Recently, I woke up in bed to a racing heart after an intense dream.
So I put my hand over my heart, took deep breaths, and meditated on scripture to calm down.
Suddenly, a thought zoomed into my mind:
“Jesus, You are my Heart Keeper!”
The phrase came from my meditation upon Proverbs 4:23:
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”
Guarding your heart is a Spiritual and natural responsibility.
Who or what makes your heart beat faster?
Is your heart in safe hands?
If the wrong thing or person is keeping your heart, it will cause major life issues!
For many years, I thought food was keeping my heart.
That coping pattern led me to eat my way up to 240 pounds and a size 22.
However, the Lord led me to the core of my heart issue.
With that revelation, I lost over 85 pounds.
What was it?
Changing the “What” I ran to during emotional distress and anxiety to a “Who”!
One physical symptom is like an alarm signal to me: my racing heart.
It tells me that I need the Lord involved at that moment.
When I experience emotional distress, anxiety or have mental resistance, such as when I am battling procrastination or temptation, that old racing heart shows up.
Those moments are when I’m most vulnerable to practicing avoidance behaviors, such as emotional eating or procrastination.
I believe I learned from childhood that eating was a way to get myself out of pain from a racing heart.
However, avoidance behaviors can destroy your life over time, especially if they degenerate into an addiction.
So I needed a better way to keep my heart, to calm down.
Think about your recent experiences with anxiety or emotional eating.
- Does your heart race too?
- Do you feel physically tense?
If you aren’t sure, I recommend you start a “heart journal.”
In a small notebook or online journal, start paying attention to your physical heart for the next 4 days.
Become your own heart monitor.
If you notice your heart start to race during the day, then document:
- What is happening (or even if your heart is racing for no apparent reason)
- What you are thinking
- What you did in response
When I kept my journal, I was surprised to discover 6 – 17 incidents each day in which my heart raced for different reasons!
I had no idea that my body was so stress reactive.
However after seeing the proof in black and white from my heart journal, I had even more compassion for myself and the struggles we face in the flesh.
It made me determined to re-train my body to operate in Godly peace.
The Bible gives us at least 2 prescriptions for guarding your heart:
The first is Philippians 4:6-7:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
And the second is Proverbs 12:25:
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.
Here are 3 steps to put these prescriptions into practice every day:
- Constant communication with your Heavenly Father in your heart. Your Heavenly Father loves you to life and is the source of your peace.
When your heart is racing, you need to start seeking Him!
See that racing heart as your alarm signal.
The Lord instituted prayer to build your relationship with Him. Isn’t it amazing that you have the honor of communicating with the One who created the Universe and everything in the Earth?
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the sin rift between God and mankind was repaired.
According to Romans 6:14, God’s grace gives you power over sin.
You can speak to the Lord in your heart, which is the equivalent of the Holy of Holies in the ancient temple. The Holy of Holies was the inner sanctuary in which the priests entered into God’s presence.
Tell the Lord everything that is within your heart. Ask Him for what you need in that moment.
Listen for His voice as He speaks to you.
I often hear the Lord speak to me during the most mundane tasks of life, such as during a shower, mowing the grass, or cleaning up the house. Those are the most precious times for me.
It is comforting to know that in the midst of any distress or anxiety I feel, I am not alone.
This part of Isaiah 30:15 assures me:
In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
In quietness and confidence in the Lord, you will receive strength too.
If you do not slow down to receive strength, the enemy will always have you running out of fear.
2. Maintain a thankful heart. Even in the midst of the most distressing, anxious situations, you always have reasons for thanksgiving. Why?
Because even when you feel discouraged and don’t know what to do, you can be thankful that you know the One who does!
The Lord is the source of all power, strength, and wisdom.
It is easy to forget these truths when your heart is racing and you are physically tense.
It is natural to want to run to old, avoidance behaviors. After all, they promise to get you out of pain as quickly as possible and they are familiar, like putting on an old, ratty bathrobe.
However, you need to slow down, be still and know that He is God.
Take a deep breath. Put on your royal robes through your identity in Christ.
You are a new creation.
Be thankful that old things have passed away and Jesus makes all things new!
3. Speak truth to your heart. When your heart is racing from anxiety or emotional distress, that is prime time for the enemy to whisper lies to you.
This quote by Dr. Neil Anderson reveals this startling truth: “The power of satan is in the lie. If you remove the lie, you remove the power.”
Hebrews 2:14-15 also shows us how the enemy keeps people in bondage through fear of death, but how Jesus destroyed that power:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Ask the Lord to reveal any lies that you are believing that keep you in bondage.
Be diligent to deliver truth to yourself as your protection against the enemy.
Here are some good words to speak to yourself right now from the book of Psalm, which is the ultimate book of comfort in the Bible:
- Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”
- Psalm 31:24 – “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.”
- Psalm 40:8 – “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
- Psalm 57:7 – “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”
- Psalm 61:2 – “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
- Psalm 77:6 – “I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search.”
- Psalm 86:11 – “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”
By the way, Psalm 86:11 discusses the “fear of the Lord.” This fear is not talking about quaking, shaking, and being afraid as we think of it; rather, it is a sense of awe, reverence, honor and respect for the Lord – enough to do what He says!
Let’s recap: Remember that every issue in our lives originate from the heart, according to Proverbs 4:23:
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”
So guarding your heart is the most important thing you can do every day.
Putting your heart in the Lord’s hands during emotional distress and anxiety is the wisest thing you can do!
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Are you struggling with the challenges of emotional eating? Many people with eating issues know what to do but have a hard time doing it. That is where you need a community that supports each other!