On New Years Eve I had a stress test done on my heart.  I’m always fascinated by physiological tests and blood work revelations (if only I didn’t have a weak stomach I MIGHT be in the medical profession).  Last year I met with an audiologist for a hearing test and found it equally fascinating.  The stress test was no different.

If you’ve never had a stress test or don’t know anything about it here are the events of my experience:  They put patches all over my chest, ran an EKG, checked my blood pressure and did sonograms of my heart at resting.  Then they put me on a treadmill for what I was told would be 6 to 9 minutes (until I could no longer do the level of exercise they needed me to) and ran the EKG simultaneously and checked my blood pressure at various points.  I was coming up on 9 minutes and wanted to go further because I saw my heart rate was only at 174.  I had seen it get up to 183 before so I wanted to push it to see how that translated to them.  However, my fearless leader said that they really only needed it above 162 so my calves said, “WE ARE DONE, JAMIE! LET US GET OFF OF HERE!”  So, at 9 minutes I hopped off of the treadmill and walked quickly to the table so the gent could do the sonograms of my overworked heart.  I closed my eyes while the sweat was dripping down my forehead (I was preempting burning off calories of this amazing cheese ball I would eat later…  I WISH it worked that way) as he took the images.  The girl continued to take my blood pressure and then we were done.

Looking Forward Looking Back

The test turned out fine (coming from a long line of a family with heart problems that was reassuring) but what I found most interesting was my blood pressure.  What was interesting was that AFTER working the heart through exercise my blood pressure was better than when I walked in the door with a resting blood pressure.  The exercise science major/blood pressure checker/EKG tracker told me that after you exercise, everything flows so much easier so your blood pressure is lower/better.  Yet another reminder to exercise the heart through some kind of activity.

Today it has me thinking about exercising our hearts in other ways.

Are we exercising our heart by holding in that apology?  Are we exercising our heart by walking past that person on the corner holding up a sign?  Are we exercising our heart by ignoring the numerous requests from well deserving services that need help?  Are we exercising our heart by driving past that person on the side of the road?  Are we exercising our heart by over-performing our children and expecting some unattainable level of perfection?  Are we exercising our heart by ignoring our elderly?

I know I have failed.  Numerous times.  There are areas where I excel and areas where I fall short.  Rather than beat myself up for the places I fall short or worry that I should be doing it better, I’m just going to take those fleeting moments where I want to beat myself up and just make a change.

… we don’t attain anything eternal by choosing to live this way.  Yet, how much easier would our lives be if we did!?  By letting the love flow we will enjoy the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and hopefully shake away the fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

I usually take the end of the year or my birthday to kind of take a reflection back and a look forward.  I may not be able to deliver a solid on this, but I will state a few things:

  1. You can’t depend on others to do what you need to do yourself.  In 2014 and the beginning of 2015 I was mess.  The grief was palpable and I was a needy friend, I’ll be the first to admit.  No one complained or ever made me feel alone, but in reflection I was way too emotionally dependent on my sisters to carry me through.  They accepted the challenge and gave me what I hope I have given back to others, but 2015 was a time for me to finally put on some big girl pants.
  2. God sometimes calls you to do odd things.  It is amazing the changes in my life and in lives around me all from me following directions.  God knows I don’t make big decisions without some neon directional signs.  He gave them, I followed, and my life and others’ are better because of it.  Just like God slimmed down Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 300 men to defeat the Midianite army of 135,000 men (Judges chapter 7) , God will do some questionable things in your life for the greater good.
  3. Answer the call from people who need you.  Just like my girlfriends who outdid themselves in 2014/15 for me, there have been people who needed that kind of love from me.  They may be close friends, they may be old acquaintances… it doesn’t matter.  In order to let the love flow you have to answer those calls and sometimes all you can do is just be there.  There are no words.  Just a shoulder to accept the tears.  Literally.  Just do it.
  4. Find the identity he gave you and just do it.  Maybe it’s because I am mid-life but I am realizing that time is precious.  Life is too short to settle on not living a life of fulfillment…  and I don’t mean being filled with material things of this earth, I’m talking about being filled with things of God.  God has us all wired a certain way that we receive such joy and peace by doing certain things.  For some it may be teaching, for others it is health care, and others it may be in the arts.  It is my belief that you have some kind of calling… and maybe it changes with the seasons or the passing of time.  Whatever it is, God needs you doing that thing for whatever reason.  He needs you there.
  5. Share.  It’s a running theme here, the sharing thing.  I cannot emphasize it enough.  You cannot let the love flow if you aren’t being authentic.  You cannot be authentic if you are keeping all of your “stuff” locked up like Pandora’s Box.  It WILL come out somehow.  If you aren’t sharing your “stuff” in healthy ways, it’s going to show in other ways like emotional problems, behavioral problems and physiological problems.  God calls us to bear each other’s burdens.  There are people in your life that you can depend on to accept your burdens.  If not, there are qualified people out there that can help.

Happy New Year to you!  Make it a good one!