According to the laws of probability, you should not be reading this article. You see, there’s a reason cardiologists call a severe blockage of the right coronary artery a “widow maker.” And when the blockage occurs before the age of thirty, the diagnosis is most often made during an autopsy. What’s more, even when the problem is treated with surgery, a significant majority of bypass patients either die or have another surgery within five years.
This week marks five years since that life-changing Wednesday afternoon when an otherwise-healthy, twenty-nine-year-old soccer referee who didn’t drink or smoke fell over dead for a few seconds. Friday was the five-year anniversary of my morning on the operating table. Five years ago today was the first time I ever missed a Sunday preaching assignment on account of illness.
The good news was that the doctors repaired the vascular damage in about six hours with bypass surgery. The physical recovery took the better part of a year. But truthfully, even five years later, I suspect I’ll probably never be “good as new.” You see, my heart didn’t just stop; it was broken. There was a real emotional, spiritual illness in me, one that revealed itself in destructive habits as dangerous as any drug. Inadequate to the challenge of dealing with my own problems, I instead buried myself in my work of helping others. When I was hurting, I sought out “comfort food” rather than the God of all comfort.
Habits like the ones that nearly killed me five years ago cannot be surgically removed, nor do they simply disappear by force of will. When I sat down to write this article, I thought it strange to do so since I am still such a work in progress, even after five years.
Five years later, I’m still not “well,” and probably never will be. But I am getting better. And if you’re reading this article, you have probably helped. Whether you’ve been my family, my friend, or just my audience, I’m better today because of you.