Spiritual Heart Disease

Ever since my husband's open-heart surgery last year, I've been hyper vigilant about my heart health. Maybe a little too hyper. I've relaxed a bit now, but I was taking my blood pressure several times a day. (It's always low.) I pop fish-oil capsules and baby aspirin daily. I haven't eaten pizza in months, and I'm pretty much caffeine free.Despite my newfound vigilance, I started experiencing heart palpitations shortly after my husband's operation. So I went to my family physician and told him I thought I had "contagious heart disease." He told me there's no such thing, but he took an EKG anyway. When the test results came back normal, he said the palpitations could be from the stress of my husband's ordeal, and told me I shouldn't worry so much. When the palpitations didn't stop, I went back to the doctor and told him, "Something's not right." He hooked me up to a heart monitor, which detected an arrhythmia. Next week I go for a cardiac stress test, and then begin taking a beta blocker to correct my heartbeat.I knew something was wrong, and I knew I had to be vigilant. The human heart is incredibly strong, yet incredibly vulnerable. Just one tiny blood clot, a recent television commercial reports, can cause massive heart damage.

Likewise, the Bible says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is a wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Of course, the proverb isn't talking about my cardiovascular muscle, but rather my emotional center. That, too, needs vigilant care.I've learned this truth the hard way—especially regarding my heart's wayward affections.

I don't know why I'm always surprised whenever I'm attracted to someone other than my husband. We've been married almost 33 years, yet I can't count the number of my crushes on other men. And I love my husband dearly!One particularly devastating crush ensnared me years ago. Even though the man didn't know my feelings for him, I knew—and God knew. My crush began interfering with my relationship to my husband, my children, and, most of all, God. Eventually this guy occupied the majority of my thoughts and even my dreams. I felt horribly guilty. Something was terribly wrong with my heart, and I didn't know how to fix it. To be honest, I really didn't want it fixed; I enjoyed my "heart disease."Thankfully, I never acted on my feelings. But I often wonder what I would have done if the man had known my feelings and reciprocated.Ultimately, I had to decide: Would I continue my fantasy life, which displeased God and rendered me useless in his kingdom? Or would I embrace the Lord's forgiveness and freedom?

I knew I teetered on the brink of either destruction or life. With God's help, I chose life.After I made the necessary adjustments to remove myself from this trap, I still suffered withdrawal and grief. But I got my life back. In the process, I learned the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9).More than 20 years after that crush, I still remember the temptation and its potential devastation. That's why I'm vigilant in matters of the heart. When a male coworker or acquaintance causes palpitations, I ask God to show me something about the guy that's a turn off. God's faithful; he always answers that prayer.So besides exercising, eating healthfully, and getting routine checkups, I also guard my heart with prayer—because I know it's the difference between life and death.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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