Today was a fairly pivotal day for me. I had the unique opportunity today to see if my heart would pass a stress test… twice! To give you a fair picture of what I’m talking about, I need to back up a bit.
A little more than two weeks ago I started experiencing some minor “heart” symptoms. It kind of felt like there was a big weight sitting right in the middle of my chest. That pressure was accompanied by some mild anxiety. Initially, I paid no attention to it, as these symptoms sometimes appear in my body when my hormone levels get a little goofy. I know what it is, and know how to effectively make it right. No problem! But this time the symptoms didn’t go away like usual.
Just a few days ago, I awoke to a pain so severe right between my shoulder blades that it actually knocked the wind out of me. The pain radiated through my chest and did not subside. Naturally, this happened as I was home alone with my two youngest children. I thought I could just ignore these symptoms and they would go away. So I got up and made breakfast for the kids. But not only did the symptoms not subside… They actually got worse. I tried to call my husband, who was away at softball practice, with no success. At this point I had gone into full out panic mode. My heart began racing out of control. That, combined with the back pain and chest pressure, led me to believe I was actually having a heart attack. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting my children to see their mother fall to the ground and die right in front of them, I grabbed the phone, dialed 911 and ran into another room where my kids couldn’t see me. The nice man on the other end of the phone talked me through the panic and pain. He graciously stayed on the phone with me until the paramedics arrived.
After running a battery of tests, the EMT’s determined that there was no immediate threat. I was not actually having a heart attack. They did, however, strongly recommend that I go straight to the E.R.. The paramedics stayed with me until we finally got a hold of my husband, Neal. Within a short time, he was home. Taking the EMT’s advice, Neal took me to the emergency room. We spent the greater portion of the day there having multiple tests done, only to be told after several hours that there was nothing wrong… go home. The instructions were to follow up with my primary care physician… Which I did. My primary doctor ordered a nuclear stress test for me. And that brings me to the present.
While the pain in my back had subsided quite a bit over the past few days, the chest pressure hadn’t. I could barely sleep last night, because I was so nervous about taking this stress test. You have to know that this is one test you don’t EVER want to fail. My nerves were absolutely getting the best of me. With frequent episodes of panic and anxiety, it was really too hard to tell if what I was experiencing was in my heart or in my head. Either way, I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. I made sure to pray over my kids and give them extra big hugs and kisses as I shipped them out the door for school this morning.
While experiencing yet another bout of anxiety, I heard God speak very clearly to me. “What are you so afraid of?”
REALLY GOD?!? Have You NOT been paying attention to what’s going on with me lately?!? What am I so afraid of?!?
It was quite obvious what I was afraid of… What if I die? What if Neal has to raise the kids without me? What if God wasn’t willing to help me because I did this to myself? I opened the door to fear and allowed a stronghold of the enemy to manifest more powerfully than I was believing God’s stronghold on me is. What if, what if, what if!?! There are so many “what if’s”. Too many to count. That, God, is what I’m so afraid of.
And then I heard it again… “So what are you so afraid of?”
I thought about it for a bit. If I tell Him what I’m afraid of, and He asks me again… I must be missing something. What if I die? Well, I’ve received Jesus as my savior. So I’ll be in the most magnificent place with the most magnificent person. I’ll be in Heaven with Jesus. What if Neal has to raise the kids without me? Well, Neal is an amazing, attentive, smart, loving dad. He’s totally capable of doing a spectacular job of raising them. I have total confidence in him. What if God wasn’t willing to help me because I did this to myself? I opened the door to fear and allowed a stronghold of the enemy to manifest more powerfully than I was believing God’s stronghold on me is. Hmmmm… ouch. What if that’s true? I’m in big trouble.
It became apparent to me that this was the true root of my fear. What if Satan was stronger than God? Oh, make no mistake. I know he isn’t. But what if he is, only in my world, because it’s where my faith was. I was crossing my fingers, praying in tongues, quoting scripture, and doing anything else I could think of to make things right. None of it seemed to be working though. My faith wasn’t in any of those things. My faith was in the devil’s ability to walk right through the door I opened for him. After all, if I didn’t have a reason to question the health of my heart, the devil couldn’t convince me it was broken. Right? So this is my fault. I deserve whatever I get.
A couple hours later while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital to have my stress test, as yet another bout of anxiety was settling in, I prayed. I admitted that I was sitting in that room questioning the health of my heart because I had taken the gift of this temple and made light of it. I admitted to succumbing to the lies of the enemy that I deserve the struggle. Someone has to pay for my past mistakes. I was ready for God to look at me with a “Yes you did, but maybe I will clean up your mess… again” kind of look. But that’s not what I saw in my spirit. I saw Psalm 46.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress
Nothing but Grace. Nothing but love. Nothing but comfort and assurance. Of all the lies I had believed, one was actually a half truth. Someone did have to pay for all my past mistakes. That someone was Jesus. Paid in full.
Today I had two stress tests to pass… The first spiritual and the second physical. I am happy to say that I believe I’ve passed both. J The anxiety I’ve been experiencing has all but disappeared. I won’t actually have the doctors’ report about my time on the treadmill today for a few days yet. But it doesn’t matter. God is my refuge and my strength. He is my ever present help in trouble. I will not fear. I will be still and know that He is God.