Heart disease is a huge problem in America. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 deaths are due to heart disease in the US. That is a lot of people dying from a relatively preventative disease. The majority of heart disease is caused by stress, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. I also think people never have their heart health checked until they’re extremely ill and need to be put on medication or have extensive surgery. Now, I’m not a physical heart health specialist (I know a lot more about infectious diseases), but I do know a thing or two about the emotional heart. The Bible writes in Proverbs 4:23 (NLT): “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.
I quote Proverbs 4:23 all the time, and it’s a reminder for me to check my heart, and continuously making sure I’m guarding it from “disease” (aka negativity). The status of our hearts determines how we interact and treat people. For example, if we carry a lot of bitterness from our past, we can automatically look at the bad in people before we ever see the good. If we carry past hurts from abandonment in our hearts, we may assume everyone is going to leave us, so we either sabotage relationships or keep people at an arm’s length away. On the other side of the coin, a heart full of joy and love tends to poor out joy and love to others in most circumstances (joyous people do have bad days, but it never steals our inner joy). So as I’m preparing to leave for Mozambique, I’m going through an extensive heart check and cleaning out a lot of emotional cobwebs. I want to enter this new season of life a healthy, joyful, loving person.
I’m currently having some major heart surgery in the forgiveness department. I didn’t realize that I was holding unforgiveness over certain people in my past. Biblical forgiveness is technically canceling out someone’s emotional debt to me. In better terms, this means when someone hurts me, I’m holding on to this “hurt debt” that you owe me, and I’m not letting go of this debt until you pay for it (usually through an apology, or me returning the hurt). I realized that there were people in my life I thought I had fully forgiven, but it turned out I only forgave 20% of the hurt that they caused me instead of 100%. You can usually tell if you fully forgive someone by the way you emotionally react to when you see them (on Facebook or in person), when they come up in conversation, or even when you think about them. Does the mere mention of their name make you automatically think of the offense that they caused? Or do you think about them with a clear conscious? When I realized this, it blew my mind. I know I’m not giving the topic enough credit, so to know more I highly advise listening to my friend Brandon’s message on forgiveness (it’s long but good). I could write a whole post on forgiveness, but Brandon says it a lot better!
With this being said, how’s your heart doing? Do you have parts of anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, or forgiveness that you need to work on? Leave a comment below. The best part about dealing with it now, is the freedom that comes from a healthy heart. Now that I’m forgiving people 100%, I have more space to love people (this is all I want to do… I know, it sounds a little hippyish, but it’s me).