Heart Condition: An Alumni Feature

Ishianose Omofoma graduated from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2012 with a degree in Communication Arts. She is from Greeley, Colorado, but now makes her home in New York City. You can read more about her adventures in New York through her tumblr blog, whereishinow.

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A couple months ago I was diagnosed with a precarious heart condition called cardiac syndrome X. I use the word ‘precarious’ because it is what I like to refer to as a trial and error diagnosis. It is not certain, the medication is not promised to work, and I have side effects that do not coincide with this diagnosis. I recently moved to NYC to serve and work with Americorps rebuilding homes that were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. However, my brief time with Americorps came to an abrupt halt when my lovely heart decided to give me more problems than what I’m used to.

Photograph by Crystal Rose Smith
Photograph by Crystal Rose Smith

I suffer from angina, or chest pain, for those who do not know. When under duress or strenuous work this pain is magnified. I guess I did not really think building homes classified as ‘strenuous’ work. Or maybe I was just hopeful that after almost three years of heart issues with no real clue as to what it was, and the simple diagnosis somehow made it easier. However, the pain was so bad that I was not physically able to continue my job.

So, here I am on the other side of the country suffering from a condition that seems to flip my life around in whatever direction it sees fit. But what can you do? ‘Roll with the punches’, as they say. I find myself now tailoring life to what my heart tells me I am capable of doing, rather than what I want. Or at least what I know I am capable of doing, which, ironically enough, I still don’t know.

I came to NYC to serve people and experience some sort of fulfillment that’s been lacking in my life for quite some time. When I first traveled on summer ministry teams with Oklahoma Wesleyan, I never felt so close to God, to people, to the person God greater me to be. This feeling grew in me during my three summers traveling on ministry teams, and I came to New York in the pursuit of it.

Photograph by Alayna Flores
Photograph by Alayna Flores

I feel like I’m out here chasing a high sometimes. I wanted to be in a place that forced me to sacrifice myself for someone else again, a place that did not allow me an opportunity to be selfish. But, to say I came to NY solely for this purpose would be a lie. I came here to chase a couple dreams. To meet incredible people from every place you could imagine, and honestly, just to experience and to live.

Figuratively speaking, I never expected to be here. I have been in the ‘unknown’ my whole life. Which to a lot of people is scary, but I have always found the unknown to be beautiful because even though I do not know, I serve a God that does. This is perfection to me, and always delivers to some sort of peace.

Now, you are probably wondering what I did in ‘big’ New York, after I quit my job with Americorps. Well, I applied for and received a job at a booming software company in the city in a mere two weeks. Aside from the graces of simply having a job, I get a nice view of the World Trade Center from my office, and I’m in the heart of Manhattan. Not to mention it has given me the opportunity to connect with incredible people. I don’t say these things to boast about myself in any way, but to boast all the more gladly what God has done in my life.

I have always found the unknown to be beautiful because even though I do not know, I serve a God that does.

At some point you think you will figure it out. That one day you’ll find your niche or you will go somewhere and feel like you have ‘arrived.’ But I don’t know if that is what God has in store for us. I am finding that I am a citizen to the places I go, a citizen to the people that I meet. It may sound cliche but it’s the cliche things in life that are the most true. So, I guess it makes sense that I have been graduated for over a year and I have not done too many ‘things’ that are noteworthy to a lot of people. But I do not live by conventions—my heart isn’t fit for it.

I almost want to apologize to my professors, but I think it would be more fitting to thank them. I am where I am today because each one of them furthered me in one way or another. Because several of these teachers believed and saw something God created in me that I could not always see. They inspired me. I am able to survive where I am now because I have a degree that potential employers see as noteworthy—and that noteworthiness will get me through this chapter into the next one. This is good.

A degree was something I always wanted but not something I felt I needed. Please do not get me wrong, education is fundamental. I take pride in my academic growth that I received at OKWU. But, I am a believer of dreams and a believer of chasing dreams. I have been ruled by this God-given heart of mine, and it has always sought to be inspired. This heart has pointed me in directions of places that have changed my life and have grown me in the good and in the bad. No, I do not follow my heart. I am a follower of the God, who gave me this heart. And I do not think God makes mistakes.

Maybe you find that the pain was good because God used it to point you to something better—His best, and the journey toward it.

Just like this heart condition, life is precarious. We are not guaranteed a certain formula or ‘prescription’ is going to work. We are not promised that we will be able to build that house from the bottom up without issue. But when the pain becomes devastating, it has a way of pointing us in a direction we did not necessarily have in mind. Then maybe you find that the pain was good because God used it to point you to something better—His best, and the journey toward it. Life is a lot of hit and miss; it is a lot of trial and error; it is so much in the unknown, and unbearably so, at times. But, I want to continue to rejoice in that, because we serve a God who does know, and the God who knows wants to give us his best. I find great hope in that.

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