“Your baby is going to be born with a birth defect.” The young mother heard these unsettling words when she was pregnant with her second baby. She played back the sequence of events in her mind. Her nearly three-year old daughter had double-pneumonia and when the mom went to the hospital to be by her side, she unwittingly got exposed to Rubella, also known as the German Measles. Rubella causes serious birth defects to babies in utero. Some are born deaf, others blind, some unable to speak.
So, the mother prayed, but did not take any other action. (Some were recommending that she terminate her pregnancy.) And when her baby was born, she arrived without any apparent complications. However, a few short months later, a small hole was detected between the lower two ventricles of the baby’s heart. As the child grew, the doctors monitored the dime-shaped hole and kept a close watch on the girl’s health. Then, at the age of nine, they performed open-heart surgery to patch up the hole. The surgery was successful and the girl was expected to live a long, normal, healthy life.
And I really have! As you may have guessed, I’m the one who was born with the hole in my heart. I’m the one with a big “T” shaped scar on my chest as a reminder of how the doctors saved my life.
I am BEYOND thankful that the hole in my heart was fixed, but I had another hole that the doctors couldn’t do anything about. My parents’ marriage was uneven. Even during the best of times, my parents paid my sisters and I little mind. We were left a good deal to manage life on our own. When my parents divorced and my father moved out, my world felt shakier than ever. I was insecure, and often felt lost and hungry for affection. We had a nanny who was kind and constant, but there was an emotional void in my heart that one person couldn’t fill.
In high school, I went to a Young Life club where they spoke of a God who created me and loved me more than I could imagine. And they said that He was so attentive, He even knew the number of hairs on my head. His love was so profound that He sent His Son to make His love known to me, personally. Sin was a barrier that disrupts our relationship with one another and with God. But Jesus took down that obstacle and made a way for us to rightly relate to one another by giving His life on the cross.
When I heard this truth, it resonated with me. I let it into my heart, and it healed me emotionally and spiritually. I believed in this good news, so I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and suddenly I was well in body and soul.
I tell this story right around Valentine’s Day because it’s the most beautiful love story I know. There is a love deeper than any we’ve experienced from our fellow human beings. There is a Being who knows you inside and out and loves you just the same. There is one who can fill the hole in your heart, but who leaves no scar. Indeed, He is the One who bore suffering and scars for our sake!
My open-heart surgery left me whole and “good to go,” physically. I have lived a good, long life. I am a wife, mother of four, a health coach and fitness instructor. But my encounter with God has made me whole on a whole new level. I have experienced a love that filled the hole in my heart to overflowing, that gives me meaning and purpose, joy and peace. Are you longing for something more than what those around you can give? Do you feel shaky and alone, with a hole in your heart? This love is for you. The One who created your heart is the very One who can mend it.
Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness and teaches classes in Washington, DC. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast. For more encouragement from Hilda, go to holistichilda.com.