In July of last year, I experienced heart failure. Takatsubo cardiomyopathy, to be exact.
A more informal name for it is broken-heart syndrome. It is usually triggered by emotional stress and anxiety.
This, indeed, is what I had been experiencing prior to the attack.
Copyright: irstone / 123RF Stock Photo
My husband, Benjy, rushed me to the ER in Bend, Oregon, where we were staying. Fortunately, my cousin is a cardiologist there. He was able to observe the cardiac catheterization and confirm the results. He also told me that, considering all the possible scenarios of my symptoms, this particular diagnosis was the least critical—but it was still serious. The prescribed treatment included rest, not being involved in stressful and anxious situations, as well as slowing down.
Unfortunately, slowing down has always been difficult for me.
When I finally arrived home, I jumped right back into my world of hurry and worry. As a result, I experienced stress, anxiety, and chest pain. It snowballed to where I literally couldn’t slow down long enough to catch my breath.
Benjy had to keep reminding me to slow down, rest, and stop worrying. But I couldn’t. Or, I should say, I wouldn’t.
Then, in August, Benjy and I attended Riverfest, our bi-annual church retreat. During the Saturday morning session, one of our pastors taught a lesson on living the “unhurried” life. When she said she had never been accused of being in a hurry, I had to laugh, because I’ve never been accused of being slow!
She talked about the importance of slowing down, especially when it comes to important things. Again, I was hearing those familiar words: slow down. This prompted a Simon & Garfunkel song in my head, called “The 59th Street Bridge Song”:
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy
Though the verbiage is rather dated, the song nevertheless helped me realize that I indeed needed to slow down, rest, and “watch the flowers growin’.”
But did I? No.
More recently, the anxiety and hurriedness on which I placed so much value came to a head. Benjy and I were having a heated discussion about my inability to slow down and worry less. This led to a—shall I say—passionate debate concerning our priorities and our abilities at this time of our lives.
We asked ourselves the question that one of our pastors teaches: “God, what are you doing, and what are you saying?”
From the still, small voice of wisdom we received the answer we had known all along: “Slow down, rest, and place our anxious thoughts at the foot of the cross.” We then realized what this would require. It meant stepping back as leaders of two small groups, letting go of some of our extended family’s needs, and spending time with the Lord in his word and his presence.
Needless to say, it’s been tough trying to do as God asks. But I am trying. During the moments of being alone with him, I have felt his love and compassion. I’ve been reminded over and over again who he is, what he has done and will do, and that I am his personal concern.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
I am thankful that I am God’s personal concern. By his strength and in his good time, he will strengthen me as I humble myself, slow down, and throw the weight of my anxieties on him. Perhaps then I’ll start feeling “groovy”!
Pam Guerrero has been attending The River since 2005. She loves being a wife, mother, and grandmother, as well as a follower of Jesus. Currently, she resides in a cute little house in the East Bay with her handsome husband Benjy, occasional family members, and an obstinate cockroach that won’t leave the premises. She is still learning to be thankful in every circumstance.