This is the final chapter of my heart story – at least for now…
A week passed and life started up again full throttle. All summer we had been preparing for something new – homeschool to start in the fall. The Lord had placed this desire, this mandate so to speak, upon my heart earlier this spring and countless hours had been spent researching and planning and preparing for the start of this new adventure.
With such a busy summer I knew I would need to rest after having the baby so I would be refreshed and revitalized when school commenced. But life rarely goes according to plan – it’s a lesson I keep learning again and again. And the week I had penciled in my planner – the week Patrick had off work – I planned to rest. I had visions of snuggling my new baby boy, getting to know him, napping – just slow, gentle time easing our family into this new season.
But the “heartbreak” happened and the restful week turned into a testing week. We were exhausted, but still we plunged on – charged with the energy of what seemed a second chance at life.
So, with my heart on the mend, the children were ready and anxious to begin school, and before I knew it, we were thrown back into life. The zest of excitement in teaching my children, the magic sparkle of embarking on a learning adventure with them every day was rich and soul-satisfying. I felt I had stepped into a fairy tale. Motherhood took on new layers of depth and meaning I never before knew existed. My heart swelled with a joy so complete that I almost forgot about my heart complications.
And yet, in the midst of all this goodness, there was a nagging inside me. It was a small feeling of unease but I couldn’t decipher what it was trying to tell me. Not until last weekend, when I came down with a cold, did the small feeling turn into a small voice…I needed to process the trauma I had been through. I stumbled upon Ann Voskamp’s most recent blog post and the hot tears that coursed down my cheeks as I read about her daughter’s recent heart surgery made me realize I hadn’t journaled about my experience fully. You see, there’s a danger in moving too quickly from the wake of a storm back to regular life. We need time. Time to process the lessons as we heal. Otherwise, the lessons are lost. The Master Sculptor is ever trying to shape us into beautiful works of art. But if we don’t take the time to learn from our trials, our sculpting process is slowed or halted altogether. Yes, there was more to be discovered from my Peripartum Cardiomyopathy and it could only be found in the stillness.
And like He always does, the Lord provided a way for me to do just that. To my delighted suprise, my sweet grandparents called me up and offered to take my three older children for a visit to their house. They came on Tuesday, and with the flexibility of school at home, my children left with their backpacks bulging and ear-to-ear grins on their faces. I was alone with my baby and it was time to go within.
I opened my rose-gold planner-journal to a clean, smooth sheet and titled it: “Heart Pondering.” For the next several hours, my pen flew across the page as the words flowed through my mind.
I started with questions: “My heart was breaking and it hurt to breathe. Why was it breaking? Why was it beating so slowly? Why was it enlarged? Why was there excess fluid around my heart and lungs?”
And as I pondered there, the answers came. Perhaps I had been packing away too much “unnecessary fluid” in the forms of criticism and judgments toward myself and others, and the ever-alluring path of perfectionism. Perhaps on a mental and emotional level, this lack of love had slowed my heart down.
On a physical level, perhaps I had asked my heart to do too much. With all good intentions, I had planned to rest during this pregnancy, but instead I increased my pace with moving to the Middle House, planning homeschool, and living out family vacations. I had over-sacrificed myself throughout the pregnancy and despite the fact that I had promised myself I would slow down and take it easy, I sped up.
And when the heart problems came, they forced me to slow down and come to a complete halt as I lay there in the emergency room feeling so close to death. All I wanted was my family. All I cared about was my family. And all I wanted was to be healed so I could go home and hold them once more. Nothing else mattered. Life felt altogether so overwhelmingly beautiful and so achingly fragile.
And while the lessons from that fateful night were so poignant and my perspective had shifted permanently, I realized that my actions had not. Soon after the trauma I was right back to where I had started – over-sacrificing and not taking enough time for myself to rest and recharge.
I determined the lessons would not be lost on me.
This grace? This love? It’s the antidote to every heartbreak on earth. It was the love of my Savior through words of scripture. Love of my husband and love for my children that I held onto for dear life. Love of family and friends through their charitable service and those heavenly angels that are just across the veil. I was mended back together in that broken place by Love.
And now it’s time to love my heart back to wholeness. I will love my Savior stronger than I ever have before. He will be my anchor and my rock. I will love myself better through the continual gift of stillness and self-compasision. I will love my family with kind words and kisses, gratitude and grace, shared memories and lots of listening. I will love my friends and my enemies with just a little bit more service, just a few more prayers in their behalf. I will love my life by leaving the “path of perfectionism” to pursue the “art of excellence.”
Because in the end? Love is all that matters. Love binds up our hearts, binds us to Christ, and binds us together. Yes, it is true. Overwhelming love is the prescription to all our heart afflictions and it’s this love that will keep our hearts beating strong.