I knew we were in for a tough workout when the instructor said, “Don’t listen to your brain. It will tell you to stop when you feel tired. Listen o your body and don’t stop until it can’t do any more.”
My first thought was of the times I’ve reprimanded for something with the sentence, “Why can’t you just use your brain.” I guess this wasn’t one of those times!
As the class progressed fatigue set in and I realized I had automatically slowed down. The earlier words of the instructor echoed in my mind and I paid more attention to what my body was capable of. With a little conscious effort, I was able to intensify my workout.
What a revelation! I was capable of doing a lot more than I thought I could.
How could this apply to other areas of my life?
I brought to mind times I was hurt by the words or actions of someone I trusted. My brain said to keep my distance so I wouldn’t experience the pain again. My heart told me to offer forgiveness and restore the relationship.
Another example was when I tried something new and didn’t achieve the success others had. My brain told me I couldn’t do it and would just fail again.
The fear of embarrassment held me back until I decided to listen to the positive voice inside. The voice of faith told me the more I worked at this, the better I would get. It was right and again I achieved more than I thought possible.
I have learned life works best when I not only listen to my brain but also pay attention to what my body and my heart are telling me.
Five minutes into the exercise class our instructor said, “We need to warm up your hearts.”
I turned to my friend and told her I didn’t think I was cold-hearted to start with.
We laughed but I knew there have been circumstances in my life when my heart definitely needed warming.
It wasn’t cold to everyone, just those who had hurt me by what they had said or done – or maybe it was something not said or done.
I hung onto bitterness and anger like it was a prize. I knew I had every right to be upset and was exercising that right to the fullest.
It didn’t matter if the offending party was even aware of the issue. I had been wronged and a sincere apology had not been offered. Forgiveness was out of the question.
I thought forgiveness meant I was saying the offence was acceptable. It took me many years to understand the one suffering from my unforgiveness was me. I heard someone say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Only then did I see how cold and hard my heart had become.
Since then I have been learning to keep short accounts. Some transgressions require a continuous effort to forgive. It is not a one-time thing but something to be repeated over and over until I can look at the situation and not have any negative emotion.
Forgiving others allows me to let go of the negative thoughts I’ve been holding onto. This is what sets me free from the past so I can fully embrace the life before me. Only then will my cold heart become warm and loving again.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” the doctor said. “We just need your heart rate to slow down a little more before we do the next test, so we’re going to put you on oxygen for a few minutes. We find it effective in restoring the heart rhythm.”
I’d never had oxygen before and was curious to know what it would be like. Since I felt fine, there was no concern on my part. The gentle flow into my nostrils didn’t cause any discomfort. It didn’t even disrupt my conversation with the nurse!
After a few minutes I was told my heart beat was back to normal and I could move on to the imaging area. I felt no physical difference but the monitor showed an improvement.
I related this experience to the Holy Spirit breathing into my life. Jesus said he would send us a helper, the Holy Spirit. There is no need for regulators and monitors. On the surface things appear the same. When I call out to him, he calms my heart and mind. This is not only during anxious times. Every day I need the guidance and peace that comes when I breathe deeply of him.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. (John 14:16-17 GWT)
What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV)
“I feel fine,” I said to my doctor, “just thought the changes to my family medical history should be brought to you attention.”
When the heart disease of past generations started affecting my siblings I decided it was time for me to be proactive.
No problems were found in the initial tests but as a precaution, I was referred for a cardiac risk assessment, which included a stress test.
This made me think of the stress I’ve had in my life. Most of it was self-imposed. When I focus on negative things I cause myself stress. This can be hard on me both physically and mentally.
Thinking of only positive things can be quite a challenge. I used to worry about many things that were out of my control. When I started bringing these troubling thoughts to God, my life became more peaceful. Praying about my worries reduced my stress. I will freely admit that I haven’t perfected this. The good news is, the more I do it, the easier it becomes.
I have learned the benefits of consciously searching for the blessings God has surrounded me with. My attitude of gratitude is what will keep my heart and mind healthy.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
“Lead with your heart,” the fitness instructor called out. Her words were meant to encourage us to stand up straight, with our shoulders back. This would make our exercise more effective.
I followed her instructions but found my mind immediately went in another direction. For me this was a reminder to trust the emotional, caring part of my personality. There are times I need to let it overrule the practical, needing to have all the facts before making a decision, part of me.
This can be a challenge when the feelings and practicality engage in a tug-of-war. The winner is not always the one it should be.
If I’m being led by Jesus, it’s easier to step out in faith and let him take care of the details. After all, he is the one that fed more than 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. His disciples wanted to send the people away to find food. Jesus had a better way. He took the small offering, blessed it and God multiplied it to supply the need.
He still performs miracles today.
When I have concerns about how something can be accomplished, I need to turn it over to Jesus and watch as he performs miracles with my little offering. All I need to do is trust him enough to lead with my heart.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children! (Matthew 14:18-21 NLT)
It was a floor I swept regularly. On this particular day I decided to move a small piece of furniture to get to an often neglected area. What I found there surprised me.
A grasshopper must have come in when the door was open. It became trapped and now I was sweeping up its remains.
A shudder ran through me as I related this incident to my life.
When I leave the door open for undesirable things to enter my life, they often come in unnoticed. These little things can hide in the corners of my heart and slowly accumulate. I may think they are not impacting me but sooner or later they become evident. My thoughts and attitude start to reflect the garbage that has been piling up inside of me.
Things may not look that bad on the surface but until I remove any barriers and do a clean sweep, there will still be garbage lurking there. These barriers are of my own making.
What I need to do is confess and bring into the open what I think I’ve been hiding. Jesus sees it all along and is just waiting for me to bring it to him. Once I do, he will do a complete cleanse of my heart. Then I no longer need worry about what may be discovered in those hidden corners.
Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Proverbs 20:9 NIV)
God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9 GWT)