(originally: posted as Breathe 10/25/18- revised)
If you are around me when you are stressed or frustrated, you will hear me say, “breathe.” I used to think the important part was the inhale, since that is where you get the fresh air. The good air goes in. You can tell when someone is not really breathing.
One time I was encouraging someone to breathe, and another lady pointed out how she had read that exhaling was even more important. Exhale is where we send out the bad air. It is how we get the toxins out of our system. After doing a little google research, it turns out that most of us do not exhale deep enough, which is why we cannot inhale well.
I love words and pictures that help me see life and scripture better. I started thinking about this in terms of our lives. When someone is trying to connect with God and really change life, they will start reading scripture, going to church, and so forth. There is immediate change. Inhaling this good air is refreshing and important, but without exhaling or releasing the old stuff or the stuff that needs to go, there is not much room for the new fresh air.
The more we hold onto the old bitterness, the old habits, the old thoughts, and sometimes old relationships, the less room we have to allow God to fill us with fresh wind, and we wonder why we stagnate so fast. This is not just for new believers; this is for all of us as we run this race. When running, it is significant to find a good rhythm of breathing. Without it, the cramps start, the shortness of breath, and the fatigue all settle in.
As God is trying to fill us with something new, usually something has to be exhaled or released. When we let out a big exhale, many times we realize we have been holding our breath, holding onto something, and wondering why we are feeling fatigued and frustrated. We need to trust the Holy Spirit to teach us a natural rhythm of breathing, what to breathe in and what to exhale.
In Lamaze class (breathing classes for child delivery which I have used way more after my children were born than during delivery- true story), they teach you to focus on an object as you breathe. When you lose focus of your object, you tend to start breathing in non rhythmic, sometimes full panic mode. Focusing helps you to control the breathing, and to be more peaceful, so to speak. It makes the process a bit easier.
I think about that in life. How when I am focused on all the sparkly things, or not so sparkly, what she is doing, or he is not doing, or when is God going to make this happen… I lose my focus. I stop inhaling and exhaling in a natural way. They become awkward and I lose my rhythm. I end up fatiguing and frustrating myself and others in this process. When I gain perspective and focus on the goal. It puts everything else in proper perspective, breathing in God’s word and ways feels refreshing and strengthening and exhaling the stuff He is asking me to, brings clarity to my mind and soul.
The Amplified Bible says it this way, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 Christ needs to be my focus and the Holy Spirit needs to set the pace and rhythm of my breathing so I can run this race for the joy set before me without fatigue and weariness, breathing in all that God has for me, but exhaling all that prevents space for what God has.
Breathe in, Breathe out. Breathe out as deeply as possibly… it is scary at first and seems like you might not be able to catch your breath, but you will find it leaves room for more fresh, good air that you did not know was possible.