI didn’t know the importance of guarding my heart until something unexpected took root there. It happened quickly. It only took about 5 minutes for anger and I to become  bed mates, and I didn’t realize it until minutes later. And, once there, it was no easy way to uproot it until I admitted that I had been wounded.

Recently, I was put in a situation that was a bit uncomfortable. I was at an event and there were some women there that made it their point to be caddy towards me. As a native of Chicago and a teacher, my perspective on things (the way I read situations) are quite different from most. In fact, the ways in which I process things are quite complex and very internal. While in the past this has been a challenging thing for me to navigate, I believe that my introspection practices helped me to see the offense that buried itself in my heart and gave birth to anger.

The interesting thing is that I haven’t experienced anger in a very long time and it shocked me when it surfaced. I am not saying that I didn’t feel an array of its close and distant cousins, I am saying that I hadn’t seen anger itself in a while. That night, following the event, I dreamed of fighting. This was alarming to me because my spirit is generally settled and my dreams are often positively revelatory, but this time they weren’t. When I awoke I was  a bit bothered by the internal condition of my heart.

That day my heart was open and my guard was down, so the enemy had an opportunity to penetrate my life. He used others to plant seeds of anger down into my heart to hinder me from moving as quickly as I should towards the promise of God. Anger and its relatives can be debilitating. They can be staggering. They can be toxic if unchecked.

In essence, in a moment I forgot to guard my heart and was left wounded. I think it was more than wounding in this case because I  left with emotional souvenirs to carry on my journey back to my car, to my bed, to my dreams. I don’t think we realize how quickly things have the ability to take root if we aren’t careful. In everything we should guard our hearts and minds.

But, if we are sometimes negligent, I want to encourage everyone to quickly tend to the inner wound.