I lie on my back, panting, staring at the stars in the purple-tinted sky.
I’m acutely aware of the air rushing through my lungs, filling every molecule in my body with oxygen, then releasing it forcefully. Breathe in, breathe out. Amazed, I wonder at the miracle of the human body, my body, the way it performs this intricate process on its own, without my intervention. I am filled.
It’s about 6:00 a.m. and I’m in the middle of a boot camp workout. My heart rate is elevated and I have no choice but to breathe. My lungs don’t care about my anxiety. They pump and do their job, efficiently and robustly. I am alive.
Strange to think that merely a year ago, I struggled to inhale. Anxiety-ridden and ruled by fear that had reached a voluminous head, I meted out my days, getting by on shallow breaths.
When I was 15, I had my first voice lesson.
Lesson one: breathing. I thought I already knew how to breathe. I was wrong.
All those years and voice lessons taught me to breathe deep.
But somewhere along the way, I forgot. I let go of what I had learned and let fear and anxiety take over. It happened for years until it reached its climax. That’s when it attacked the voice.
And just like that, one day I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t speak without conscious effort. And all the doctors and experts I consulted in my desperation said the same thing:
“You’re holding your breath,” one said. “You need to breathe.”
So I’ve been learning to breathe again.
Exercise helps. It increases endorphins, but it also kicks the body into autopilot. My lungs simply refuse to let me be boss. And I thank them for it. How glorious it feels — air.
When God created man in the garden, in the very beginning, he formed him from dust and then he breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. And man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
The word used for soul is the Hebrew “nephesh,” meaning that which breathes, the breathing substance or being.
He breathes and the soul comes into existence.
For so long I gripped the reins of my soul so tightly that I stopped breathing. I was holding on for dear life. I had known nothing but this fierce clenching. All my days culminated in this–a life so petrified by fear that oxygen couldn’t enter. I quenched the Spirit.
How can a fire burn with no oxygen?
The embers still glow there in my soul. I pray, plead for God to soften my grip. Unclench my fists. Break these brick walls that fear has built and flood me with His breath of life.
Lord, I cannot receive you with hands clenched. Melt me. Loosen my hands. Uncurl my fingers, one by one, that I may turn my #palms up and receive You.
Teach me to let go of fear. To unclench. To say yes to You.
To simply. Breathe.
What do you hold in your hand today? To what or to whom are you bound? Are you willing to give it to God right now? Give it up, let it go, throw it down.” — from Moses, by Ken Medema