The Importance of Breathing
Have you ever been so busy that you weren’t even aware how exhausted you really were?
One of the main themes that God has been talking to me about for the past five years is the concept of rest, slowing down, and intentionally leaving whitespace in both my schedule and my life.
About five years ago I was running ragged, constantly going and doing and serving others and thinking about others and trying to find ways to be better and help others more effectively — both at my work and in my family life. I got to a place where I was so exhausted that when I finally had to take some time off work to have a shoulder surgery, I ended up hitting a low and a level of self-awareness that I had never had before. Being forced to just be still and helpless and dependent on others, unable to do all the stuff that I was so used to doing, was unprecedented for me. My kids had just started first and second grade – and so I now had the entire school day to pretty much just sit on my couch and think and read and pray and journal and find God again. And because of some of the psychological effects that the pain medication (from my surgery) was having on me, I became aware of my need for God on whole new level than I had ever known before.
During that time I discovered three super valuable principles for life that I had never really grasped before. This is what I discovered:
-1- It is indescribably important for me to just slow down and breathe. Literally.
It is critical that I give my schedule, my soul, and my mind an opportunity to get some space to really take in a deep breath and tune into God and what He is whispering to my heart. My sanity and my bent towards Anxiety necessitates that I allow myself time to be still, to get oxygen in my lungs, and to give myself an opportunity to reconnect with both God and my own self in an unhurried, restorative way.
I often have to literally stop and take big, deep breaths when I start to feel frantic, overwhelmed and like I’m not sure I can handle anything else in life. Breathe in… and out… and in… and out… It calms me and I find myself able to think a bit more clearly afterwards.
-2- Being relocated into “spacious places” is sometimes a form of rescue.
“The Lord brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me.” ~Psalm 18:19
You see, when I was so busy, schedule packed to the brim with work, activity, ministry, and family life, I had no time to stop and and just receive from God. I had no margin, no space to simply… exist in peace. Yet once I was forced to slow down and lay low from the surgery, I realized how very much my soul longed for room to just BE. And to gain perspective. And to be filled up again. My mind, my body and my heart all needed to be rescued from all my busyness and relocated into a “spacious place.” For me, that meant a place where I couldn’t keep myself so busy anymore. Once I was stripped of the physical capability to do so much of what I was used to filling my time with, I was finally able to recognize my need for God and His strength and grace and help in my life.
-3- Doing what feels counterintuitive in hard times – resting quietly with God – actually builds strength. And, ultimately, this hiding out with God offers a “salvation” of sorts.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.” ~Isaiah 30:15
When I first read the verse above, I was blown away. According to this verse, I would find salvation from… RESTING?!? And by moments of quietness and confident trust, I would find an unknown strength?!?
Yet: I have found it to be true. Over the last 5 years of living in this new way, I have seen over and over that giving myself an opportunity to just to be alone, to breathe, to think without interruption, to really look at the Bible and what God says about Himself and what He says about me… when I take those times to rest and be quiet… I feel more at peace. More grounded. More confident in how amazing and capable He really is.
As I abide in Him, I begin to really believe He is who He says He is. I begin to see Him move in ways I used to not notice. I begin to hear Him more clearly, and recognize His immense love and kindness towards me, in ways I never imagined. I trust Him. And all this, by default, brings me a certain quality of peace and a certain variety of strength that makes me feel more able to weather the storms of life.
Can you relate to any of this? If so, I encourage you write down these two verses— Isaiah 30:15 and Psalm 18:19— and write down the word BREATHE. And then: I invite you to give yourself some time this week to just breathe in the truth of whatever God wants to say to your heart through these verses.
I will do the same.
I am praying for you this week. Praying that you and I both will be receptive to His voice and His great love this week.
[This is Day 8 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
Have you ever walked through a particularly dark season but, in hindsight, you were able to see so clearly how God was with you in a very real and meaningful way? What lessons have you learned, or what did God teach you about Himself, through that experience?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.