Guest post by Rita Schulte
The losses of life take a toll on our hearts, and because the story of loss isn’t always an easy one to tell, we don’t. We bottle things up, put them neatly on the shelf, and there they sit—sometimes for decades. The problem is that loss has a cumulative stress effect on our hearts, which is why Scripture instructs us to “guard them with all diligence.”
Guarding our hearts requires deliberate intentional effort. By checking the pulse our hearts as the issues of life unfold, we can process our losses so they don’t stack up, leaving us feeling depressed or causing us to lose our passion for life.
The art of noticing allows us to recognize that we are in a battle for our very lives, and if we are going to survive the assault we must make the difficult choice to slow down and pay attention to what’s going on deep inside.
What You Don’t Notice CAN Hurt You
In the Disney movie, The Lion King, we follow the young lion cub Simba, son of King Mufasa and rightful heir to the throne in the Pride Lands, through a story of epic adventure. The assault on Simba’s heart begins early, when he’s a young cub. His Uncle Scar has killed Simba’s father, making it look like an accident for which Simba is responsible. The young cub is devastated by what he believes he did, and Scars seizes the opportunity to tell Simba to run away and never return. This of course frees him to take the throne.
Simba’s heart is broken, and he lives for years carrying the guilt that he killed his own father even as he tries to live a carefree life with two new friends, Pumbaa and Timon.
Here’s what we notice from the story: Simba didn’t see what was happening. He didn’t realize he had an enemy, and that he was in a battle for his very life. His fear of facing what happened paralyzed his ability to choose wisely. When we’re unwilling to see, we’re then left to use whatever coping strategies we possess just to stay alive. The problem with that is we wall off part of our hearts, just as Simba did, because the pain is too great to face. Then we deaden the desire to hope again, settling instead for lives of mediocrity.
The enemy of his soul (Scar) brought epic disaster into Simba’s life because he knew that to mortally wound the heart is to cut off the wellspring of life. When we stop paying attention to what’s happening to our hearts, we lose part of what makes us passionately alive and fully connected to God. As our story illustrates, the results can be disastrous.
Developing a New Attitude
Noticing is what effected change for Simba in The Lion King. The voice of his father echoing from the past at last reminded him of what he had long forgotten to pay attention to—his heart, his purpose, and his true identity. As he chose to be responsive to the truth, he was able to face his fears and return to the Pride Lands with a new perspective. Desire, once again stirring in his heart, could move him forward to live the life for which he was created.
Noticing can help us to cultivate a grateful heart for what remains. By learning to heighten our awareness of the simple pleasures in life we most assuredly overlook in times of sorrow, we can move forward with greater resolve to accomplish that which still remains.
Check back next week to see how I help my clients check the pulse on their hearts and begin to practice the art of noticing.
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today. She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency. You can follow her at http://www.siftedaswheat.com or Twitter at Heartlinepod.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)