Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Whether You Know It Or Not, You Have Two Hearts

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It’s Always The Heart (book review)

 
I agreed to review this book for several reasons not the least of which were that my wife had recently suffered a heart attack; I may be a likely candidate for one; the author, besides having a heritage similar to mine (Greek) had a solid reputation in his field; and I always wondered if there was any connection between our physical hearts that beat away on average over 36 million times a year and our spiritual hearts that are referenced over 700 times in the Bible.

Dr. Arthur E. Constantine, MD, a practicing cardiologist at the Heart Group/St. Thomas Heart at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, in his book, It’s Always The Heart, published by Westbow Press, 2014, describes that connection well with examples based on his personal experience with thousands of patients.  He gives us life-changing spiritual and physical insights into the most important organ in our bodies by sharing accounts of circumstances that can easily represent almost all of us and/or those we love.

Constantine relates the story of Mr. Important who thinks that without him the world would not rotate on its axis and how that lifestyle or attitude impacts both our physical condition and our relationship with God. Through the ever-exercising Mrs. Tallent’s story, the author relates how fear and doubt are used by the Devil to challenge our very faith during times of surprise heart attacks. Through the story of underweight and undernourished chain-smoking Jacob, Dr. C. tells us how addictions impact us physically and spiritually, robbing us of our potential in both arenas. Through the experience of Joanne, who tried everything to be happy, Constantine shows us how the elusion of real joy and meaning in one’s life can cause trouble in both the spiritual and physical realm.

Jim Oliver had to change his spiritual heart with respect to a balanced life and only then could he help his physical heart to function well. And the life of Leroy Harris, the 347 pound truck driver who only ate at truck stops and drove all night except for six hours when his wife spelled him off, seven days a week chasing more income all the time, is a warning to all of us who take better care of our vehicles than our bodies. The author also has a special chapter dedicated to pastors who just don’t get it when it comes to their own health – both physical and spiritual. Through Jean he warns about being in denial about our lifestyle and its impact on our ‘two’ hearts. A second Jim shows us how to live with the fear of dying and the author shows us how to get out of that trap. And finally, through Mrs. Whitt (or Nana as she was so lovingly known to her family), Constantine talks about dying and how to deal with it.

No matter the circumstance, Constantine shows what many of his patients have discovered – somehow, it’s always about the heart.  Being in my senior years, I found myself thinking of so many loved ones I had lost who well could have been one or more of the people Constantine writes about.  What was worse, I found that I could well be one or more of them myself.  And that has its way of shaking you a bit, causing you to sit up and take notice to what the good Doctor is suggesting, not forcing on you. And hopefully taking action right away.

In fact, he goes one step further and makes some strong recommendations about diets (no, not off-the-shelf ones; he really dislikes those) and exercise (no, not the Jane Fonda dvd’s type) – just solid suggestions on how you can start to bring your physical heart into sync with the spiritual heart that God wants you to have.  But make no mistake about, Constantine pulls no punches – if your spiritual heart and life and relationship with God is not in order, do not expect your physical heart to stay fit for long. Kudos to a professional person who takes his faith to the office and by so doing has helped thousands.  Thank God our politicians haven’t found a way to stop people like him.

I strongly recommend the book for all who have been there in the cardiologist’s office or worse still under his or her watchful eye during an operation on their heart.  Also highly recommended for all counselors, especially in Christian counseling ministry.  It would be a bonus for pastors, too.

As for me, I have to run off and do my speedwalking, drink some more water, and strengthen my core muscles.

    -- Ken B. Godevenos, http://www.accordconsulting.com, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 15/07/08  

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