Thinking with an Open Heart
Before I became an editor, I worked for a year as an administrative officer for one of the dearest managers that I have ever known. We worked like two peas in a pod. We met each morning to discuss the day’s priorities and I could even anticipate his administrative needs before he expressed them.
One morning, I commented to him that he seemed distracted. He reminded me of the appointment that he had a couple of days earlier at the Heart Institute and told me that he was going to need another open heart surgery to correct his congenital heart defect. If it was not successful, it would inevitably be lights out for him.
The famous heart surgeon had promised to telephone him within 24 hours yet he was still waiting for the call. My boss was consumed with worry, anxiety and negative thoughts. How could the surgeon not make the time to call him back about such an important matter? Didn’t the surgeon realize how stressful it was for my boss and his family? My boss was only 45 years old — much too young to die. How could the doctor be so uncaring and unreliable? The more my boss spoke, the more agitated he became.
“Maybe the doctor doesn’t think that it is urgent,” I suggested. My boss stared at me for what seemed an eternity. (Oops, I had not meant to sound flippant.) Indeed, I was sincere in trying to reassure him that perhaps there was hope and that the situation was not quite as desperate as it seemed that morning. Suddenly, he smiled as my intention finally sank in. He had been so (justifiably) consumed with worry that had not thought of that possibility!
Isn’t it often that way? We are so consumed with anger, worry, fear, insecurity, confusion, hurt, frustration, revenge or anxiety that we cannot think with an open heart. We cannot imagine that the other person had other priorities or good intentions because our mind is paralyzed by negative thoughts and negative mindsets about life in general or others in particular.
Just like a computer, our thoughts become infected with a terrible virus and they must be stewarded and reprogrammed. Like any malfunction situation that needs reprogramming, it is always a good idea to consult the owner’s manual — in this case, the Bible. In fact, it is vital that we archive or delete our old negative ways of thinking and select positive, godly, faith-filled thoughts about ourselves and others each day because our thoughts become words; our words lead to actions; and it is our continued actions that eventually define our character.
Although it is sometimes very hard, it is always best that we choose faith-filled positive thoughts and that we love our adversaries by speaking words of blessing, using gentle correction as appropriate. It is sometimes surprising how quickly and dramatically our situation can improve when our heart is open to God’s abundance and grace.
Of course, it is equally essential that we steward our attitude as well as our specific thoughts. It has been said that life is only 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it. The good news is that we can make a choice each day regarding the attitude that we will embrace for that particular day. We cannot change the past or that people act in certain ways toward us, but we can choose how we feel about something and how we respond to events and others in our life. Each new day brings God’s mercies.
Fast forward to eight months later when I was working elsewhere as an editor and my boss finally had his open heart surgery. I do not recall whether I had told him that I had been praying for him and keeping him in my thoughts for the last eight months (he went on medical leave a week after the appointment at the Heart Institute), but I will always remember the day that I visited him in the hospital after his surgery. He was seated on the side of the bed, reading a newspaper. He looked up and smiled broadly. My prayers had been answered and my heart was overjoyed.
Will your heart be open today to God’s grace, joy and abundance?
Barbara Hennessy, Chair