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Growing Your Heart During COVID-19

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” Proverbs 17:22.

As the recent Covid-19 outbreak has hit everyone hard, it has ravaged the sports television market. My long career in the industry has been part a love of television and parts my love of sports. I was disappointed that one of my favorite sporting events of the year, The Kentucky Derby, has fallen victim to the pandemic and will have to be rescheduled. While I am a fan of most sports and a huge fan of football and hockey, horse racing has always been something I enjoy due in large part to one particular horse, Secretariat

Secretariat burst onto the national consciousness in 1973 and not only captivated racing fans but grabbed headlines human athletes and celebrities were envious of. It had been 25 years since a horse had won the Triple Crown and many had begun to believe it could no longer be done. Big Red, as the horse was nicknamed, not only won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, he set speed and victory margin records that stand today. Secretariat had such a tremendous career that the horse receive a very rare honor when he died by being buried with his body intact.  It was a part of that magnificent body that inspired me to include a chapter about Big Red in my book “Go the Third Mile: lessons in extraordinary friendship”. When the famed racehorse died it was discovered that Secretariat’s heart weighed 22 pounds and was about 2 ½ times larger than a normal horse’s heart. That extra size while still being correctly formed allowed Big Red to move more blood and oxygen and gave him tremendous stamina his competition did not have. While he also had several other physical qualities that helped him run so well, that incredible heart was the power plant that drove it all.

Our human hearts are muscles and respond to physical training, a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition giving us increased health and stamina. While I hope anyone who reads this takes good care of their physical heart, I really want you to think about your emotional heart. Just like that muscle that is beating in your chest, our emotional heart also responds to training, lifestyle, proper nutrition and can grow healthier depending on what we put into it. Proverbs 17:22 says; A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. We humans have the unique ability to choose what emotions we dwell on. We can select hope, joy, peace and faith allowing our emotional hearts to grow stronger and more loving or we can allow despair, pain, anguish and fear to take over and weaken our emotional immune system.  Paul’s counsel in Philippians 4:8 is a great recipe for keeping your emotional heart strong and healthy; Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

My career in sports television has allowed me to work with some of the greatest athletes in the world.  I’ve also worked closely with some iconic athletes in the fitness industry and it’s fascinating to see what rigorous exercise and training can do for their performance and endurance. I’ve also spent time with divers and seen first-hand how cardiovascular training gives them enhanced capabilities. The same is true with our emotional hearts. The more we love, the more we give, the more we do for others the greater our capacity to do it increases. Unlike the oxygen in the tank of one of my diver friends, love is not a finite quantity. Love has an amazing ability to multiply if we let it. Our supply of love actual gets larger and increasingly available as we use it more. I’m still amazed that when I perform an act of kindness how that sense of accomplishment and the gratitude I feel having done God’s will inspires me to look for additional chances to do it again. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Doing any of those things is almost impossible without allowing God to help you grow your heart. He’s the master trainer, the one who will push you, see when you’re dogging it in training, when you’re capable of more. He crafted you in your mother’s womb so he knows what that heart of yours’ is actually capable of. And just like Secretariat’s trainers did, he’s able to get the most out of you. I love verse 7 and its use of the word “always”. Always is an important word to this former Marine. Love ALWAYS does what’s good and it NEVER fails!!!

Christ said the world will know we are his disciples if we love one another. Let God grow your heart and increase its capacity to love and just like Secretariat the things you do with that big heart may shock the world.

An article by, Dean Marini
Author of, “Go the Third Mile: Lessons in Extraordinary Friendship.”

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