I have a heart condition. At least that is what I call it. For years I have struggled with a nagging pain in my chest. Simple tasks like climbing the stairs with a load of laundry, sprinting after a wandering child in the parking lot, or riding a bike up a hill quickly bring on this sharp pain. The intensity catches my breath and most quickly resides if I lay down and just breathe deeply.
At the plea of family members, I finally had it checked out. I saw a cardiologist, pulmonologist, gastroenterologist, and an endocrinologist. With stress tests, ultrasounds, endoscopic procedures, biopsies, and blood work no one could determine the cause or reason for my pain. I’m healthy and have been given the green light for any physical activity I’d like, but when the sudden pain brings me to my knees, I have learned to stop and listen to what my body needs.
A Desire to Train my Heart
For years my heart condition kept me from being physically active like I wanted. It was suggested I try training my heart to improve its condition. Tired of the nagging pain I was determined to try. I got a gym membership, set goals to run small races, and started training and working to get my heart to listen to me. My training did not fix the pain but made it easier to work through. There were still moments where it was just easier to surrender – and sometimes I did.
When some friends suggested we try tandem biking, I felt somewhat hesitant. My husband had been biking for years, and there was no way I could match his level of endurance. With an open mind, I agreed to a “trial” ride. I was surprised to discover new options in working through my pain. With my husband there to help carry the load, I could train my heart to do more than it had it years.
Once I felt confident in my skills on the tandem, I was able to graduate to a single bike — riding solo. My first ride out I crashed just as I came to a stop. The balance and coordination were different and took some adjusting.
Once again I planned and prepared to move to the next level of training. I rode regularly, pushed myself to ride up steep hills, and increased my mileage by increments.
I recently completed my first organized solo ride. To an experienced rider, this may not seem too impressive. But for me, I felt I had conquered the world. I learned determination, training, and preparation were essential in changing my heart.
The most important thing I learned from riding solo is it takes desire — a deep-rooted desire to push through and make it happen. Ironically, if my heart hadn’t been in it, it never would have worked.
Changing our Heart
Understandably, my heart condition has led to a bit of a fascination with the use of the word heart. The heart is often considered the brain behind our emotions, the desire behind our will. When we train or change our will, there is a reflected change in our attitude or countenance. The world would have us believe change is not necessary – the lie of settling for the mediocre rather than our best self.
Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity…It is not a global invasion but a private, personal battle, requiring hand-to-hand combat with our own internal foes.”–Neil A. Anderson
Much like conquering my heart condition. The defining moment did not come when I completed my first solo ride; it came with each choice I made in preparing for it. Our most difficult battles are often very personal ones within ourselves.
Change is Possible
Which voice do you believe inside your head? The one whispering change is impossible, or the one encouraging you to try? Listening to the first is like telling an alcoholic, drug addict or adulterer there is no hope. Give up now and don’t waste your energy.
Just as my husband helped carry the load as I trained my physical heart, there is one who carries our burdens and makes all change possible. The Atonement of Jesus Christ offers specialized training for our hearts. When we obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel, we are making choices that invite a spiritual change of heart.
Praying, repenting, following the Savior, and receiving His grace leads us to better understand why we are here and who we are to become.Neil L. Anderson
It is our small and simple choices that heal us from the disease of our transgressions. Our new heart brings us closer to our Heavenly Father. He helps us see our true potential and worth.
It has been hard to train my heart to respond the way I would like, but when my will is aligned with His, my heart is healthy, strong, and happy.
I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way. Eventually realizing that my way was oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of Jeus Christ. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.” -Neil F. Marriot