Saturday, 18 June 2016

What is your heart telling you?

I am coming out of a season of refinement, the exhaustion has lifted and I am refreshed, renewed and ready to move forward. It is amazing how much the cares and struggles of every day life can weigh down our heart and more amazing still how God can take those very cares and restore our wounded hearts to wholeness.

Since my last post, I have experienced too many episodes of tachycardia and visits to the emergency to count. Last Fall, I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition which although not life threatening can be pervasive and affected my heart on all levels, body, soul and spirit. This particular arrythmia manifested itself without rythmn or reason. Randomly, my heart would begin to beat at 200 beats per minute instead of the normal 60 to 100 bpm. This would go on for hours causing dizziness, shortness of breath, lack of clarity and extreme fatigue. Despite the cardiologists assuring me that there was nothing I could do or not do to prevent an episode, I became fearful about taking on any type of exercise or activities that would limit by ability to work full-time and serve at church. My body was broken and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

As a result, my soul (emotional heart) was also impacted. I am challenged with a mood disorder that causes me to be a beast half the time and beauty the other half. Premenstrual Disphoric Disfunction (PMDD) is a mood disorder which is greatly influenced by your menstrual cycle so two weeks out of EACH month I can be a real beast - as with many mood disorders it can be managed with therapy, medication, proper nutrition, sleep AND exercise. However, because I was barely exercising and connecting with others my emotional health went awry. I was irritable, angry, unsatisfied, critical and judgmental. Regrettably the target of my fiery arrows were those nearest and dearest to me, those I loved and cherished most, particularly my husband. Thankfully, because I am insightful and can connect the dots easily most of these emotional exchanges occured in my thoughts minimizing the casualties however I was not left unharmed as my emotional heart was weighed down by these cares and attitudes. My soul was leading my life and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

This led to an attack on my spirit. I began to doubt that I would be able to get out of the vicious cycle of critical thoughts, shame, guilt and focused on sin management instead of Holy Spirit empowerment. I took my eyes off Jesus and fed my heart with the lies of the enemy that had me believing - we got married too soon, I married the wrong person, he should make me feel loved, he needs to change or at least help out more. These lies weaved a tangled ball of yarn in my heart and in my mind - I could only see the wrong in him, I became blind to his goodness and was wrapped in shame and guilt for thinking those critical thoughts and speaking them out loud partly because we had only been married 18 months and mostly because  I was tearing him down. Rather than build up my partner (we are on the same team), the very person who loved me most, who overlooked my moods, quirkiness and frustrations and saw me only through the eyes of grace - who loved me and built me up no matter what I did or how I acted, I was emasculating (refusing to need and trust him, hung up on controlling, correcting and criticizing) and I hated myself for it. My spirit was crushed and I couldn't walk in my purpose.

My frustration grew; all I desired was to accept him unconditionally as he acccepted me., to walk in my purpose to LOVE abundantly and exude grace to others particularly my husband. After all,  if I couldn't do so at home how would I do so in the world. It's not like I hadn't tried before - I often repented for my critical and judgmental thoughts and words yet they returned...I broke the stronghold during my journey in the 12 step recovery program (Celebrate Recovery), surrendered it to God in prayer, confessed it to my husband and practically bound my mouth shut with tape to keep from speaking those thoughts! Although this later is a bit of an exageration, it accurately reflects the challenge I was dealing with on a daily basis. I couldn't walk in my purpose.

Finally, I was presented with an opportunity to retreat (in every sense of the word) and draw closer to God - this was quite welcomed because, I had become aware that my anxiety was on the increase and things were spinning in my life. I was easily overloaded and no longer had control of even the simple things. The manifestation of anxiety in my life is usually an indication that I am trying to serve everyone, it is exhausting and fear based instead of faith based - I knew I was going off the rails and desperately needed some God time to get be back on track and resume walking in my purpose.

May you be encouraged in knowing that life is a journey not a destination! It is about the progress we make towards walking out our purpose so continue to press in and persevere. Be patient and kind with yourself allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you. Remember, the goal is not perfection of our heart but connection to the perfect One! My personal journey to this discovery and freedom from critical and judgmental words  unfolded differently then I may of expected but brought so many blessings and beautiful people along the way...

This past spring, as I retreated at Cedar Ridge Camp with 160 other women equally thirsting to draw closer to God, I had an opportunity to stop and hear what God was already speaking to my heart and chose to take action. I nailed my critical and judgmental behavior to the cross and prayed "Lord, how can I be life giving in my pursuit to awaken my husband's masculinity? Show me encouraging ways to help him rise up! Amen." Things improved for a few weeks then the frustration began again. This past week, every devotional brought a similar message about loving my husband and how. I also attended a mastermind group where I intentionally looked at my relationships and recognized that change would only be possible if I chose to change my perspective or shift my mindset - that very night, I prayed to God for a renewal of my heart and asked Him to empower me with love and grace towards my husband and I committed to make his lunch, write him a note of appreciation and speak words that breathe life (Fortunately for me, I could do this mostly without questions because his 50th birthday was approaching, my recovery from heart surgery was going well and my moods were improving - even in my mistakes God was being faithful, and I may not have to explain my changed behavior, love that).

The next evening, as I was sharing my frustrations with my small group I became aware that I was allowing Satan to deceive me in my marriage, he was trying to interfere and mess with what I had already submitted to God; thankfully God doesn't mind hot messes and I can rest knowing that although I am no match for the enemy, the enemy is no match for God. James 4:7-10 states: " humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor." As you can tell by my story so far, although I submitted to God and prayed, my heart didn't change overnight - I have come to recognize that in the case of my growth with Jesus - I need to live it learn it! It has been 48 hours since I chose to change my perspective towards my husband and shift my mindset and I am amazed to say that my words have been much more uplifting and even my thoughts have been less critical and judgmental. The words that sealed my heart and healed my wounds were words that I spoke at my own wedding less than 2 years ago: "Love is a choice"! Please consider that and the choices you can make as you meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Love is a choice, one that you can choose to walk in on purpose time and time again, day after day. Delighted to be walking in God's purpose for my life yet again!

Freedom can be fully experienced through the wholeness of your body, soul and spirit. Because, when your body is broken, you cannot hear God. When your soul is leading, you cannot hear God. When your spirit is crushed, you cannot hear God.  The road to restoration and freedom requires obedience and faith in God. I encourage you to get right with God - Trust Him with your whole heart! Body! Soul! Spirit! Ask Him what your purpose is, accept his response and begin to walk in it today. Living life on purpose is a miracle and a gift straight from heaven! Amen.