Looking at the past several posts on this will make it clear that I really haven't gotten any "traction" on this question.
Yesterday I digressed to cover the point that we can't depend on significant events to create change -- we seek "change" no matter what circumstances we are in.
So part of the reason I may appear confused and disoriented is that I was thinking "a close encounter" should produce change -- but to a large extent I seem to be much the same person that I was before the surgery.
Of course there are (at least) 3 aspects of "who I am" -- there's the physical body, there's my emotional/mental and there's my spiritual nature. I am a firm believer that for Christians a healthy spiritual view is holistic -- in other words you can't separate "living in this world" from your spiritual health. But teasing this apart to get a complete understanding of what it means is sometimes not an easy task.
Having said that I will make the following observations
1. My physical health is much better overall than it was before the surgery -- even though I wasn't aware (for long) that I had a serious problem.
The reality of my illness hasn't done much towards causing changes in my exercise and diet that would be considered a more healthy life style. I rationalize that by thinking that I really wasn't doing too badly before -- it wasn't "poor lifestyle" that resulted in my heart problems -- although a more active exercise program might well have pointed out the problem before it got the state it was. (On the other hand if I were a very active "exercise fanatic" I might have experienced a sudden cardiac arrest without warning) -- I don't know -- only God knows.
So I still work at maintaining a healthy diet and improving in my exercise but as before I find it difficult to develop the disciplines required to do that. My wife is my conscience in this area and in general my diet is "healthier" than before and I've managed (so far) to level out at 10 pounds lighter than I was before surgery.
2. In the area of emotional/mental and attitudes I don't believe there has been any dramatic change either.
I do think (without any professional assessment to back it up) that I am tending more towards being depressed. I have less desire to accomplish things -- or perhaps the better way of saying it is to say that I am even worse than I used to be at procrastinating and I'm less obsessed about focusing on projects (such as writing this blog). This is a "double-edged" change if it is a correct assessment -- because I am (in general) doing better at staying on top of day-to-day things which I used to let go in order to focus on things I wanted to do -- (I've written about this before). But I am also more easily distracted from staying focussed and getting things done so they tend to pile up even more than they used to.
3. It is hard for me to assess whether there is any spiritual change. I am more convicted than ever of the reality of God's presence in my life -- but whether than conviction is being demonstrated in my day-to-day thinking and action (points 1 & 2 above) and in particular in my relationships with others is unclear to me.
It is in this area -- how my faith in Jesus translates into changed thinking and actions in my relationships that I am really asking when I ask "has this changed me?"
The qualities I would want to examine are described in 2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to] his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
and in Colossians 3:1-17
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I keep on thinking.