“It’s against my religion!”

My work with first responders places me in very varied environments, from late-night residential fires to police vehicle stops. I enjoy the dynamics of these challenging events using my chaplain skills and twenty years of pastoral ministry experience in caring for both the community and responding crews.

A few weeks ago I was on a ride-along with one of my EMS ambulances. Medics and paramedics never know what will drop on their plates in a given shift. I had the privilege of spending a few hours with a very experienced two-person crew. A call came in for an 85-year-old patient with possible chest pain. We went full-boar, lights and sirens, down secondary and primary roads, time was of the essence.

Upon arriving at the residence, we found a middle-aged woman outside the home motioning us to the door. Inside was her mother-in-law. As the paramedic ran through the battery of questions common in these situations, one particular query received an intriguing answer.

Paramedic: “Have you had a heart attack in the past?”

Patient: “Ha! No! It’s against my religion!”

I laughed out loud as a huge smile drew across my face. Being a person of faith and having participated in a religion as a pastor, I’d hear a lot of things being against a person’s religion; drinking alcohol, cursing, tattoos, dresses above the knee, even chewing gum, but I never heard “heart attack” on the list! Now, I don’t think the woman actually believed if she didn’t acknowledge heart attacks she wouldn’t get one. If we could “anti-religion” ourselves into good health, well, I suppose we’d put the medical industry out of business. But the phrase exposed a denial of negative thoughts that would serve anyone well. What an excellent mindset!

In this day and age of small and great stressors like world conflicts, our own hectic schedules, and the secondary stress and sadness of others we experience – especially as we help those having trouble helping themselves – keeping our minds fixed on what is positive is an excellent practice. So, don’t give room to thoughts that aren’t. It’s not about manifesting things absent into things present, or denying reality, it’s about controlling our thoughts.

Sometimes we just have to say, “It’s against my religion!”

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

– Romans 12:2


Rev. Peter Keady, CC, CCISM

Chaplain, Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley