“It changed my heart” said my Roman Catholic sister .
“Really, it changed my heart ” Kate said as she held her fist over her the sweater.
Her sweater was clinging to her shirt; her shirt clinging to her skin; and her skin was sealing all the tissue and bones that covered her heart.
” How deep the heart is hidden within us” I thought as her fist bounced against her chest.
” It’s a lot of layers to go through to get to this matter of a heart “, I thought.
“you know what I am saying don’t you?” Kate spoke like a teacher making sure I understood her.
Yet, today outside Kate’s church, it was strange to hear Kate speak. She was not at all speaking in the position or role of a teacher, she was speaking as a sister.
Years ago, I had been the one learning from her about the ways of the heart. Today, after mass, we were students together with the same teacher. Jesus.
“I remember what you said about the heart ” she said to me. I felt uncomfortably forgetful of what I had said. She spoke softly outside the entrance of her church.
Kate whispered her story . She paused at the conflict in the story to say, ” Vanessa, I had to forgive this person who hurt me deeply by things they said” Kate looked as if this work called “forgive” had been the greatest effort of her heart . Face at rest now, she spoke words of an attack on her heart. She spoke as if she had been assaulted and immobilized by an enemy and and somehow set alive and free by an angel.
She looked as if this enemy of the heart ,unforgiveness, had tried to deface the beauty and strength of her heart .(1) Speaking moment by moment of the crippling thoughts of self justification and rehearsed hurt, Kate spoke like a burglar had entered the peaceful home of her heart. It was as if this thief, unforgiveness, did not knock loudly or ask for an invite, but instead, pushed and bolted through every layer of defense into Kate’s heart. Once in, it sounded as if it tied her whole being to a post leaving it immobile with strings of anger and bitterness and distrust trailing her every move. (2) But now, now, while words spoke of war, her face spoke peace.
She looked as if something had freed her. Unforgiveness must have been violently evicted from her heart. Perhaps now, every bitter string was running homeless in the dust , unattached and powerless .
There was no damage to Kate from this Unforgiveness. In fact she looked like the day I first met her 15 years ago. Fifteen years ago, I was a student and she, a teacher. On that day, Kate was pointing to a picture of and anatomical heart on a large news print paper flip chart. The chart was set on a easel in a small classroom. All this was arranged down a long hall in a large hospital. Tall was the easel next to Kate. Petite and precise was Kate presenting the working of God’s magnificient creation: the heart of a human. Snuggly, chair against chair fit while many new eager nurses fixed their eyes on Kate. Late to the class, I anxiously looked for a seat.
“Right here Vanessa” Kate’s voice was kind as she read my name tag and gracefully waved her hand to an open seat.
She continued teaching as I took a seat,”The heart has both mechanical functions and electrical functions” “injuries and assaults to either function can change the heart” She then began to draw a dark spot on the upper portion of a sketched heart as she explained different factors that could hurt the heart. Elegant her voice and hands as they together emphasized each word. Urgent her every expression. She spoke as if it really were a matter of life and death this thing called “the heart” of man. Every sense of each student was pulled to engage its attention towards this magnificent master organ: . Eyes following hands, ears capturing words . . you could almost see and hear the life of a HEARTBEAT in the room.
“you see an injury here can affect the whole electrical and mechanical system of the heart and that is where you develop arrhythmias”. “an arrythmia is anything that is not the ‘normal”syned fuction of the heart.’ Kate explained.
“yes ” I awoke from my memory of our first meeting to answer Kate
” are you hearing me Vanessa ?”Kate prodded.
” Oh yes Kate it so has that affect . .It messes up our rhythem. ”
“That’s it ” she said with excitement. Her tone was like the “aha” of a student . Like the “ahas” she had produced in me so many times.
I looked at her hand remain over her heart. She was no longer speaking of hearts of the flesh of man. Fifteen years later, She was now standing before me speaking of another heart. She was speaking of how Unforgiveness affects the conduction and function of the heart in the soul of man.
” When I let what they said about me hurt me really deeply, I noticed I was thinking about it all the time. The, I found I spoke about it often. So often I brought up the hurt that you would think they were hurting me everyday. But the worst part for me was when I saw my husband felt the hurt for me as well! Suddenly , he was unforgiving too! I was spreading the injury!”(3)
Her hand remained over her heart. ” Hurt.” My mind meandered again to my first day with Kate.
The classic symptom is “chest pain” Kate explained to the novice nurses. “Every patient describes their hurt differently” Kate would say. With a MI, a myocardial infarction, an assalt and injury due to lack of blood supply to a particular section of the heart. The injury could have tissue proximal to it die as well . The infarction could spread affecting one, at worst, unto death, or, at least, in rate and rhythm of life.
How much the same is the heart of the soul of man, I have thought. Perhaps the heart of the soul gets a particular injury from the words of another. Perhaps it shuts off the blood supply of Jesus to a particular part of the heart of the soul. Perhaps then we experience an excruciating pain.. it is accepting the judgement of another and letting it lodge like a clot into our heart. It causes an infarction of a tender beating heart. It changes its rhythym, it interrupts its flow, it hinders its function. Then, quickly, a section of our heart dies . And like a necrosis, bitterness comes spreads to kill another section till we lay almost dead .Dead hearted. And then, deadhearted and diseased, we spread our unforgiveness to anyone nearby.
” so I took what was read in mass and I truly believed what Jesus said” Kate dropped her hand from her chest reaching towards me.
‘I hope you learned something ” she had said in class as I left that day. The day along time ago when I was an infant in faith and so innocent of injury.
Remembering my own assaults to the heart of my soul, every sense from that moment was captured as I looked at Kate. I could almost taste and smell death of the heart of our souls.Chest pain. Chest pain. . . I could hear men yell and defend their heart and women whine and deny their heart. So the heart of the soul worked like the heart of the flesh when injured and it strained in agonal beats . . . .
When an infarction occurs, if the blood supply is cut off ,more and more of the heart will die” I remember Kate say
” I remember you said that ‘without his word you would die'” she said to me. I jostled away from my dreaming analogy. Suddenly, it felt as if she was eavesdropping into my thoughts.
“What was that Kate?” I asked ”
“you said ” The Word gave you Life”. she replied to me.
Kate continued ” So I took the reading of Matthew 18:22. . . . where Jesus tells Peter to forgive 70 times 70 and everytime my thoughts beat a unforgiving note, I forgave. . it was at least 70 times 7 “. She smiled and thumped her fist in her hand beating it rhythmically, and now here I am”
“In CPR we mimic the rhythm of the heart at least 100 beats a minute. . .60 – 90 is a normal beat But if we want to perfuse the heart in our compressions we must pump more,. we must keep it alive’ Kate had taught me.
“forgive us as we forgive” I would say to myself over and over, Kate explained.
Lub Dub, Lub Dub . .Kate spoke the sound of the heart.
“I said it over and over again.” Kate repeated
Lub Dub Lub Dub. . . a heart beating. . .you must do compression to the rhythm of the song “Staying Alive”. . press, press,press, staying alive , staying alive.
” soon , I was free of all that hurt Vanessa. Even more, I was not speaking against them but loving them. It is life.!!! Truly life what is said here” Kate pointed through the door to the pulpit of her church. Then she pointed to the Bible I held against my chest.
Behind Kate hung A large banner . On the banner was a picture of the large hand of Jesus, reaching down to a bended woman. Written around the picture were words proclaiming “the year of Mercy” in her church. It spoke of an open door of Mercy for all. It spoke of the Year of Jubilee.
More vibrant than the banner, louder than any words was Kate. The banner looked ever so lifeless and dim behind her radiance. The picture of Jesus’s hand seemed invisible against a visible hand on Kates heart. Oh but how vast this hand that guards and holds our hearts!! It has rescued us from death and hell, it has synced us into a perfect rhythm of Life. And life to the fullest !. It had resuscitated Kate with a word. The banner seemed merely an advertisement for a year of hearts such as hers.
Return oh heart to your healer. Hear His Word and you will be healed of hurt and you will Forgive as He has for given you!
- As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” Proverbs 27:19 ESV http://bible.com/59/pro.27.19.esv a womans beauty is found in the hidden person of the heart . But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4 ESV http://bible.com/59/1pe.3.4.esv
- And in anger his master delivered him TO THE JAILERS, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. Matthew 18:34-35 http://bible.com/59/mat.18.34-35.esv Jesus tell us that unforgiveness is like a “jailer” binding us into greater debt, the one we owe our Father for all of our unrighteousness.
- For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness, All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person “ Mark 7:21-22 ESV http://bible.com/59/mrk.7.21-22.esv