Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Matters of the Heart

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23

"Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate." Psalms 143:4

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalms 147:3

So, its been three weeks...I'm back at home, adjusting into my new job, and although I didn't want too much time to pass between posts, I also didn't want to "force" things, such as posting something for the sake of posting. A few noteworthy items caught my attention, such as the visit of Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Columbia University, and the resulting furor it caused. I considered writing about something that I only learned last year, which is this man considers himself the one who will introduce the world to the Islamic Messiah, the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi. I will explore that at a later time, because I'm certain many saints, especially in the US, aren't aware of this. Were it not for the ministry of Evangelist Perry Stone, who is great teacher of the Hebraic/Jewish roots of Christianity, I would probably still be totally unaware of this. However, I decided to reserve this for another time.

Which brings me to my topic ...matters of the heart, where to begin? ... The last few years of being single, I became a mini-crusader of sorts, and made it a point to encourage other single people I knew. I was on the email list of a few ministries that targeted the single audience, and their somewhat unique place in the Christian world. Churches often target married people, and young people, i.e, teenagers and college students, in specialized ministry groups within their local bodies, but singles in some church circles, have a weird place in that microcosm.

I still have a special place in my heart for single people, but I'm no longer at the place in my life where I can say I "totally relate" because I'm not single. Those years, however, even though they may have been few according to some people, were integral in my emotional, mental and spiritual maturing. My attention, after getting married, naturally turned to seeking out ministries that "cater" to married people ..but I haven't been as willing to share what I learn or come across with others, admittedly because of my own fear that it will arouse concern in friends/family at best, and suspicion about my marital state at worst.

But let me get back to the heart ... It is often used as a symbol of love... However, I like to think of it as having a dual role... both in the matters of love, but more importantly as a symbol of the soul, specifically the condition of the soul. The word heart is mentioned 833 times in the bible and many times the context in which its mentioned is that of the thoughts, intentions, motives. When one thinks of heart matters... relationships come to mind as well...

We've seen "matters of the heart" play out, unfortunately, in public all too many times. Recently, the national spotlight has been on the "heart matters" between two "powerhouse" couples in the Pentecostal/Charismatic vein of Christianity, much to the chagrin of many, that played out on the world's stage. Prophetess Juanita Bynum broke her silence two weeks after the much publicized beating at the hands (and feet) of her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks. The very next day, Randy and Paula White announced to their church that they are divorcing after 18 years of marriage. I haven't read or heard much being said about Paula and Randy as I have about Juanita Bynum and Bishop Weeks.

Both Bynum and Weeks have been roundly criticized by "average joes" in the church, other ministries, and secular personalities as well. Frankly, some of them have made some valid points. For instance, this past Sunday, BET aired a hour program called Exalted and this weeks subject was Prophetess Bynum. Her family and close friends were interviewed, and they all had wonderful things to say about her. Of course, the recent events in her life were also profiled. I couldn't help but to agree with one minister's comment that above all else she is concerned about Bynum's public appearances since the beating and that Prophetess Bynum is not taking care of herself. A minister named Jonathan Walton also posted an open letter to her on his blog about her recent crusade as the new face of domestic violence. Read this post on his blog as well. Again, I'm not taking sides, but he does have some valid points, and openly asks what others have been saying in secret and in other blogs all over the web. Bishop Weeks apparently broke his silence recently as well at a recent press conference, as seen here. I have no doubt both thier hearts are hurting... and hurting both figuratively and literally ...

I remember the times when I experienced that fleeting, funny niggling thing in my heart times something hurtful was said or done in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. It dawned on me at some point that "heartbreak" is quite literal and really can be felt. It's no secret that marriage is under attack, and the fact that Christian marriages fail at about the same rate as marriages between non-Christians is disheartening to say the least. One couple, Mark and Kathy Davisson, have turned a horrendous marriage into happy, fulfilling one and now minister to other couples to help them do the same. Take a read through thier website, and see they are making a difference one couple at a time.

I'm on this couples email list, and have shared their newsletter once with other young marrieds like me, and also a few single people. The trials of the aforementioned couples have not escaped their notice either...but something in their most recent letter really caught my eye, and it got me to thinking about matters of the heart.. and as it turns out, that little thing I felt in my heart during times of deep emotional hurt, wasn't something to take lightly. They mentioned a recently published NY Times article which stated the findings of a recent study about how marital spats affect both men and women was published, and as it turns out, keeping quiet during an argument damages women, but not men.

Some highlights:
"But women who didn’t speak their minds in those fights were four times as likely to die during the 10-year study period as women who always told their husbands how they felt, according to the July report in Psychosomatic Medicine."

"'When you’re suppressing communication and feelings during conflict with your husband, it’s doing something very negative to your physiology, and in the long term it will affect your health,' said Elaine Eaker, an epidemiologist in Gaithersburg, Md., who was the study’s lead author. 'This doesn’t mean women should start throwing plates at their husbands, but there needs to be a safe environment where both spouses can equally communicate.'" -- a state the Davisson's call "being emotionally safe".

Science is proving what the Word of God has said all along -- one's emotional state not only affects the soul, but it also plays itself out in the body. Sinking feelings in your stomach, butterflies in the stomach, stabbing pains in the heart in response to emotional stress is the body's way of letting us know the mind-body connection is indeed real.

As I related in another post, prolonged states of emotional stress, shutting down own's emotions, stuffing your feelings, whatever you want to call it, affects us internally, and if not dealt with, not only darkens the soul, but afflicts the body as well. Pastor Henry Wright of Pleasant Valley Church of Thomaston, Georgia has proven this over and over in the ministry God has given him which addresses the roots of disease. On his biography page he states "Today, Psychology is the fruit of that frustration as an attempt to manage the diseases of the soul (emphasis mine) through therapy and drugs." Listen to a radio interview (week one) Sid Roth conducted with him over two weeks (week two), and you will no doubt come away enlightened about how deeply our emotions affect us. One thing that stood out to me -- unforgiveness is often the emotional root cause of cancer.

I've experienced some emotionally trying things in my own life recently, and get concerned about the unknown effects they may be having on my body. Because of what I've learned intellectually, I know I have to go the Lord, cry out to Him and allow His spirit to heal my figurative heart, and also whatever unknown damage has occured in my body. My prayer is that you, dear reader,do the same, not just for yourself, but for others, especially other women, who you know who have damaged hearts that have not begun to heal.

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