Heart Troubles

People take human heart conditions seriously to avoid further complications in life, as they should. Emergency crews rush to a scene to assist. It’s really amazing to see them in action. Many endanger their own wellbeing in the process and have earned a place of respect in our hearts, spiritually speaking. But how do we treat matters of this spiritual heart? Are they treated with urgency or are they disregarded due to their seeming insignificance?

I believe what goes on in our spiritual hearts has a great effect on what we see in our lives. It doesn’t take long to notice someone with a troubled heart. A key indicator of what is in someone’s heart is revealed in their language. When you listen to them, what is coming out of their mouth? Not their vocabulary but the content of what is said. Are they positive words or negative? Bitter or sweet?

Many times we do not even realize what is in our own heart. Another helpful indicator can be found when reading the Bible, which serves as a helpful guide to show you what is inside your heart. The words inside will show things about you, but you must look for them. It’s a huge book after all! For instance, our ability to love others is a reflection of our own heart. If you have a great deal of hatred, we will know it because of the lack of love demonstrated toward others.

Spiritual heart problems may not affect you like a heart attack will, but they are still vitally important. Resolving them can lead to a more joyful life and make your relationships even more special. So if you need help in this area, call on Jesus! Whatever the condition of your spiritual heart is – broken, beaten, crushed…. He will give you a new one, He did for me and I wholeheartedly believe will do the same for you.

Memories, over stuff

An experience hit me hard when I helped my family downsize and move into a smaller home. A collection of belongings from three generations of family members had to be dealt with. There were all kinds of items, ones of value to just plain junk.

The process was a slow, tedious one that consisted of trials and warfare. Each person had their own distinct preferences when it came to things they kept. I did the math and calculated a 0.01% return on investment for 30 year supply of empty butter dishes, so I convinced them to let go.

It took four months but we finally managed to get rid of everything that we needed to. After the amount of time spent on this, the auctioneers fees and commission that we “saved” was questionable in the end. About a year later, another family member did use an auctioneer to sell their stuff. I was somewhat intrigued by the process and would definitely consider it seriously if I were to do something like this again.

But what hit me hardest was thinking about how much money was spent. Every item sold, donated, or thrown away all had a price tag in the beginning. Every dollar spent was time exchanged by working to earn that dollar. We work tirelessly to buy things which rarely keep their value. They satisfy us for only a short time before we are off to buy the next thing. Matthew 6 warns us about storing up treasures. Dust, bugs, and pesky vermin don’t care how precious your belongings are. They leave their filthy mess all over the place. Let me tell you, nothing adds value to your stuff like mice poop!

To this day it is still an internal struggle; what to keep and what to get rid of. Renting storage space to hold more stuff, all the while wondering what the point of all this stuff really is. But interestingly enough, I never go back and question all the experiences I’ve had. The places I went, the photographs taken, the laughs shared – all tremendous blessings that I’ve found immense value in. I do enjoy buying nice things, but I’ve come to appreciate the importance of creating memories far more. Memories last a lifetime while most things we buy quickly fade away.

A Moment’s Notice

Life can change in a moment. Some kinds of moments can be difficult to get through. They take your breath away and leave you speechless. It’s similar to the experience when that bully unexpectedly punched you hard in the stomach. Gasping for breath, you tried to regain your composure. Most of the onlookers turned away, as if they had not seen what happened. After all, what could they say that would make it better? Meanwhile, you were left with unanswered questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve that?

Sometimes the event is short lived and other times it can bring changes that last a lifetime. The number of struggles we face are too numerous to list. But regardless of the situation, things eventually to return to normal. “Normal” being loosely defined, that is. The shock of it all wears off and something else happens. We start looking for who to blame. People make fantastic targets for our problems, which is why we love to blame them so much.

But it can get so bad that we go even further and blame God. We may not come out and say it, for fear of repercussions. So, we instead internalize our struggle and push God away. Why did you do this to me, God? Or, why did you allow this to happen to me?

It is easy to rationalize things we do not understand. In our search for answers, we come up with all kinds of things trying to make sense of it all. Some things we bring on ourselves. Other things are brought on us by the actions of others.

Regardless of why this moment is here, a temptation will arise to let go of what you know to be true. You have been through too much to forget the times you have made it through other events of life. These events seemed manufactured with precision, intent to steal away your hope and magnify your fear.

When a moment like this comes, stay true to your beliefs! Know that this too shall pass. Remember the prior battles you have won. An example of this is King David from the Bible. In his younger years, he was a shepherd who watched over sheep. In times of danger, he had to fight. He once fought a lion and won. In another battle, a bear. Later on he faced a huge giant, one that taunted his people. While others stood by and did nothing, he decided to face the giant in his life.

Giants will always exist in our lives, and take on many forms. They will taunt us and try to get us to give in, to give up. But if a giant exists in this moment of your life, it isn’t there to crush you, it is there for your to conquer. Face what you fear and crush it instead!

Why Risk It?

Why build anything meaningful if there is a chance it will be lost? If you have lived long at all, you have asked why countless times. Life hurts so much when something is taken away from us. It can be a toy, a pet, family member, friend, or any number of things.

It gets to the point where we are afraid to want again. Our fear overpowers our desire to have. When this happens, all hope seems gone. When our hopes and dreams get dashed on life’s rocky areas, it leaves us in dangerously low periods. Thoughts warn at the slightest hint of hope. “Don’t get your hopes up. Remember what happened last time.”

If we remain stuck on these thoughts, life will live out as a tragedy. Living with no expectations seems like the easy way out. Less pain, less sorrow; it really sounds like a great deal. But it is a fool’s hand to play. Life has a way of swinging like a pendulum. If you do nothing, you will feel nothing and experience nothing.

However, when you decide to take a risk and hope, the pendulum starts swinging again. You will feel happiness and sadness. Understand that the more you swing in one direction, you open yourself up to swinging in the opposite direction when the pendulum returns. Basically, the greater the happiness you experience, the greater the pain you may feel if you lose it.

Again, why risk it? The shortest answer is because it is worth it. When you open yourself to experience all life has to offer, you will gain precious memories that will remain long after what created the memories is gone. As hard as memories are to look back on, they help us remember the love that we shared, a priceless gift to cherish for a lifetime. After tragedies occur in your life, take some time to heal. God can give you the strength, comfort, and healing you need in these times. Then embrace hope once more and live a full life!

Something Meaningful

Anything meaningful we get takes great effort and considerable time. All that effort put into it is part of what makes it so special to us. Before you set out for a major purchase, think hard about the cost. The more meaningful it is, the higher the cost. Decide whether you want to pay the price.

Too often we rush into things without considering what it will cost us. Sure, we take into consideration whether we can financially afford something, such as a house or car. But remember, costs are not just monetary. We earn our money through work, in which we are trade our lives for money. In essence, we are giving our life away each time we spend any amount of money. Every payment is not just a dollar sign, it is hours, even days from our lives.

The most precious commodity we have is time. It is the one thing we can never get back or buy more of. It is given to each of us in equal measure. The gap between each of us is in what we decide to do with that time.

There are many intangible but meaningful things that also create value in our lives. Work consumes a large portion due to the amount of time involved every day. Therefore considerable time should be spent examining your work life. But too much work and no play is a life out of balance. We need hobbies that give us play time away from work.

But above and beyond those, think long and hard about your relationships with family, friends, or possibly that special someone. These can be more meaningful than all the other things combined; more so than beautiful houses, nice cars, and all sorts of fanciful things. Relationships cost us in a unique way because they involve aspects of our being. Our thoughts, feelings, and so much more can all be invested to make something worthwhile. They are similar to other areas we build, but relationships have a distinct trait. They are fragile. You can work tirelessly to build one, investing a great deal of time and energy, only to watch it disappear overnight.

There are many reasons why relationships fall apart, but that is not the focus here. The important thing to remember is how special they are and be diligent to maintain them. People will come and go throughout your life. But when you have good people in your life, value them, respect them, and love them. If you do, you will truly create something meaningful.

Storms of Life

Life can hurt and at times, seem unbearable. When we are physically wounded, our miraculous bodies go into healing mode. Cuts begin to heal. Bruises begin to dissipate. Most of our bodies are programmed to fight infections also. Our minds know exactly what to do without requiring thought on our part. Even a small child can recover from an injury without knowing how to explain it. Emergency services, nurses, and physicians all rush to care for injuries to the body. But what about our minds, our souls? These injuries are not tangible but can still be devastating.

Contrary to our bodies, our minds work in a different way. When we are attacked mentally or emotionally, our mind tries to defend itself, but at times does so poorly. We lash out at others because we ourselves are hurt. The more they hurt us, the more we try to hurt them. The desire to get even can be overwhelming. But how does that mindset resolve anything? It only deepens the wounds on both sides.

If you find yourself in a situation in which someone has wronged or hurt you, try to exercise patience, gentleness, and mercy. Extend grace to them as if the roles were reversed and it was you that acted in an inappropriate manner. We all have our wounds. Some will heal completely, never showing they existed. Others will heal but leave scars.

Never look on your scars as something ugly to be despised. Instead, see them for what they truly are. Scars are proof of God’s love. You are a survivor. Look past your pain, struggles, and ultimately your own life, and watch God work through the lives of others. When others see your healed scars in the darkest moments of their lives, you will become a beacon of light and hope for them, living proof that they too can survive the storms of life.

Get it Together

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Ever stop to think how many thoughts we process in a given day? Our minds sift through so much data, every second, from all our senses. With our brains working so hard to process all that information, it is easy to see how a verbal attack in the middle of all this could send us into a state of panic. If another person makes us feel pain, our emotions kick in and set us off. The tendency to overreact just makes matters worse and causes more damage than had we just remained calm.

Managing our mind seems like a daunting task. To many, it is overwhelming for good reason, meaning they never tried to take control of it. Imagine letting a child be raised in a way that they were never told “no”. The child would grow up doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, etc. One day when they become an adult, they may not magically conform to the ways of society but instead experience struggle because they had never learned self-discipline.

The same can be said of your mind. Thoughts come at an alarming rate. Do you let the thoughts run around in your mind like a blown up bag of balloons that were suddenly let go all at once? Or do you train your mind how to manage your thoughts? Training is hard work but it pays off, especially when the training is put to the test. A disorganized mind is unreliable and yields undesirable results.

Create habits that will train your mind to reject certain thoughts and build upon others. With more practice, it gets easier to manage your thoughts. Do this long enough and it will change the way you live.