Above all else, guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it. Prov 4:23 NIV
This month, started with a jolt ... Normally I like to read the theme of the month in the beginning and contemplate its focus leading up to the 21, my posting date.
This May my life question is what do heart attacks and criticism have in common? Besides that both can happen to you, or someone close to you, and can leave the heart in a critical state?
Thurs morning May 2, my daughter in overseas ministry sent the message that her 67-year-old father-in-law had had a heart attack and was being rushed from the regional hospital to the cardiac centre. Please pray! This came out of the blue for all concerned. The reports they received and conversations with John himself had them believing he was well cared for, and that the other son was managing things well. For now, they would stay put and monitor the situation closely.
I have learned the degree of how critique impacts you, is how close you are to the work, or the person involved; and who the person giving the critique is. For myself, I know that encouragement goes further than criticism, no matter how constructive. For many of us, our writing is like little parts of our heart that we put out to the world. So criticism feels painful, everyone has written well on that aspect.
Two days after hospitalization, John's message of: On the mend everybody. I am feeling pretty good. Thanks for caring, Have a good day. Everyone felt relief, until my husband, who is a physician, and I went to see him the next day. Initially, we marveled at how well he looked as he joked with us from his hospital bed. John's cardiogram was on the bedside table, free for us to view and Harold did. As we walked out of the hospital, my husband's eyes widened as he turned to me and said, “That man is lucky to be alive, he had what we call the widow-maker. And he's not out of the woods yet, I think the kids should come home.” With heavy hearts, we contemplated what to say to my daughter; how to pass on pertinent information to help them make a more well-informed decision about a trip to Canada. It is like trying to give honest feedback to someone ... it can be hard to do, especially when we think something needs changing. We spoke to another physician who knows my daughter and he supported the idea to share what we know. Pass on the information, and what they do with it, was their decision. When it comes to medical matters, I have also learned that people do not always receive information well, or it can be misunderstood. The signs of his heart attack were confusing, and John did not believe that this was happening to him; he was too late for the clot-busting drugs. Irreversible damage had been done. If only he had heeded the warning signs and gone in earlier, his outcome would have been much different. But the denial of symptoms is one of the big factors in fatalities. I also believe that had his wife still been alive, she would have insisted he go to the hospital. (She passed away eleven months ago.)
Matters of the heart.
The decision for my daughter and her family was taken out of their hands after John had a second cardiac arrest. They came and were thankful to spend time with him. He is not out of the woods yet. I was privileged to have opportunities to help out with grandkid time and meal service. Life is a mixed bag.
So what do heart attacks and criticism have in common? What I have learned is that when life is visited by troubles and sorrow, we have opportunities to put things into perspective. In the end, whether we received more critiques or praise will not make that much difference, but how we live our lives is what really counts. The best gifts are within our grasp. This does not negate trying to write our best, but this heart reminder put things in perspective for me. Our lives are filled with many ordinary blessed moments, and as long as my heart keeps beating strong, I want my life to be filled with gratitude for the beauty of life and the creator of that beauty. May I encourage you today, to give someone heart-felt encouragement!
Garden of Hope Flowers planted with my NA granddaughter.
Lord, teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom,
a heart of love
not a heart clogged with worries, self-criticism, and anxieties of this world.