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Lessons From a Heart Attack: Family Perspective (Part 1)
My family has been a huge blessing and encouragement to me and even more so since my Heart Attack this past December. They have willingly accepted without complaint the various changes that we have made in our home and have repeatedly helped to keep me accountable to the things God has been showing me. I am grateful for each member of my family, for their love and compassion towards me and their willingness to help pick me up when I stumble and encourage me as I continue to grow in His grace.
Although from my view, I have felt I was the direct target of God’s love through my heart attack and it was for my sanctification I am blessed that my family has allowed God to show them lessons to apply to their lives. As I said in “Lesson #3 From a Heart Attack: We influence others more than we think! we can influence those around us positively or negatively by how we respond to the events that affect us. I have asked the ladies in my home if they would be willing to write a short post about how God has used this heart attack in their life and they have so willingly agreed.
This first post was written by my beautiful and loving wife Sherry. She is my best friend, a wonderful encourager and the joy of my heart.
The first thing that comes to my mind is the importance of gratitude. It can be so easy to take things for granted; whether that is material things, opportunities, or people. God has blessed Donn and me with a strong relationship where we daily express our love to each other and regularly express gratitude, yet this experience has made me even more conscious of noticing the little things, the daily things, and not just noticing them but expressing them to my loved ones. On December 11, 2011 I could have lost the opportunity to ever again tell Donn what he means to me. I could have lost the opportunity to ever tell him again that I love him, or that I appreciate the way he makes me feel safe and secure. I could have lost the opportunity to ever tell him how handsome I think he is, how much I love to hear him laugh or how much I love spending time with him. Forever gone to me could have been the opportunity to say thank you for the little things like taking my dish to the counter, bringing home a candy bar to me or filling the gas tank up for me. I could have lost the opportunity to thank him for working so hard to provide not only for our needs but most of our wants too. I could have never had the chance to express to him again how much his spiritual leadership means to me and how proud I am of him. It is easy in the daily grind to overlook these things or come to expect them therefore letting them loose their meaning. Along the way it’s easy to become “thin skinned” allowing ourselves to get hurt over insignificant things, those things that didn’t bother us when we were just beginning our relationship together. This experience has opened my eyes to how precious TODAY is, for it may be all we have. The Bible reminds us in James 4:14 “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Tomorrow is not promised to us or to our loved ones so I need to make today count because tomorrow may be too late.
Another thing that really hit me is that today’s actions, whether good or bad, have consequences. I may not see the consequences right away, but they are there and will eventually make themselves known. The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will reap also.” Eating that second helping on a regular basis, or often in our case, that bowl of ice cream each night before bed, adds up. I may not see it on the scales today, or even this month but if I keep it up I will eventually see those results. If I lie, I very well may get away with it, but if I lie on a regular basis I will eventually get caught. If I’m too busy to weed my garden it may not make a difference this week or even next but eventually the weeds will overtake the garden and ruin the hope I had for home grown veggies. Neglecting one’s health may not seem to make a difference now, but a life style of neglecting it will eventually reap unwanted results. Donn’s heart attack reminded me that choosing to indulge in the wrong food, or refusing to get the exercise we all know we need is not something that only affects me. If Donn had died from his heart attack it would have affected many more people than just him. I am not an island unto myself. What I do matters not only to God, but I need to also stop being self focused and realize that the things I do affect many more people than just me and I need to act accordingly. The other week Donn and I were up very early and were headed to the gym and Donn said to me, “Remind me again why we are doing this.” He was just being funny, but it made me seriously think about an answer and later I told him, “We are doing this so one day we can be a part of our grandchildren’s lives.” Too often I am guilty of not thinking through the long term consequences of my actions and I am seeing how this experience has reminded me of that importance.
I would like to end with this last lesson I learned and that is, God needs to be my all in all. Though I love Donn beyond words my identity needs to be in Christ Alone. My ultimate security, fulfillment, peace, joy, love, satisfaction needs to be found in my relationship with Christ. Yes, God has placed people in my life who help to enhance these qualities, but I need to look to God as the one who truly meets these needs in my life. This means I need to have a thriving relationship with Him. Just as it is important to not overlook what Donn means to me or has done for me, I need to not overlook all that God has done for me. He loved me enough to sacrifice His son on my behalf so I wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for my sin. People fail us, people leave us, yet God is always faithful. In the fear I experienced as I was all alone at the hospital and Donn was having his heart attack, I can say “the peace of God which passes all understanding kept my heart and mind through Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:7) Had God chosen to take Donn that day I would have experienced the greatest loss of my life, yet I knew no matter the outcome God would sustain me. Yes, I would grieve, I would hurt, I would be tempted to not want to carry on, yet I know without a doubt that God would carry me through anything He allowed in my life. There is no greater comfort and no greater lesson I could have learned than that. —Sherry
Thanks Sherry for caring for me, showing me that you love me and most importantly, loving God, for without a deep and abiding relationship with God all other relationships will ultimately fail. Ecclesiastes 4:12 “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”