A guest post by Janet Eriksson . . .
Friday night, I typed a medical transcription about heart health. I even looked at pictures of a heart to help me get the words right. If you don’t know the path I’ve been tiptoeing down, this might not seem like a big deal. Trust me, it is. A week ago, I could not have done any of that. This was a huge breakthrough beyond anything I could have expected. It came from the healing work God did in my own heart five days earlier.
That previous Sunday, I did prayer ministry with a friend. I told her I was tired of always fearing for my physical health. I was afraid to sleep at night – thus, stayed up till ridiculous hours, which ironically was stressing my health. It wasn’t that I was afraid to die in my sleep. More that I was afraid of waking up in the middle of the night with a heart attack.
It wasn’t just at night either. I would walk on eggshells during the day too, as if bracing for something bad and sudden to happen with my health. That’s no way to live. I have an adventurous spirit. Yet the older I get, the more I hold back, overly protective of my physical person. Acting like I’m twice my age. In fact, I’ve known people twice my age who are much more filled with life.
Where did this overreaction and fear come from? I was born into a family, some of whom seemed to have physically weak hearts. A curse of premature death came down one family line as well. Through prayer ministry over the years, I’ve repented on behalf of the generations. I’ve invited Jesus to lift those curses and bring redemption and release generational blessings. I knew the curse of premature death was broken when He healed me of cancer 12 years ago!
But I still had lingering trauma from my earliest experiences. Not only did my family seem to have weak hearts, but I was also born to older parents. (They had grandkids my age.) When I arrived on the scene, I was two generations behind. Folks were already getting older and dying. As early as I can remember, I was going to funeral homes. This may seem natural given the age gap and the underlying health conditions. But think how this looks to a little one. My little spirit looked at God and said, “What in the world? They’re dropping like flies!”
I became afraid for my physical person. I breathed all their experiences into my heart. As each person dropped suddenly, that image was seared on my brain. I never saw anyone have these attacks, but their final moments were described so vividly by the adults (forgetting a kid was in the room who shouldn’t be hearing all that), it was like a video started playing in my mind. A video no doubt even worse than reality. A video that eclipsed their stories of decades of life, love, laughter, so all I retained was a record of their death.
Those tapes didn’t bother me so much when I was a young adult. I was too eager for life and even went through a season where I thought I was indestructible. (No doubt an extreme, fear-driven overreaction to those early experiences.) But about five years ago, as I entered my 50s, I developed high blood pressure. And my mind started projecting all those early video clips in laser-flashing 3D surround sound.
Not only did this affect my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. It affected my work as well. I type transcriptions online, and good quality audio is hard to come by. I can’t tell you the number of times I have pre-screened an audio that was excellent quality, but I dropped it like a hot potato when I realized it was an interview with a cardiologist. Over and over again, I dropped the clearest audios because they dealt with the physical heart. I literally feared that listening to them would make my heart give out. Wow. Nor could I ever look at a picture of a human heart. Too much.
In my prayer ministry time, the Lord showed me how I had literally taken on the trauma of all those family members who had died. Many of them died so fast they probably felt no trauma at all. For them, it was probably more like, “Praise Jesus, I’m out of here!” So, the trauma I picked up was second and third hand, based on the shock and vivid retelling of their death and the way it affected me as a little one.
All these years, I’ve been carrying all those people around in their death. My mind has replayed their death so many times that my physical body has braced for it. These are people who have been in heaven with the Lord for nearly 50 years already. In other words, they aren’t having any problems at all! Yet here I am lugging them around, killing myself in the process.
I also recognized that I’m getting to the age those family members were when I first arrived on the scene. I physically resemble them in appearance now, exactly the way I remember them. So, now I look like the very images I’ve long associated with death. When I look in the mirror, the lies are reinforced that it’s me in those mental videos of their demise. Ugh.
So, I repented for allowing those tapes to play in my mind. I broke the ungodly soul ties which had me thinking that because I look like them, their physical diagnosis is my reality. What a lie from the enemy. My heart is not theirs, my blood vessels are not theirs. My physicality is what the Lord gave me uniquely. And I have been pursuing healing far too long to keep flipping the switch back to another person’s death that happened decades ago. I have too much life to live right here, right now.
On pieces of paper, I wrote the names of the folks whose deaths were most traumatizing to me, and I literally took those pieces of paper to the desk where I have a prayer shawl. I symbolically placed them under a wood block that says “Shalom.” Because this all affected me so physically, I felt like I had to make that physical gesture to let go of all that death I was carrying. I gave those folks to Jesus – not in death but in their eternal life. I took back my own health, and put my health firmly into God’s hands.
I forgave the adults who described those moments of death in my hearing, who took me as a little one to funeral homes with no help in navigating. I asked God to cleanse my mind of those words and mental images. I have a vivid imagination, so whatever the adults said, you can be sure it was magnified in my little mind.
The Lord also helped me see that I had judged Him for letting them all die. He reminded me that my feisty little self had arrived near the end of their lives, and I had missed the fact of all He had done in their lives and even their health to that point. It occurred to me that God had probably even extended my dad’s life (whose heart was very weak) long enough for me to get to the age of 15 before I lost him to a heart attack. My dad had experienced many heart attacks before that, but he kept on living a life that overflowed with joy and great humor. When I finally took my eyes off death, I could see how much God had blessed my father with life, and blessed me with all those years of my father. So, I had to repent for judging God and for thinking He was weak and incapable of preserving life.
Also, I had made an inner vow that if God couldn’t keep my family alive, I’d better plan to keep myself alive. Can we all just take a moment and shudder at that one? Needless to say, I repented of that really quickly, and with my prayer minister’s help I broke that vow off of me.
Then came one of the most amazing blessings in that prayer ministry session. God reminded me of how each of those family members was so vibrant and full of life till their very last moment on earth. In fact, that’s why their sudden death was so shocking. Despite weak hearts, they lived to their fullest. They were zestfully alive until they weren’t.
And here I am, guarding my physical person and walking on eggshells of fear. Which is no life at all. All because I’m bracing for sudden impact. Those folks who came before me didn’t brace. They lived. And now they continue to live in a much more dazzling place with Jesus in heaven. I’ve been so fearful of that one moment of impact that I’ve taken my focus off all the amazing life that precedes it. Not to mention the incredible-beyond-understanding eternal life that follows it.
I need to live with all the vibrancy each of those folks in my family lived with. And they did – they were a lively bunch! That’s the way God intends me to live too. Lively. Fully alive. I can’t control when I die. But I sure can control the way I allow myself to live.
From the moment that prayer ministry session was over, I have had no problem falling asleep every night. My physical fear is subsiding. My weariness is lifting and I have felt some sense of adventure coming back into my heart. Also, I have been distinctly less fearful of exertion. I have noticed all this unfolding and been encouraged. But what amazed me the most was that transcription I did Friday night. I love how God often lets us see a very tangible sign of what has changed in our healing.
When I heard the first few lines of that transcription audio, I knew I would be listening the next three hours about the human heart. Normally I would have dropped it like a stick of dynamite and gone on to look for something else. This time, I had no impulse to do that. The quality was so clear, the pay rate was higher than usual, and I wasn’t about to drop that gift.
Nor did I feel like I needed to drop it. The speakers went on and on about the heart, and I just typed. I felt no fear. In fact, I settled into a lull that was so peaceful. It was one of the easiest jobs I typed all week. Then it came time to look up some terms, and these came with graphic pictures of the heart. No problem. No fear. Just peace.
Wow. Free at last. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Feel my heart beat. Feel His heart beat. What an incredible healing gift from Jesus. The beginning of a new heart life for me.
Janet Eriksson is an intercessor, writer, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of nine books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.