God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey

Building Your Heart Muscle in a Crisis


A well-toned, muscular body is an accomplishment. We want bodies that are powerful, but they don’t miraculously appear. Many of us dread the workouts to get the strong body, don’t we? Lifting weights on our arms, legs and abs produces tension.

It’s fascinating the way that the muscle building process includes:

  • Tearing down
  • Breaking 
  • Repairing 

Our heart is a super-sophisticated muscle that consists of tissue pumping blood through our bodies. How do we grow a strong, resilient heart? We can walk, run, cycle and do all types of strengthening exercises.

What about the building of our spiritual hearts?

As I experience the Covid-19 crisis, I can’t help but think about the only other time in my life when I experienced an even greater level of anxiety, uncertainty and some isolation.

Seven years ago this month, my daughter Leah was in the early stages of a horrific battle with cancer.

This month seven years ago, she just had her second emergency surgery.

My heart muscle pulled . . .

By summer, she went through vigorous chemo treatments.

My heart muscle twisted . . .

Mid-summer, she had targeted radiation.

My heart muscle stretched . . .

In the fall, the cancer almost disappeared.

My heart muscle rested . . .

Then a few months later, after 14 months in total, the cancer overwhelmed Leah’s body and she died.

My heart muscle completely ripped . . .

The ache and pain were indescribable.

This tragic loss impacted me profoundly. My heart formed a new shape – the crisis sculpted my heart muscle.

The Covid-19 crisis places incredible weight on each of our hearts. It’s pulling and tearing our hearts just as lifting heavy free weights puts pressure on our arms.

When we plan our physical workouts, we select the amount of pounds that we will lift – or maybe our coach does.

In a crisis situation, we don’t choose the weight placed on our shoulders. It’s placed there unexpectedly.  We haven’t worked up to the physical ability to handle it. How do we withstand it?

Throughout history, people have been tested, and refined, by the tension of sudden crises. I think of my father living through the Great Depression and serving the US Army Air Force in World War II. If he were alive today, I can hear him say about Covid-19, “Ah, we got this.” Perseverance and unrelenting commitment are two reasons his generation is called America’s Greatest Generation.

Our human wills are designed to conquer challenges and thrive. Many of us have been through deep emergencies – either personal or community-wide. We bring our life experience to this situation. For others, this Covid-19 outbreak may be one of your first, large-scale challenges.

Please remember: God created our bodies to be pliable; He gave us resilient spirits.

To date, my worst trial gave me:

  • Hope: my faith rested in God’s ultimate goodness and love
  • Community: friends and family held me up, prayed and provided resources for my family
  • Purpose: when I thought I couldn’t go on, my prayer was that my daughter saw Jesus in me

Remembering Leah’s illness, I can’t believe that I survived it. I’m not the same person; I’m different. Hopefully, better and tougher.

My hope for all of us is that when our “crisis muscle fibers” break, they:

  • Fuse together
  • Heal 
  • Grow to be vigorous and unyielding

Let’s use this time of collective suffering to grow in compassion, patience, kindness, endurance, understanding, faith and love.

Please share in the comments the ways that your/our current situation is either 1)stretching and strengthening you, or 2) how your past learning (trial) is helping you through this experience.

If this message is meaningful, please sign up to receive email alerts when I share a new blog post.

Follow me on Instagram @heartsformarie


Blog_Crisis Muscle

Photo courtesy of Pixaby

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-4

“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7


Author: Marie E Guthrie

What can I say about myself? My heart beats fast for my family, friends and calling. Professionally, I have a passion for helping people and organizations tell their stories in a compelling way and I have been doing this fun work my whole career. Never once bored in the marketing and communications profession. Presently, I am providing consulting services to corporate and nonprofit organizations. For seven years, I was the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Awana. I am dedicated to learning how to better love my family members and friends. I am married to a very special man, Mark. I have two children. Grant in his college years - a treasure. My beautiful daughter Leah is now in heaven. Her 14 month battle with cancer has taken me down a road that I never thought I'd go, but I would do it all again. This blog is dedicated to my brave and faithful daughter. At a young age, I was drawn to the sacrificial love I learned about as I was taught about Christ. My heart since age eight was transformed from total selfishness to a heart that desired to love God and others. This love has driven who I am - far from perfect, but dedicated to the One who loves me more than any human ever could. I have questions for God about the story of my life; I wrestle with Him about losing Leah, but He and I go deep. Still feel His arms around me. We are taking it day by day.

5 thoughts on “Building Your Heart Muscle in a Crisis

  1. Solid, hope giving exhortation and encouragement, Marie. Thank you, friend.

  2. Firstly, thank you for that remarkable post. It has got me thinking quite a bit – and that’s what great and honest writing does. Yes – we absolutly do ignore our heart’s spiritual muscles, until of course we are tested in ways we never thought possible. Such as the loss of a child, and/or a world health crisis such as Covid-19. These horrible episodes stretch our spiritual heart muscles to places we don’t want to go. But we ultimately must accept life challenges in order to go on – right? So, to answer your question, I’d have to say that tragedy has taught me ACCEPTANCE, PATIENCE and the importance of being GRATEFUL, present and mindful: to ACCEPT the very good with the horribly bad and understand that the bad is also part of life – unfortunately and sadly; To have PATIENCE with yourself and with others – allowing time to mourn fully, to unload explosive anger, resentment and fear; PATIENCE to heal the spiritul heart muscles and to ACCEPT that there might be more episodes of the same around the corner, forcing one to stay present, mindful, and in the moment; Trying to find the goodness and the greatness of the beauty around us even through horribly dark skies, and to be GRATEFUL for whatever joy one can find through the ashened clouds. There’s the challenge…to stay GRATEFUL even when one’s world is crubling apart. Perhaps gratitude, acceptance and patience will help strengthen the spiritual heart muscles??? Easier said than done…but we must give it a shot. Love you Marie!

    • Thank you so much for your words . . . this sentence particularly touches me ” PATIENCE to heal the spiritul heart muscles and to ACCEPT that there might be more episodes of the same around the corner, forcing one to stay present, mindful, and in the moment;” Very wise . . . present, mindful and in the moment . . .I’m going to think about these. Appreciate you my friend. Love you too!

  3. Trying to appreciate what this extended time at home is giving to me: more time together, less rushing around, the Earth is getting a break from our crazy lives. Learning to live in a new way – appreciate that we have the technology we do to stay connected, able to work, able to go to school. I’m typically a planner and one of the things that is hard for me is NOT being able to make a plan that I’m confident in (summer activities for the kids as an example). Learning to make a plan anyway and hold it loosely.
    Thanks for your comments Mike! I can relate to the words: Accept, Patience and Grateful 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s