This post was originally published on my former anonymous blog on April 9, 2012. I’m having a tough time this week, sliding on some slippery ice and I don’t want to write anything new until I’ve safely landed. I like to read through old journals and posts when I’m feeling off because they help me get perspective. This post speaks to me right now.
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I sometimes have trouble falling asleep after a hectic day with my two kiddos. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed, feeling exhausted but being unable to drift off to sleep. I’ve tried various relaxation techniques and finally stumbled upon something that works. As I lay in bed, I put my hands over my heart and concentrate on feeling my heart beat. The first time I did it, I was taken aback. I didn’t just feel my heart beating; I felt it pumping. As I thought about what my heart was doing, I was blown away by the power of it and by how little control I had over this vital function of my body. Sometimes, when I try to feel my heart, I can’t feel the beat at all. The act of trying to feel it still lulls me to sleep but I find myself wondering, what does it mean that I can’t feel my heart beating? I’m breathing, so I must be alive. Right?
I went to church on Sunday with my parents for the first time since becoming a Christian. I was excited but a little apprehensive because I haven’t been to church in a very long time. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The pastor’s sermon was about dreaming impossible dreams and things that threaten to kill our dreams. He told a story about a woman having open heart surgery, her blood being oxygenated by a machine, her heart temporarily stopped. Her medical team completes the procedure and performs the final step of restarting her heart. Her surgeon places the paddles against her heart and jolts it. Nothing happens. He does it again. Still, no heartbeat. He goes to the head of the operating table, leans down and whispers into her ear, “Tell your heart to start beating.” When he tries the paddles again, her heart begins to beat.
When the pastor said the words, “Tell your heart to start beating,” I was overcome with emotion. I thought about what it means to be truly alive. It’s so much more than breathing, dragging myself out of bed, eating to survive. How long has it been since I enjoyed doing something without thinking about what I’m going to do next? When was the last time I smelled a flower without worrying about an allergy attack or lingered in the shower until the hot water ran out? I can go through an entire day with my kids without ever really seeing them. There’s always something else to do or think about. Have I ever shut my mind off long enough to feel the presence and power of God coursing through my body? What am I waiting for?
As I stood among that holy gathering, tears streaming down my face, held in my parents’ embrace, I told my heart to start beating. I didn’t ask it. I didn’t wait patiently for it to do it in its own time. I didn’t pray for something to make it happen.
I told my heart to start beating.