I live in a constant struggle between living in the present and fearing the unknown of what the future holds. One minute I am so stoked to be out on a hike enjoying God’s beauty and the next minute I feel like I can’t breathe because I just found out I have to have my heart worked on AGAIN and it scares the sh*t out of me. I don’t think I’m the only one who deals with this issue. Life constantly throws us curve balls and it is how we respond to them that makes all the difference in the world.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at dinner with my dad on a little father daughter outing. He took me shopping at my favorite store, then we went to a great Italian restaurant. As we were eating way too much bread and enjoying just hanging out talking about everything from sports to boys to faith…. we started talking about the day I was born. He explained how it was so much different from when my older sister was born just 2 years before. I was taken away from them immediately and actually transferred to a nearby hospital. They didn’t get to hold me and had no idea what to do other than pray. Wow, I had never heard my dad talk about that day. He went on to tell me that when I was growing up every flu, cough, scrape or bruise that I got – him and my mom would freak out. I interrupted and said, I never even knew you guys made it a big deal. I always thought I was completely normal. What my dad said next with tears in his eyes made a profound impact on my life back then and I will now continue to share…

“The heavy burden we carry was not your burden to carry.”

That statement was so powerful to me. As I have grown up and realized just in the past few years how serious my heart condition is I feel so lucky that my parents allowed me to live a completely normal childhood despite their fears. I never once feared for my life as a child and am extremely grateful to my parents for carrying this burden on my behalf. I’m not a parent yet, but I know that can’t be easy. Mom, Dad ~ Thank you and I love you!!

Unfortunately, now that I am OLD, well in my 20s coming up on my 30s soon… I carry my own “heart burden.” Before my big surgery 3 years ago I rarely thought about my heart condition and mostly just thought about things any 25 year old would think about like where to go for happy hour, what I wanted to do when I grew up, and about the cute boy on the treadmill next to me at the gym. Now my life has forever changed. I live in constant fear of never getting to have a family of my own, not being able to do all the things in life I want to do, basically I live with the fear of suddenly dying. Trust me this is a very heavy burden to live with, but I’m also aware that others feel this same way and the uncertainty of the unknown can be paralyzing.

I try to live in the present as best as I can. This too can be quite a burden because it sometimes makes every day life hard. For example, I would rather be traveling to some deserted island than sitting at a computer screen doing boring work because hey, life is short right?! I want everything right  now and I find it difficult to plan things in advance rather than just doing them right then. I believe this is a challenge not only for me because of my extreme fears, but also my entire generation. Mix both of those together and you get disaster! However, I have learned a lot over the past few years carrying this burden and instead of always living in the present or feeding into my fears I simply try to live happy.

Again, what my parents did for me to protect my little heart was simply amazing. They truly taught me to live happy. To me this means living a purposeful life that brings myself and others an enormous amount of joy. I don’t know if I could live this way without these heavy burdens I live with, so I am thankful even for the bad stuff. The fear of the unknown is challenging, but for today and all my days I choose to live happy and let God handle the rest.

xoxo, Heidi